It’s not easy to run a coliving

Sit Down, Let Mama Carlos Tell You About Coliving

OK, so you’re starting a coliving. Great! I’m sure you’re excited about that. I know how it feels, but I also know what your fears are. Believe me, I’ve been there. However, it’s never been a better time to jump into this space.

Your first two thoughts are probably: One, what are the financials, do they make sense? Two, Will I be able to fill the space up?

But I’m sure that what you’re not thinking about is, how will I be running it? You’re probably not thinking about processes, best practices, managing a community, and risk management. The reason is, a coliving is like an iceberg, people just perceive the tip of it. But the rest, it’s taken for granted, or it’s just ignored, and you shouldn’t.

I remember the same tired conversation I had at Startup Embassy with new guests. After checking them in and showing them around, it went like this:

– New guest, looking around, then to the ceiling: “OK, nice. So, apart from this (running Startup Embassy), what else do you do?”

– Me, thinking: “I fucking want to kill you.” Then with a forced smile, “Just this! You see, I like to touch my balls”.

It took me a while to understand that it was a valid and understandable question. In fact, it should be that way. Guests shouldn’t see the effort that comes with running a coliving. The simpler they see it, the better you’re doing your job. 

That comes with some drawbacks, like they might not perceive the real value you bring, and in their minds, you’re just a commodity and won’t stand out against the competition. Until, of course, they move to a different coliving and come back to you two days later. That happened so often, I would encourage them to check out the competition.

Guests shouldn’t see the effort that comes with running a coliving

That was part of my value proposition’s teaching process. They don’t see it? Try some other space. They would come back to Mama Carlos with the understanding of why we were special, and if they didn’t, hey, they probably weren’t a fit.

The point that I want to make is that running a successful coliving is not easy.

When a coliving works, it’s because there’s a team of professionals that love what they do. They cultivated specific knowledge and passionately apply it. If you’re thinking about starting a coliving, don’t take this excitement for granted.

All this knowledge comes, of course, from experience. We all hate rules, and when I started Startup Embassy, we had none. Inevitably, situations grew that demanded action. These “situations” result organically from having diverse humans living together and sharing the space. Some issues arise immediately, while others take years to see the pattern. The latter ones are tough to see without foresight. Keep reading, and you’ll get that from this blog.

Each unique issue leads to consideration, which results in a new rule or process. You must be mindful, as you don’t want to overload guests with crazy rules that break the culture or make your coliving a hellish experience. The majority of these processes fall under this “unseen iceberg” rule.

After more than eight years of running Startup Embassy in Palo Alto, I’ve become an expert in the field. This post is the second of an article series that share with you my experience of coliving management.

Expect a full year’s worth of content coming to Coliving From the Trenches, with posts every Tuesday. Please subscribe to my newsletter if you don’t want to miss any tips, tricks, or updates. In my next post, we go back to basics, which is community. I’ll talk about the importance of understanding your guests and the quickest way to instill a sense of belonging.

Maybe I can save your business, time, or even your life from a fire. Perhaps you just want a good read. Anyhow, I’m happy that you’re reading this, and I welcome you to my Coliving Guide! 

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Alfonso Sainz de Baranda y López-Artamendi
2 years ago

Carlos what if we talk about this in clubhouse?

Michael Steinmann
2 years ago

Hey Carlos — great to see this come alive! Congratulations! Looking forward to read through all your insights and stories over the months to come. And yes, of course I also signed up to your newsletter! 😀

Sweta Khandelwal
2 years ago

Thank you for sharing this. I have subscribed to the newsletter and look forward to seeing more. Every coliving- whether a marriage or a community like this is an ecosystem:) Have to have some rules and it is best if the rules evolve organically:)

2 years ago

[…] many times) It’s not easy to run a coliving. Managing a space is strenuous and takes a mental toll on anyone. If you want to avoid the pain I […]

2 years ago

[…] said it many times, running a coliving can be demanding. On top of managing the physical property, you’re also cultivating a robust and healthy […]

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