So you’re going to rally your local makers into a collaborative, community-based workplace. You’ll need a location, which can range from a mobile pop-up stored in your van to an 80,000-square-foot warehouse. You’ll need tools, which can be borrowed from members, donated by sponsors, or purchased. You’ll need a business plan.
After that, it’s all in the details. Here are six tips that you may not be thinking about yet but should be.
ASK FOR HELP
Your success will depend on finding a strong team to help you. Plus, there’s nothing that unites a community like a good volunteer build-out. Call everyone in to clean the space, paint the walls, move things around, and build some furniture. It is a makerspace, after all — have the first group project be the space itself.
BUILD WHAT PEOPLE WANT
You can design a multimillion-dollar, state-of-the-art facility, only to discover that everyone just wants a place where they can draw on the walls. Design the space for the community you have.
TO DIY OR NOT TO DIY
There’s always some member or volunteer who says we should do it ourselves. For building benches for the woodshop, that’s great. But for legal contracts, accounting, and wiring, make sure you find an expert.
IMAGINE THE BEST …
When planning your infrastructure and setting a vision with your community, imagine what you would do with a million dollars. Would you get the biggest space? Move to a prime location? Get the shiniest tools? Or offer all your services for free?
… BUDGET FOR THE WORST
Expect delays of all kinds. You might have to pay rent and utilities for months before you generate revenue. However long you think it will take to open, triple that.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
Others are solving these same problems all over the world. Visit their spaces, talk to the people who run them, check out Maker Media’s handbook, The Makerspace Workbench. There might even be a local library, university, or economic development office that’s thinking about doing the same thing.
Don’t worry; what you’re doing is hard but not impossible. Some of these things we did right at Artisan’s Asylum the first time, and some of them we had to learn the hard way. Good luck!