Get­ting to the hub of the mat­ter

Herald Sun - - BUSINESS - CLAIRE HEANEY

MI­CRO busi­ness owner Caron Mar­garete is part of a grow­ing num­ber of sole traders and small busi­ness own­ers set­ting up in co-work­ing hubs.

She runs busi­ness ad­min­is­tra­tion com­pany Your Third Hand from the NAB Vil­lage in Dock­lands.

While many peo­ple run­ning busi­nesses keep over­heads down by work­ing from home, Ms Mar­garete likes to take the 25-minute train trip and work out of the co-work­ing space.

She is a hired trou­bleshooter, con­tracted by busi­nesses to set up pro­cesses and sys­tems that en­able small busi­ness op­er­a­tors to fo­cus on what they are good at.

With a back­ground in cus­tomer ser­vice, mar­ket­ing, train­ing and event man­age­ment, Ms Mar­garete has built the busi­ness on the back of re­fer­rals.

“I was blown away by how in­cred­i­ble the space is,” she said. “I am lov­ing the ex­pe­ri­ence of evolv­ing my small busi­ness here.”

Use of the Vil­lage, which opened in Fe­bru­ary, 2014, is free for NAB ac­count hold­ers.

Last Fri­day the Vil­lage won the non-dig­i­tal chan­nels cat­e­gory of the Fi­nan­cial In­sights In­no­va­tion Awards held in Sin­ga­pore. The award cov­ered in­no­va­tions from fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions in the Asia Pa­cific.

About 1400 work­ers take ad­van­tage of free wi-fi, net­work­ing, meet­ing and learn­ing spa­ces at the Vil­lage.

NAB small busi­ness gen­eral manager David Ban­natyne, who was on a steer­ing com­mit­tee for the devel­op­ment of the 700 Bourke St site, said a key fac­tor in the suc­cess was its ground-floor lo­ca­tion.

“It opens up the build­ing to the com­mu­nity. We ac­tu­ally al­low peo­ple to come in­side and feel wel­come,” he said.

Mr Ban­natyne said small busi­nesses and not-for-prof­its were flour­ish­ing in the cowork­ing en­vi­ron­ment.

“I think we got it right. I walked through there and saw two char­i­ties, Save the Chil­dren and Vi­sion Australia, in the room next door with white­boards,” he said.

Lib­er­ated Work, a pa­per coau­thored by Caro­line McLaren, stud­ies the spa­ces’ growth.

Ms McLaren, the co-founder of CoAc­tiv8 which sets up smart work­ing hubs, said the move­ment to “lib­er­ated” work was seen in what she termed the ex­po­nen­tial growth of cowork­ing spa­ces and hubs.

Caron Mar­garete con­duct­ing busi­ness at NAB Vil­lage. Pic­ture: MIKE KEAT­ING

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