Writing for Business

21st October 2017 Megan Prendergast no responses Business development

This workshop was headed by Cheltenham Art Office’s Anna Poulton, who offers various different business improvement opportunities.

To start with, we were asked to express what we’d like to be seen as in terms of work, i.e. friendly, skilled, confident etc. She then explained how important it is that when writing, you should think about what message you’re putting across, and whether this reflects the type of person you’d like to be perceived as.

Anna talked about three things you should think about when writing:

Medium – what kind of writing is it?

Audience – who are you writing for?

Purpose – what do you want them to do as a result?

A Challenge: Look back at your old writing or ask someone else to look at it – is your message clear and are you being viewed in the way you’d like to be?

We were then asked: What puts you off when you read something?

We discussed a few ideas and looked at some examples, and discussed why we didn’t feel they were good forms of writing. This was really good to make us realise how important it is to think about every aspect of the piece of writing you’re doing, as things like background/text colour, unstructured text, or long complex sentences, could really have a negative effect on the reader.

We then talked about some common grammar mistakes that a lot of people make without even realising. first we touched on apostrophe’s, which are only used for two purposes:

  • Possession

For possession, the apostrophe goes directly after the owner, for example:

If there’s one boy playing with a ball, the boy is the owner therefore it’s the boy’s ball.

If lots of boys are playing with a ball, the owners are the boys, therefore it’s the boys’ ball.

  • Abbreviation

When abbreviating, the apostrophe goes in place of the missing letter, for example:

have not = haven’t

We also touched briefly on commas, with Anna explaining that commas are only used for a pause in the sentence, when the content after the comment doesn’t make sense as a sentence on it’s own (like this sentence here!)

Anna finished the session by going over a process that can help you improve your writing:

  • Think
  • Plan
  • Write
  • Wait
  • Edit
  • Wait
  • Proofread
  • Publish

Waiting allows you to take a break from looking at your writing, and often you’ll find that it’s easier to spot mistakes when doing this.

So what is good business writing?

A good piece of writing should be:

  • Clear
  • Easy to read
  • Accurate (both your content and your spelling, grammar and punctuation)
  • Appropriate for your audience
  • Engaging



Social Media Strategy

21st October 2017 Megan Prendergast no responses Business development, Software tools

This workshop was all about social media for business and how it can generate more leads for you.

To start, we touched on why social media is good for business, the reasons being:

  • Allows you to have regular, two way engagement with your audience
  • 79% of internet users are using Facebook alone (over 1.8 billion), meaning there’s a huge market already made for you
  • Boosts traffic and search engine ranking – more channels to direct people to your website + search engines like social media – the more options you have, the easier it is for people to find you
  • It’s cheap but can give you a big reward

After this, we were asked to guess which of the three posts sounded the best, before being taught what you need for a good social media post – this was to test the knowledge of the group, who came up with some interesting reasons as to why they liked particular ones.

We then looked into these posts in more depth, understand what makes a good social media post and why it’s good to include certain things. These are:

  • Identify your customers’ pains and offer a solution
  • Make it eye catching but also relevant
  • Questions encourage engagement and allow the customer to relate to what you’re saying
  • Include a call to action so your customers know what you expect from them

It’s not to say that everyone must follow this structure every time, but they’re good rules to think about if you’re not sure where to start. We then looked into what a call to action is, and had to guess which statements were calls to action and which weren’t. A call to action gives detail of what you’d like your customer to do, after seeing your post. For example, ‘visit our website’ or ‘click here to subscribe’, as it’s a clear route for the customer to take.

After this we talked about visuals within social media. Visuals are such an important thing nowadays as they stand out much more than simple text posts, and with such a saturated market, it’s essential to get yourself noticed.

Videos get the best response, and are also favoured most by social platforms, however there’s no point using videos just for the sake of it, and photos are usually the better option. On great thing about videos however is that you can snip larger files to make yourself a whole host of smaller clips that you can use for different advertising purposes.

Photos are a great way to show off your business; ‘sneak peek’ or ‘work in progress’ photos can give customers a greater insight into you and your business, and allow for a more personal, trusting relationships. Polished product photos are great for a website, but show the process of making that product on your social media, to generate interest.

A few things to remember when taking photos:

  • Take more than you need – it’s always better to have a choice!
  • If you’re wanting to use filters on your pictures, try and keep them the same; this can tie into your branding if you want it to, e.g. if you’re branding uses very soft colours, you could use filters to make all your photos look softer.
  • Always ask for permission when taking photos of people, and make sure they’re happy for it to go online.
  • If you’re using an external photographer, be kind and give them credit for their work.

After this, we moved onto writing a social media marketing plan, and the basics that you should think about:

  • Decide what you want to use your social media for, so you’ve got a clear vision
  • Set a clear time frame – schedule posts and dedicate a time to work on them – don’t feel bad about spending time at work on Facebook, engage with your audience’s posts, groups and pages.
  • Decide what results you want to get so you can monitor your progress
  • Identify your customers pains and how you are able to solve each one
  • Know who your target market it, but also who it isn’t, you won’t appeal to everyone so don’t try. It’s a good idea to create personas so you can identify how they would like to be spoken to.
  • Decide how often you want to post, what tone of language you’d like to use, and what person you want to write in, and stick to it!
  • Read your post back as if you’re the customer and ask yourself, ‘would I buy from me?’

After this, the group was asked to write a post for a new bakery opening to see how much they’d learned so far. We took it in turn to read them out and them reviewed them as a group, to help everyone better understand what makes a good post and how to write one. The task worked well and everyone came up with some really good posts, as well as some really good feedback.

Finally, we talked about Buffer, an online tool that can help manage your social media. Buffer allows you to connect all your social media accounts together so you can just write one post, and send it too all platforms. It’s flexible in what you do and you can simply click on the platforms you want to share on, and turn off the ones you done.

Buffer also allows you to set up a posting schedule, so you can send out regular posts that can be written and queued ahead of time.

When sharing a link, Buffer will reduce it to just 24 characters, which is especially useful when posting to platforms like Twitter. To make sharing links even easier, you can install a browser extension that allows you to send the webpage, article, tweet or Facebook event, straight to your Buffer queue.

Buffer’s analytics allow you to easily compare your posts and see how many likes, comments, or clicks each post has, as well as allowing you to add high performing posts back into your queue with the re-buffer button.


Belbin’s Team Roles

21st October 2017 Megan Prendergast no responses Business development, Teamworking

This workshop was all about Belbin’s team roles and how each member of a team tends towards a different role within their group, based on personality traits and skills. Belbin was a management consultant who observed this theory in the late 70s. He tested a theory that those with the highest IQ will perform the best, but actually found that this wasn’t at all the case, and instead it was about diversity and how each individual can bring their own skills to benefit the team as a whole.

To start the workshop, we were asked, without any context, to write down the first thing we’d need to do to plan a party. There were a number of different answers given, and this showed how everyone thinks and works differently, introducing us to the topic.

After this, we were asked to complete a ‘Self Perception Inventory’. This gave a list of statements, for which we had to give more or less points to each one, based on how much they sounded like us. After this, the scores were added up and this then gave us the role that we most tended towards.

This was just one quick way to get an understanding of Belbin’s theory, however if you wanted to look into this in more depth with your team, it’s best to spend longer on this to get a more accurate profiling. It’s important to note that just because you’ve tended towards one role, doesn’t mean you should pigeonhole yourself into this, everyone can be successful in other roles too, and the more you grow and learn, the more this can change.

Belbin identified 9 different roles, that could be grouped into ‘thinking’, ‘people’ and task’ orientated. Each role has obvious strengths, as well as allowable weaknesses, something that will be inevitable so these shouldn’t be seen as a negative, but instead something that both the individual and the group can be aware of, so they can help this person through any difficulties this may cause.

The thinking orientated roles are:

  • Plant – the plant loves to be creative, has lots of ideas and thinks differently, coming up with ideas that may not have been explored before. The plant is good at problem solving and loves getting hands on. Their weakness is that they tend to not focus on deadlines or being on time, which can be an issue in time conscious projects.
  • Monitor/evaluator – The monitor/evaluator thinks strategically, they see lots of different solutions and can visualise the outcomes to see what will work best. They like to be logical and work things through thoroughly. Their weakness is that they can sometimes be quite negative, they’re realists so can sometimes shoot down any ideas that they don’t see as logical.
  • Specialist – The specialist likes to work hard to be really good at one particular subject. They like learning and will spend a lot of time becoming an expert in their chosen subject. They prefer to work alone, however this isn’t necessarily a negative thing within a team environment, instead it means they won’t need a lot of direction. Their weakness is that they can often neglect other subjects, and be too focused on one particular thing.

The people orientated roles are:

  • Resource investigator – The research investigator likes engaging with and talking to people. They love networking and meeting new people and are really enthusiastic about discovering new things. They go out and find what’s available that they can then bring back to their team. Their weakness is that they can often find their enthusiasm dwindling quite quickly, and instead of finishing things will want to move onto the next, more exciting thing.
  • Coordinator – The coordinator acts as an overseer of the group. They aren’t necessarily the leader, however often move up into leadership roles throughout their careers. They are able to identify other’s skills and so know who should be doing what, and are also confident in their own ability to delegate. Their weakness is that they can sometimes be seen to be doing all the delegated, but not actually doing any of the work themselves.
  • Team worker – The team worker helps to keep the team working together well. They can help to diffuse any tensions and can recognise when people need help. Their weakness can be that they tend to avoid conflict, they like everyone to be happy and so tend to avoid situations that can cause arguments.

The task orientated roles are:

  • Shaper – the shaper is very goal focused, they want to get the job done and will work hard to do this. The weakness in this is that they can be seen to sometimes disregard others and can be seen as a bit rude, if they focus more on their task rather than the rest of the group.
  • Completer/finisher – This role isn’t quite what is sounds – it doesn’t necessarily mean that this person always gets the job done, and in fact can oftentimes not finish at all. The completer/finisher is a bit of a perfectionist and will work on something or as long as it takes to get it right. Their weakness is that they can be a bit of a worrier, they need everything to be perfect so will be very conscious of their work.
  • Implementer – The implementer likes to do things in lists, they’re methodical and like to have everything written down so they know what they’ve done and what to do next. Their weakness is that they can be quite inflexible; if they’ve got a schedule and a list they’re working through, it can throw them off if someone comes in with a brand new idea to start working on.

These roles are not static, but they allow a team to find what the positive attributes of each team member are, and what they can bring to the group. It also allows them to identify the gaps in a team, and discover easily how to fill these.


Hola from Maitane, Creator of

12th October 2017 Pete George no responses Create on the Square, Interns

We love working with people from different backgrounds at Create on the Square and, in particular, have greatly benefited from our language student interns. This summer, we were really fortunate to have Maitane bring her marketing skills to help launch the new community website, amongst other things. 

Here’s a few words from her:

Hello everybody, I’m Maitane and I’m from Vitoria, Spain. I have been working as a business intern at Create on the Square the last two months, in order to learn some new skills and improve my English.

Some months ago, I decided that I needed to break with my routine and leave my home for a few months, so this is the reason why I arrived at this town; it was the best decision I could have made.

I arrived at Cheltenham in July. That month I was taking some English lessons and after that, in August, I started working at Create. Since the moment I arrived here everybody have been really welcoming and nice with me; during these two months they always have made me feel as I was part of the team. My work has been very varied and enjoyable: working in the newsletter, creating a new website (, helping at the Tea Bar, organizing events…

This months have been really amazing, I have met a lot of new people, my English has improved, at the Tea Bar I have felt as at home and I have learnt a lot of new things.

Thank you to every single people who I have met here, thank you for the unforgettable months I have spent here, it has been an amazing experience!




How Teams Work

This workshop explored the classic stages of team development, identified by sociologist Bruce Tuckman: Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, Adjourning. We discussed each stage, illustrated with a few example exercises, and investigated how this knowledge could be used to help us work better with others.

“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” Henry Ford

  1. 1. Forming

‘Forming’ is the initial stage of creating a team. This step helps to bring the group together by finding out about one another and breaking the ice. It’s such a crucial part as it begins to allow the team to see how each individual will progress and what strengths each person has.

To demonstrate this, we were asked to stand in a circle, and when the rope was passed to us, we had to say something about ourselves while the rest of the group guessed whether this was true or false. The idea of this was to encourage openness and honestly, and allow team members to feel more comfortable sharing information about themselves.

2. Storming

This step is where teams will have to learn how to handle working together in different situations. Stress and conflict can arise at any time, and a team must be able to work together to over come obstacles, or they’ll get stuck in this step and not be able to progress. It’s said that conflict can be a positive thing for a team, and can help everyone grow both individually and as a group.

For this, we were asked to walk across the room, with the goal of all stepping over the finish line at the exact same time. At first, we thought this was easy, but after a few attempts found it was a bit more complicated. It allowed us to define a leader for the task so we knew who was to be followed and were able to complete the task successfully.

3. Norming

‘Norming’ occurs when the individuals start to find their place in the group. The group is ‘normalised’ and everyone knows one another’s strengths and weaknesses, and can easily delegate individuals to certain tasks, so they can be carried out in the best way possible.

For this challenge, we were all asked to stand inside a rope circle. We then had to get out of the circle by going underneath, but were not allowed to use our hands or arms in the process. We tried a few different methods, but after working together on the previous tasks, we were able to quickly devise a plan that worked.

4. Performing

This is when a team is fully functional, can self organise and operate effectively. High performing teams can do great things; they can complete tasks to the highest standard with ease, and are able to quickly resolve any issues that may arise.

To demonstrate this, we were asked to rotate the rope circle as many times as possible in one minute. On the first attempt, we managed 12 spins. We then were asked to assess, come up with new ideas of how we could improve, then have another go. This time we scored 18. This task was really effective as it showed how just by getting different input from different team members, you can reach a greater outcome.

5. Adjourning

Originally, Tuckman created the first four stages, however this was later revised and a fifth step was added. ‘Adjourning’ happens when the team changes, for example a member leaving or a new member being brought in. This then isn’t the same team that’s changed, but instead is a new team, so often needs to go back to the beginning so any new members can have a fair chance to work through the stages of development. It’s important to accept these changes, and understand that going back to step one isn’t a bad thing, but instead will make the team even stronger.

Tuckman’s stages of development was not meant to be followed in a specific order, but instead teams are encouraged to move forwards and backwards and revisit steps to continuously improve their team dynamic as different situations occur. It’s all about finding what suits each person and helps each person to be happy in what they’re doing and be able to put their all into their work.


Collaborative Management with Trello

Wednesday Workshop at Create on the Square this week looked at Collaborative Management

Collaborative management styles (rather than a traditional ‘command-and-control’ approach) are at the heart of many hugely successful 21st Century businesses, like Google. The workshop looked at the benefits of working using this approach, no matter how big your business. The workshop also provided an overview of Trello, a popular management tool that is a great enabler for this kind of approach.

“You need to have confidence in your people, and enough self-confidence to let them identify a better way.” Eric Schmidt, How Google Works.
A more traditional, top down approach to management has seen decline, with more and more organisations opting for a more collaborative approach, that allows individuals to take control of their own tasks, and decide the best course of action. Working in this way can allow teams to be more creative, with more opportunities to share thoughts and ideas and allow team members to take a more equal, managerial role.

One great tool, that allows teams to work collaboratively on projects, while still being able to do their own thing, is Trello. Trello offers both a free and paid version, and is an interactive planning tool that allows the whole team to see one another’s progress in real time. Plans are set out in multiple lists, on which cards can be added for individual tasks, and then moved around as and when needed.
A good start would be to create lists titled ‘to do’, ‘doing’, and ‘done’. This then allows team members to easily track their own and each others progress and ensure everyone is on schedule.

When creating teams, the admin can decide whether either member is either ‘normal’, meaning they can simply see the board, but cannot edit, or ‘admin’, meaning they can add, move and edit boards.

Once you’ve created your board and your first card, there’s a number of features that can be added:

Add member – this allows you to assign yourself or a particular person to the card, everyone can then see who is in control of this task.
Add label – cards can be colour coded which is handy when needing to distinguish between cards. These can be useful to label people, different areas of work, different projects or order of priority.
Add checklist – add sub-tasks to each card in the form of a checklist so you can easily track your progress. If you decide a checklist item is more important, you can choose to convert this into it’s on card.
Add comments – this can be used to give any extra information on the card to save your full view looking too cluttered.
Due date – set a deadline for a task to ensure it’s completed on time. The card will flash red when the deadline is reached so you’ll never miss it.
Attachment – this feature is really handy if you want to include a lot of information, but can’t fit it all on one card. Attachments can be added from either the local computer or from Google docs so any important information needed for particular tasks can be found easily from one programme.
Subscribe – subscribing to a card means you’ll get a notification when a card is edited. This is handy for a manager to track the progress of their staff, without having to be constantly watching.
Trello can be used on both desktop and through a mobile app, making it accessible from everywhere and for everyone. The interface is basic meaning it’s simple to use and won’t take up a lot of time learning how to use it. It’s a great tool for collaborative projects or simply for just keeping a day-to-day to do list.


The Ultimate Business Course

At the beginning of August, I was offered an exciting opportunity to enrol on the Ultimate Business Course, organised by Betaris Training, and run by Angela De Souza of the Women’s Business Club. The course took an in-depth look at planning, marketing and running a business and offered some great techniques and methods to help improve business growth.

We were a small group, starting with 9 students, and so we really got a good chance to share our thoughts and ideas and were able to help one another out as problems arose, over the the 3 week course.

On the first day, we were given the ‘Ultimate Business Plan’; a structured document that we were to work through throughout the duration of the course, that gave the basics of everything you need to think about when writing a business plan. For the first week, we focused on branding and vision. These are of course some of the most important aspects of a business as they give a clear image and offer a certain message. However it was really useful to look at these aspects in more depth, thinking about why branding is so important and why it’s done in a certain way. Writing both a vision statement and a mission statement helped to keep the core values of our businesses in the back of our minds and make sure these come across in everything we do. It also allowed for us to look towards a larger end goal and have a clear message to convey to our audiences.

I really enjoyed this section of the course as I love being creative, and while all the branding of Cheltenham Coworking has long been designed, it allowed me to think more carefully about how important it is to carry the complete brand across all visual aspects of the business.

We spent some time studying SWOT and PEST analyses as well as competitor analyses which helped us to understand our place in the market, and how changes in the world can affect us in the future.

The second week we strayed a little further away from the document, and instead studied broader strategies based around products and marketing. We were asked to compile our products into packages, which worked out great for me because our Coworking Passport is a package in itself! The idea of these was to make our businesses easier for both ourselves and our customers to understand, though I would argue that this method might not be necessary for all types of businesses.

We spent most of the week on marketing, learning how to get the most out of social media advertising both paid and unpaid, as well as customer profiling and targeting. This was the least useful part of the course for me only because I have experience in social media marketing anyway. However it was still useful in the respect that it made me really rethink our current social media usage. Since the course, I have now created a new social media marketing plan that will hopefully bring us greater results.

The main focus was all about identifying customer pains, and this was a great subject to touch on as it really brought the idea into the spotlight and allowed us to focus on our customer needs and pains when working on different elements of the plan. After this we learnt all about designing websites which again, I have experience in, and so was able to work well in this module. On the Thursday of the second week, we had Robin Waite, a business coach, come in to offer his experience and expertise in sales and business growth. I really enjoyed his session as he was genuinely really passionate about his line of work and focused a lot on mindset and attitude adjustment which really gave me a lot to think about – though he did tell us that SMART goals (something that Angela had been teaching that same morning) were a load of rubbish!

We started the final week off with an introduction to sales which touched on a whole host of different sales techniques both devised by Angela herself, and other proven methods from successful business people. We looked at AVID (audience, value, invitation, delivery) which focused on the who, what, where and why of our businesses, as well as the 3P Triad System which looked at products, price and position. Finally, we looked at the Lead MAGNET (mailers, advertising, games, networking, expertise, trials) Menu, which laid out a sales pitch similar to a menu in a restaurant, and used ‘starter’, ‘main’ and ‘dessert’ as different tiers of product selling.

At first, I was a little confused about the analogies. However after completing the session I felt a lot of these were really useful techniques to use when selling, and all offered various ways of thinking, which allowed for them to be stretched across any type of business. We spent most of the rest of the week focusing on customer experience as well as building a successful team. I enjoyed the customer experience session as it is so important to keep customer service to a high standard throughout their journey, and so thinking about this will lead me to ensure I’m offering the best I possibly can to our members throughout my work.

Overall, I enjoyed the course a lot; we learned so much more than I’ve outlined already and I think my brain is still trying to digest all the information. I met some great people who have some really amazing business ideas, and even got to sample some prototype tiramisu! Angela was a great mentor, she offered some valuable information and ideas but joined us as a peer rather than a leader, making us feel really welcomed and comfortable.

My only criticism would be that some of the sessions were taught using one model, and I didn’t feel the same model could be used for every business type. However I would highly recommend the course to anyone looking to start, or in their initial stages of their business, as it really offers great support and guidance not only from Angela but from the whole group. The course has helped me to be a lot more focused on everything I’m doing, especially in the marketing and sales side, and has given me the confidence and means to be able to start my own business in the near future.

Megan Prendergast is employed by George T&D as a Business Developer, with primary responsibility for the Cheltenham Coworking social enterprise.

Launching Scrum Master Training, in Cairo

Just put the finishing touches to the first release of while spending a few days in Cairo training Scrum Masters.

Over the last two years, we’ve had so many requests for Scrum Master training it seemed sensible to move that training to a separate website. In time, we’ll upload some useful resources for Scrum Masters too. For now, it just includes my two-day Preparation for Professional Scrum Master 1 course. This is by far the most popular course and is ideal for delegates looking to get their first rung on the ladder of their Scrum Master career.‘s Professional Scrum Master (PSM1) certification has become increasingly popular over the last few years and is a good basic qualification. I liken it to gaining your driving test. You may not be a very experienced Scrum Master, but the PSM1 assessment shows you have sufficient understanding of Scrum to help others understand it too.

It was great to spend a few days around the pool in a Cairo hotel tidying up the website. One of the things I really love about my job as a trainer is the freedom to work from different locations. Not always as exotic as places like Cairo, but varied nonetheless. I see this as they way forward for many folks in the years to come, as more and more of us become increasingly independent and flexible in our working locations. I’m not the only one who thinks that way, as the rise of coworking spaces in the last few years reveals.

It was also great to spend an additional couple of days training an enthusiastic group of Egyptian software testing consultants and helping them to get to grips with Scrum. It seemed very appropriate to be launching the new website in Egypt. The growth of Scrum in Africa and the Arabic-speaking world is another growing trend and I look forward to training more Scrum Masters in these areas, to aid that growth.

Coworkers Quarterly Meeting

A big part of developing Cheltenham Coworking is engaging with members and asking for their ideas as to how they’d like to see the service progress. Every quarter we hold a member’s meeting in which we can share our progress and our aims for the coming months, as well as allowing members to have their say.
In July, we held our second quarterly meeting of the year, which was very kindly hosted by Anna Poulton at Cheltenham Art Office. We wanted to hold the meeting here, as Art Office is one of our valued passport venues and we thought it would be a nice idea for some of our newer members to meet Anna and see the space, as well as allowing her to be more involved in everything we’ve got going on. Anna was a wonderful host and provided some delicious cake!

There were plenty of ideas shared around which has given us a lot to think about. Our main aim at the moment is to host more regular networking events to help bring our members together and create a stronger community of like-minded business men and women. A suggestion that was made to add to this was to hold monthly social evenings that can be completely casual and simply give the members and chance to get to know one another in an informal setting.

I feel this would be a great way to engage with the group and create a better relationship with our members. We could also use this as an opportunity to both bring in new members, and make better connections with other venues, with an idea being to host each evening at different partner or potential partner venues around Cheltenham.
To keep track of all the new events we hope to be hosting, it was suggested that we should create a calendar page on our website where members can easily see what’s coming up, and even book into the events straight from our website. This would allow us to communicate with our members much easier, as I have found that it is sometimes difficult to reach everyone, as everyone has different preferred communication tools, so a page on the website would allow everyone to find out the relevant information at their own convenience. Hopefully, this would also give members the ability to organise and add their own events, as this is definitely something we want to encourage in the future. This is now at: Calendar

Finally, continuing with the work we’ve put in so far with the skills workshops, suggestions for other workshops people would like to see offered were writing for business, getting the most out of your LinkedIn profile, and managing your finances. With this we’d really like to see members hosting their own workshop sessions and sharing their own skills amongst one another.

I felt the meeting was really successful, and we got a lot of positive feedback of how we’re doing which is always nice to hear. I hope that these meetings will continue to bring out further improvements and I hope that members continue to get involved in these sessions to continue to help us progress.

As an extra bonus we were able to go to Deya Brewery afterwards as well!


Hello from our new Cheltenham Coworking business developer

I have just started working full-time for George Traning & Development, taking responsibility for developing Cheltenham Coworking CIC, a social enterprise sponsored by George T&D.
I’m very familiar with Cheltenham Coworking CIC, as I have been working on a university placement since January. The placement was a business development role to help improve the membership service. It was in its first year of membership, so it was time to start working on something that could be sustainable and bring in even more members. We came up with the Coworking Passport: a membership card that would allow members to ‘travel’ around town to different coworking friendly venues and receive discounts and benefits, such as a free half day meeting room hire or free refills on coffee.
There was lots of planning that went into this which involved meeting up with venue owners, explaining what we wanted to do and seeing how they’d like to be involved. There was also some market research involved to find out what our members wanted to see offered on the service so we could tailor it to fit their needs in the best way. After this, we managed to get four venues, in addition to Create On The Square, offering their support to Cheltenham Coworking and generously giving our members exclusive benefits. We were really happy with the way the cards came out. They looked really smart and were able to act as an extra piece of promotion, with the hope that other people would see members using these cards and ask what they’re all about. We launched the cards at the Gloucestershire Business Show and were very enthusiastic about the response.
After this success, my placement was over, but I was asked to stay and work full time to continue with everything I was working on and keep improving the service even further. Originally, I had plans for more events and workshops that would get the members more involved with us and one another and so this was something that I was really keen to get started on right away. I wanted to encourage more engagement from the members as this is something I found slightly difficult to get before the business show, so I wanted to show the new members that we are actively working on projects to help them in even more ways.
We decided that it would be good to have an entire day dedicated to our members and to coworking, as this would hopefully be convenient for members especially for those who work from home so they could get out for the whole day. We have come up with Coworking Wednesdays, which we can hopefully implement in the coming weeks, which will allow for different opportunities throughout the day. Our plan is to start the day with a social brunch that we can also incorporate our surplus food project into, where members can come along, eat and drink, and chat with us and other members. After this, the afternoon will be free for members to work in whichever way they please; either on their own, with one another, or with us. Finally, the day will end with Wednesday Workshops: a training session that teaches the basics of business planning and growth. The workshops offer a different topic each week and allow visitors to learn new skills. Not only are they good for the members, but while I’m still learning my job it’s really good for me to get new perspectives on ways of thinking and improving everything I’m doing.
As part of the service we offer the option for members to use Create on the Square as a registered office address as well as getting their mail delivered here for collection. I feel this is something that is not being utilised as much as I’d like it to be and so have begun devising a policy for this so members have a clearer understanding on exactly what this involves. We’d also like to expand our mail service to include mail forwarding, and so I am looking into the logistics of these type of services and how we can best run this. I feel this is a good extra option to offer our members and adds another point to our ever-growing list of benefits. Registering a business allows the owner to have their company name and logo displayed at Create. I’d really like to promote this service because I feel having a range of different company details displayed at Create shows a sense of community and collaboration and that’s what we’re all about.
Looking forward to the future, my aims for the year are to have around 100 members from all walks of life and business sectors, as well as having around 10-15 venues on our passport who offer a range of different facilities to suit all needs. I’d like to target newer venues as I feel it’s good to get involved with these places from the start, helping both us and our members, as well as helping them with extra promotion and growth in their early days. Finally, I’d like to see different events happening every week, with a variety of choice, from networking workshops to social evenings, and would in particular like to see members hosting their own sessions on a regular basis. There are new opportunities popping up every day and we’re always coming up with new ideas, and so I am excited to see what the future of Cheltenham Coworking brings!