The Other Thing You Learned at College For Your Small Business

Remember sitting in class in college listening to a professor fill you head with knowledge that would eventually form the basis of your business?  Well now the time you spent in the dorm might help as well.  Small and startup business are increasingly sharing office space.  This system of "co-working" - sort of like finding a roommate for your business - is catching on in this economy because it offers more flexibility and lower costs to startup businesses.  According to the Wall Street Journal:

[S]mall business owners and professionals share space and office equipment, and pay short term leases, usually month to month. ... For entrepreneurs, it's a cheaper and more flexible alternative to renting or buying space of their own.... [Tobias] Roedinger estimates he is saving $300 to $400 per month on utility bills and not having to rent space he doesn't need.

Even more interesting is the fact that these co-working spaces are sometimes employing bartering rather than rent. According to Winnie Fung, a manager of a nonprofit co-working space in Brooklyn, N.Y.:

At least three or four people from the 10 in her co-working space have partially or fully bartered their services for desk space. ... Ms. Fung says a few months ago she made a deal with one of her members, a tech start-up owner, to look after the building's computers and Internet service in return for free space.

As I have written about before, start-ups will do themselves a service by bootstrapping as long as possible when getting started in order to maintain control and options for later.  This type of cost-reducing move can not only improve your bottom line, but also provide added networking.