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When to Ditch the Coffee Shop for Co-Working Workplace expert and entrepreneur Liz Elam on knowing when to say when to working out of your local café in favor of more professional accommodations.

By Liz Elam Edited by Dan Bova

Q: How do you know if you should leave the coffee shop and upgrade to co-working?

-name withheld

A: It's time to take the plunge -- and become a member of a co-working space -- when you're tired of fighting for outlets, packing up your stuff to go to the bathroom and spending more than $10 a day on coffee. Plus the constant interruptions and the brushes with snippy baristas is enough to make anyone want to flee the café scene, right?

I've been there. And if you're anything like me, by the time you get situated at a coffee shop, you're probably already stressed out. And you still have a full day of work ahead.

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Plus, there's the professional factor. If you want your clients to think your company is bigger than it is, won't it send the wrong signal if your internet connection cuts out during a Skype chat?

I am a true believer in the mantra "Fake it until you make it." And honestly, while working from a coffee shop is perfectly OK for a time, it will get old and could leave your company feeling woefully small in no time.

If you're still not convinced, the cost of dropping at least $10 a day on food and coffee at your office – I mean, the coffee shop – adds up. If you do the math, a co-working space is likely not that much more expensive.

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Co-working memberships at some spaces cost around $200 a month. That clocks in at about $7 a day. See what I see? The investment is totally worth it. And without all of the coffee shop distractions, you might even manage to take on more clients.

Beyond the affordability factor, there's of course the camaraderie that can be entirely useful for any startup founder. At co-working spaces, you can meet future co-founders, make connections with entrepreneurs in complementary businesses or even learn a new skill or two. If these kinds of results sound like they'll help your new company grow, then maybe co-working is for you.

For more on how to evaluate a co-working space, check out this video "How to Find a Co-Working Space That's Right for Your Startup" from's Antonio Neves, as well as our series on the subject. And for questions on co-working, don't forget to leave a comment below or Tweet us using the hashtag #YEask.

Liz Elam

Founder of Link Coworking

Liz Elam is the founder of Link Coworking and Link Too, co-working spaces in Austin, Texas. She does interior design and space consulting through Powered by Link. Elam is the former president and founder of co-working network group the League of Extraordinary Coworking Spaces and founder of national coworking association Coshare. Previously, Elam served as a sales executive at Dell. 

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