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    There’s no place like CTO

    Views of Table Mountain from CTO

    There’s no place like CTO

    Working with awesome people, all the time. 

    In December a digital nomad called Jacob arrived in Cape Town and needed a coworking space.  He’s been on the ‘road’ for a little over a year now, spending a month or more per Country before he moves on to the next, utilizing all the tools you’d imagine from Coworker.com, Air B&B to Uber

    Digital nomad 101

    Jacob chose CTO as his base for the six week period he would spend in Cape Town. Why? Well, we’re open 24hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year… no really, we’re open to members all the time.  His hours of work fall somewhere between South Africa and the United States and so you can imagine the phrase ‘burning the midnight oil’ coming to life here. 

    Coffee & Beer

    In true digital nomad style, Jacob figured out the key essentials from how to make the coffee to where the beer fridge was, because these are important ingredients to a productive work day. On the 31st of December his company rolled out a huge software update and to ensure nothing went wrong, Jacob was in the office holding the forte! Hashtag commitment, right there. 

    All the feels

    When the time came for  Jacob to  leave Cape Town, we said our good bye’s and off he went. What came next, well that just blew me away. I always ask members to write a review on their experience of CTO but given that we’re all busy people it doesn’t always happen, so when I got the Google notification that a new review had been left… well, rather than me tell you, here’s what Jacob said. 

    I’m a digital nomad, traveling the world, one country per month. I’ve seen my fair share of co-working spaces – the good, the bad, and the ugly. CTO is, hands down, my favorite co-working office at which I’ve had the pleasure of working. It’s just the perfect blend of business casual that lends itself to the most optimal work environment. As I write this review from a co-working office in Peru, that’s decent, but isn’t CTO!

    Now you can understand why I say that I work with awesome people, all the time at CTO. Coworking and being the host of a space like CTO, is just the best job.

    …There’s no place like CTO.

     

    February 19, 2019
    Business Cape Town co-working Collaborate cowork coworking Entrepreneur Entrepreneur Network Internet networking Shared Office SME Social media SouthAfrica Start-up Uncategorized

    The art of networking

    The art of networking

    Networking; it’s the oxygen to your business.

    Without oxygen, we can’t survive. (To state the obvious) Without networking, your business can’t survive either. As a solo-preneur  it’s tough to balance this whilst having to work  in the business, but there are quick and affordable  hacks I can offer. Through the years of running my coworking space, I’ve picked up a few time saving tricks along the way that I’d love to share with you. 

    LinkedIn

    Allocate 30 mins per week to LinkedIn

    1. Update your profile with your latest projects & work
    2. Reach out to former clients & colleagues for recommendations
    3. Always  include a personalized note when requesting to connect 
    4. Engage in discussions 

    Events

    Not the easiest when work & life is already so time consuming, but this is not something you should skip. Attending a talk, workshop or networking event once a month is a have to.  Here’s what I’d recommend: 

    1. Find your tribe. There are many events to pick from, so finding the best suited event to match your skill set, service and target market is key.  
    2. Do your homework. Before and after events, make sure you connect with people you’ve met by reaching out on LinkedIn
    3. Get in, get out. Events can carry on & on, so if you’re pushed for time suggest meeting up that week or the next for a coffee to talk more. 

    Clients

    When we first woe a client, it’s nothing short of roses and chocolates in the beginning. We do what’s necessary to get the business and sadly when we start working with these clients, somehow the romance is all but dead.  Don’t let it happen. Finding new business is much harder and more expensive than making sure your current client feels valued. Surprise them by making them know how much you value their business. 

    Top tips:

    1. Check in regularly, but not irritatingly often
    2. Show sincere interest in their business by making sure you know what’s going on
    3. Share your clients’ social media posts on your network

    Coworking

    This is  perhaps the best thing you can do to grow your network. Joining a coworking space ensures you’re  constantly meeting new contacts that may well become your next client. There are many other benefits too, but perhaps best left for another blog post.  Here are my top tips when looking for a coworking space to join.

    1. Inspirational. Find a space that speaks to your values and inspires you to do your best work.
    2. Budget. Ensure you understand all the costs involved before joining.
    3. Flexibility. Don’t get tied down unnecessarily, so when opportunity knocks you can make the changes without fear of penalty
    4. Infrastructure. Make sure the things you need, i.e. fast reliable internet, 24/7 access, meeting rooms etc. are there & are well supported. 

    I  hope you’ve found a few these tips helpful. 

    Have a great rest of your week! 

    February 18, 2019
    Business Business Plan Cape Town co-working Collaborate community cowork coworking Entrepreneur Entrepreneur Network networking Start-up

    POA

    P.O.A Sessions @ CTO

    Greetings fellow Entrepreneurs and Hustlers out there. I bring you good tidings! In January, yes next month, we kick off the first in a series of P.O.A Sessions at CTO. I know we love a good ackronym, so let me not keep you in suspense any longer. 

    P.O.A = Plan Of Action (can I hear a hells yes!)

    So, what it is and how does it work?

    In a series of Monday morning sessions, Cape Town Office coach Lauren Franze invites you to be part of this dynamic group coaching forum designed to support you, the Entrepreneur in taking your business to the next level.

     

    The POA focuses on 5 key aspects:

    • Think better and bigger
    • Design and execute a highly efficient strategy
    • Examine habits and mindsets which undermine productivity
    • Consider your skill set and identify development areas
    • Optimise your energy flow

     

    Each 2-hour session allows for both group and individual participation. Members can both be coached, and observe others receive coaching. Collaboration and group support is encouraged and facilitated as well, to build a constructive, supportive environment for the individuals, and the forum.

    Why should you do this?

    A recent ICF (international coaching federation) study published the following results from organisations who made use of business and personal coaches for their staff or teams, and this was the result.

    Productivity improvements

    • 70% in work performance
    • 61% in business management
    • 57% in time management
    • 51% in team effectiveness

    When / Where / How much?

    Session 1: 22 January
    Session 2: 29 January
    Session 3: 05 February
    Session 4: 12 February

    Time: 08h30 to 10h30
    Where: Cape Town Office, 62 Roeland Street, Gardens 8001
    Cost: R850.00 per person [Public] / R650 per person [Cape Town Office members]

    For more information on Lauren Franze, please visit www.laurenfranze.com 

    Sessions are limited to 8 participants at a time, to ensure a close-knit group dynamic, optimal individual attention and time efficiency.

    Sign up / Find out more – send Lauren an email now. 

    December 06, 2017
    Business Cape Town co-working Collaborate community cowork coworking Entrepreneur Entrepreneur Network Investment networking Pitch Shared Office SME SouthAfrica Start-up

    Growth

    Growth: how do I grow my business? 

    You’ve done the important bits. You’ve taken the idea you came up with at 3am in the morning and turned it into a business. Through your immediate network of College or University buddies and family, you’ve signed up your first customers and things are going well. And now, you’re in that uncomfortable, comfortable position of having happy clients that keep your cash flow ticking over, but no new business. The uncomfortable bit, in case that wasn’t clear, is the thought of “What happens if I lose one or more of those first clients”, what then? 

     

    I’ve spent the last 12+ years working with startups and small businesses, helping them create, expand and nurture their prospect and sales pipeline. It’s a field I know well and have come and believe vital to the survival of these businesses. What surprises me more and more, however is just how few of the companies I encounter here at Cape Town Office, a coworking space, pay any attention to this practice. 

     

    Why?

    A lot of the time, founders of startups are way too busy to dedicate the time needed to make some cold calls, attend networking functions and set up meetings to grow their audience. The other part, and probably more key, is the lack of funding to employ a seasoned new business developer that can fulfill this function for the business. Granted, these are two pretty valid “reasons”  but, there if you think there’s a choice in the matter, I’m here to tell you that you’re sorely mistaken.

    Developing a sales pipeline is not glamorous or sexy, but it’s as vital to the growth of a new business, just as the air you’re breathing right now. There is no maybe, but or perhaps, you HAVE to do this, or as good as your idea might be, that’s all it will remain…an idea. 

    I’d like to provide you with some ideas on how you can bootstrap your lead generation process, which you can adapt and expand as you grow. 

    1.  Set up a CRM platform, one that you like to use! 
    2.  Funnel your contact list into the CRM, from ambassadors to influencers and prospects
    3. Spend no less than 5 hours per week on growing this database 
    4. Proactively communicate to your audience weekly; either by phone calls or emails 
    5. Set targets: make sure you get out of the office at least 3 to 4 times a week meeting with potential clients 

     

    Resources

    1. CRM: I’ve used a bunch of them in recent years and find the differences between them to usually be small. Affordability is a key driver, so make sure you’re not paying $100’s for functionality that you might never need. Keep it simple. 
    2. Consultants: Reach out to the experts to help you define a clear strategy 
    3. Join a co-working space, which makes sharing of resources and knowledge far easier than being on your own

     

    At the end of the day you can’t expect to grow your business without new customers and you can’t expect to gain those new customers, if they don’t know about your business. So, that’s my thought of the week for you. Go out there and talk to as many people as you can about what it is you do and why they need to jump on board! 

    Go get ’em! 

    October 23, 2017
    Business Cape Town co-working Collaborate community cowork coworking Design Entrepreneur Entrepreneur Network Internet networking Shared Office Social media SouthAfrica

    I left the house, and I liked it.

    I left the house, and I liked it

    Reflections of a first time coworker…

    This month we asked CTO Chief, Sarah to reflect on her first month (ever) in a coworking space and here is what she had to say. 

    242h

    So, my thoughts on my first month of being in a coworking space: I can honestly say that now that I’m able to look back on my time working from home, I can only laugh at myself in semi-exhausted hysteria. We all hear the stories of entrepreneurs and how tough it is, the sleepless nights and needing to be a jack of all trades. Not to mention that creating a successful business becomes synonymous with how little sleep you are getting, instead of how efficient you are actually being. Now two thoughts come to mind: first, that the jack of all trades is the master of none, and second, a line I remember from Scrooge Mc’Duck: “work smarter not harder.” I am now acutely aware of both in hindsight. 

    So perhaps, before I go on, I should mention what it is that I do for a living (to put this all in perspective). I am an Airbnb host, as well as an interior designer for Airbnb spaces and vacation rental homes. The focus of my interior design company is offering e-design packages, and while I’m based in Cape Town most of my clients thus far have been based in America. Sounds ideal, right? Airbnb host and designer, working from the comfort of home with an incredible view of Table Mountain, earning in US dollars.

    No, No No. Let me elaborate. Airbnb guests, as incredible as they are, are more interested in discussing the tourist attractions the city has to offer than your design conundrums (or, more importantly, acknowledging your looming deadline). The two roles become very blurred, and it’s hard to distinguish which one is the most important to nurture in that moment, as both are in fact income-generating. The human desire to be “likable” wins, and you find yourself negotiating how many hour of sleep are necessary for human survival while answering trivial touristy questions.

    The fallacy that I am living the dream of living in Cape Town while working with American clients and earning US dollars needs to be right sized, and quickly. Why? Well, I have two reasons, but both come down to the same frustrating issue: the internet. Firstly, have you ever tried having Skype consultations while you are trying to troubleshoot your WiFi connection? Let me tell you, it is most unpleasant. Secondly, the Design software I use is available online, which has two benefits: I don’t have to pay for licencing software, and I don’t have to upgrade my laptop (which solves the start-up’s ongoing problem of managing expenses). Have you ever tried to explain to Americans, a nation renowned for suing the likes of Nike because their shoelace came undone, that you are unable to meet your deadline because the internet has stopped working? There is not enough Prozac in the world to prepare you for that WhatsApp conversation.

    So five consultants and a few twitter posts later I realise that I need to “cease fighting” and get on with the designs that are now very overdue, as Uncle Sam is a bit hot under the collar. The only problem is that the WiFi still isn’t working, and the technician is only due the following day. So the only solution is the WLAN cable (which is too short to reach the desk) and I end up setting up shop on the kitchen floor. My Airbnb guest is strongly advised that cooking dinner is a really bad option given the current state of affairs, and is thrust a takeout menu.

    The other conundrum one faces is the design of your interior space: Is it that your bed is too close to your desk, or your desk too close to your bed? Both are true. There are days when you just seem to be in the flow and the ideas feel endless and you really want ride the wave, so to speak. So as you climb into bed and the next idea hits you like a lightning bolt, the desk is just too close to resist jumping up and switching on the laptop to start beavering away again till the early hours. The following day is generally when your motivation and your concentration are at an all-time low. Then it the bed that is too close to your desk. It would be so easy to just jump in and have that refreshing nap, the only thing stopping you is guilt. If it weren’t for that feeling of guilt and the fear of missing that one email that is about to change your destiny forever, you would Nike it (or said another way, Just do it). 

    275hSo instead you convince yourself that to carry on working is the best option. You spend hours researching whether a WordPress or Wix website is the best option. So the journey into the internet begins, and suddenly I am wondering when it was that I started caring about Brad and Angelina’s divorce? And just as I am arriving at a point where I am about to make a decision as to whether I am team Brad or team Jolie, the internet bombs out on me, again. 

    So, given my flair for drama, I think I have painted a fairly accurate picture of some of the frustrations experienced while working from home. It still does not negate that starting a business is stressful, and there are serious and sometimes paralyzing fears regarding expenditure. So why did I opt to join a co–work space? Sanity is the most concise answer I can give you. I based my final decision on this simple formula: Number of chargeable hours lost due to internet issues multiplied by my hourly rate. Viola! It suddenly made sense. 

    In fact I could in all probability rent two desks a months based on my elementary calculation. Why would I even contemplate two desks? So that I had somewhere for my ego and a whole new set of fears to sit while I was trying to get work done. I could not believe that lunacy had returned on my first day at my new desk – it was like my first day at school all over again. What if nobody likes me? What if everyone thinks what I do for a job is stupid? What if they peer over my shoulder watching me as I surf the World Wide Web?

    Honestly, as if someone could even read the words on my screen when they are five desks away. The words are smaller than the last letter on those eye tests that optometrists make you take. The other truth that was hard for ego to digest is that people are not like cats: they don’t hover around my computer watching the mouse dart across the screen. They are genuinely interested in themselves and committed to their daily tasks.

    Having said all that, it does not mean that they don’t care about you – there are plenty of opportunities to engage over the coffee machine, while preparing lunch, or on the collaboration platform. And yes, they may know someone who knows someone who is interested in your services. With such a variety of companies that use the space, I have been fortunate enough to meet someone who has untangled the spider web of confusion I had spun around WordPress vs Wix. So, combined with the advice, step-by-step guidance, and fear of what people will think of me if they find out if I am team Brad or team Jolie, I have managed to focus my efforts and get on with tasks.

    What it really comes down to is – yup, you guessed it – connection, both internet and human.

    Sarah is the founder of Urban Savvy Design, a consultancy based in Cape Town that provides bespoke design services to Air B&B hosts and operators.

    Contact her:

    [email protected]https://www.facebook.com/UrbanSavvyDesigns/

     

    March 21, 2017
    Africa Business Cape Town co-working Collaborate community cowork coworking Entrepreneur Entrepreneur Network hub networking Shared Office SouthAfrica Start-up

    Coworking; it’s more than just a desk.

    The journey of any coworker starts with a simple request; “I’d like to rent a desk” and usually followed by, “how does it work”.

    I get asked that question nearly 5 to 6 times a day, from people looking to get out of the house and home office environment and into a shared office, where they can come to and get some work done. Of course, I give them all the information such as cost, what’s included and how our membership is structured, but what I can’t tell them (yet), is just how much more there is to coworking than simply renting a desk in an office.

    I mean, how can you? For the most part,  it’s fair to say that my experience will differ from yours as yours will from mine, but in this world of coworking and indeed Cape Town Office, I can tell you this.  Every single coworker that’s come through the door has at one point or another said this to me…”it’s so much more than I could ever have imagined”. The reason for this in 99% (and I’ll tell you about the 1% is in a moment) of cases, is the people, their new coworkers.

    It’s not just someone that they’re sitting next to in an office, it’s someone they go hiking up Lions Head with before work. It’s someone they go surfing with, or surf school because they’ve always wanted to learn and now they have someone to do it with. It’s someone they go trail running with on a Saturday in Stellenbosch. It’s someone they meet up with on a Sunday morning to watch the cricket over breakfast in the Waterfront, because let’s face it, it’s not something my wife loves doing any day, but especially a Sunday.

    ctocrewlionshead

    The other 1%? Well, they claim it’s Pac-Man ….so who am I to argue with that.

    Coworking is a VERB,  the space we do it in is secondary to the people we do it with is how Adam Teterus of Indy Hall so beautifully explained it at CWA2015. And I for one, couldn’t agree more.

    Happy October kids x

    October 10, 2016
    Africa Cape Town co-working Collaborate community cowork coworking Internet networking Not for Profit Shared Office SouthAfrica

    Conservation Coworking

    Coworking unusual

    CSA Ops Team 2016

    January 2016

    I received a phone call from Amanda, head of Operations for Conservation South Africa. They need office space. I was a little thrown by the idea that a “traditional” crowd like CSA were keen to explore coworking, but Amanda explained that they were in a desperate situation as their current office had awful internet and they simply can’t get any work done.

    When Amanda and the team arrived for the first viewing I could tell from the expressions and the look of fear on their faces, that this would be a giant leap from what they know. “We have to work in an open plan office?” I overheard someone saying and “But what if they hear us on the phone?” from another. As I’ve done my fair share of viewings, I thought, well this was worth a shot, but clearly coworking is not for them.

    To my absolute surprise, Amanda called me a day or two later; “The rest of the team want to see the space, when can we come for a 2nd viewing?” To cut a long story short, they came and saw and the board approved the move. From day one, due to our rather brilliant internet here, the team were up and running with a tunnel straight to their USA data center, a first for team CSA I might add, and they just blended right in to the 3rd floor.

    At first, there was reluctance from the rest of the CSA crew to adapt to this “new” way of working, but to their credit, the Operations team focused on the bits that worked and before they knew it, they were 21st century coworkers and loving it. Meeting new people over a cup of coffee, bringing in cookies to share with the office and even joining the office lunch at Dias Tavern!

    It was an absolute pleasure having the team here for 6 months. They’ve now moved into their own (bigger office) in a more central location (Southern Suburbs) for the extended team to make use of as well.

    Amanda and I got to chatting a few weeks before the big move and what delighted me most was to hear from her that their time at Cape Town Office has hands down been the most productive time, ever for CSA. They’ve learnt so much from the experience in fact that when they designed their new office, they replicated their work pod from Cape Town Office so that the team can continue to work together, rather than splitting them up into separate offices as they did before.

    Well done to Amanda and the team for being brave enough to try something new & we wish you all the best in your new CSA home.

    I thought I’d share this as a testament to the fact that we do work better when we cowork!

    Photocred to CTO member, David Harris

    September 16, 2016
    Africa APP development Business co-working Collaborate community conference cowork coworking Digital Entrepreneur Entrepreneur Network hub incubators Investment networking Shared Office SME SouthAfrica Start-up techhubs Uncategorized

    Coworking Africa, a growing community.

    coworking-Africa-Conference-2015-970X180

    Coworking Africa

    On the 5th of February we had the 2nd meetup of Coworking Africa at the Design Bank, in the East City of Cape Town. Organised by the Coworking Europe crew, this was very much a spur of the moment event as a follow on from the very first gathering in 2015.

    Like the first #CWAfrica conference, the content was rich and the contributors all evangelical about the growth of the coworking movement on African soil. What’s clear is that we [operators / owners] are all passionate about the people we’re creating these amazing spaces for; the freelancers, the entrepreneurs, the lone rangers out on a mission to start his/her own business and desperate to get out of “coffee shop working” and into a community of like minds. We understand how crucial enabling this environment is to the bigger picture, i.e. the growth of our economy and that any part we can play in helping the start-ups and small businesses can only be a great thing for the South African and greater African economy.

    For example, we heard at the meet up that there’s so much good news around the growth of Fintech in Cape Town, be it the vast amount of talent Cape Town has to offer the Tech (global) scene, that could rival any San Francisco, London and Silicon Valley today. And the influx of investment that leads to the creation of more Hubs and Incubators that in turn feeds beautifully into coworking spaces. It’s all very good news!

    Now for the part that’s not so good… YET! A clear message from the unconference part of the day was that more needs to be done to assist those who live outside of our cities, in townships and informal settlements to help become part of our coworking communities. It’s not enough to offer discounted or even free space to these entrepreneurs and freelancers. Paying for a desk is only one part of the problem, what about the nearly R2,000 per month to travel in and out of town on top, not to mention lunch!

    We don’t have the answers to these complex social issues, not by a long shot, but participating in platforms like Coworking Africa brings us a little closer to finding those sustainable solutions. I look forward to the continued discussion around this subject and welcome you – yes you reading this – to put forward any ideas on how we can make this a reality.

    A big thanks to Vanessa and Coworking Africa for putting the day together with the help of Steven from The Design Bank and all the lovely people I met on the day! To catch the presentations and an overview by the organisors, read up about it here, http://coworkingafrica.com/2016/02/15/a-look-back-at-the-second-coworking-africa-2016-meetup/

    Keep an eye out for the next meetup & hope to see you there!

    Lizelle

     

    February 15, 2016
    co-working Collaborate community cowork coworking Entrepreneur Entrepreneur Network flexoffice Hot Desk hub incubators Uncategorized

    The growth of coworking.

    A friend shared this video with me today and so here it is, thanks Marius of Freelance Cape Town.  The growth of coworking in Cape Town has been staggering over the past two years which only proves that more people are waking up to the benefits of working from a coworking space.

    Coworking is no longer an idea or concept or even a thing of the future, Coworking is now.

    Video via Turnstone.

    November 04, 2015
    Africa Business Business Plan Cape Town co-working Collaborate cowork coworking Entrepreneur Entrepreneur Network networking SouthAfrica Start-up Uncategorized

    CTO Member Spotlight: October

    AfricanDreams

    African Dreams

    So I’ve decided to dedicate one post per month to a member’s business here at Cape Town Office and so ladies and gentleman may I introduce you to African Dreams.

    African Dreams is the brainchild of Danielle who arrived at Cape Town Office a few months ago after more than 10 years of living and working in Hong Kong. In that time she built up an incredible network of businesses in China through her company, Guanxi Connections, providing Event management | Design | Marketing services, just take a look at what some of her clients had to say, www.guanxi-connections.com/testimonials.html

    But, like any entrepreneur, she quickly saw that there’s an opportunity for her here in South Africa to bring China a  little closer to Africa and indeed bring Africa closer to China through African Dreams. She has carefully selected a diverse range of African products such as Organic food supplements, Specialty teas to Eco-furniture available via the website.

    So spread the news far and wide folks and help this entrepreneur get this business off the ground in style!

    To contact Danielle and chat about importing/exporting goods to China, you’ll find her here.

    Twitter: https://twitter.com/BuyDanielle

    Email:  [email protected]

    WEB: http://www.africandreams.co/

     

    October 15, 2015