Should you setup your own local MMM headquarters?

After the feedback on the lonely post from last week (and the “rhythm” post from last month), I had to check this one out. Should you setup your own local MMM headquarters? This idea, suggested in the various post comments (I even got emails about it!), was one that we also thought about. But is it also financially feasible? What other benefits do you get? Is it worth it? Let’s find out!

Should you setup your own local MMM headquarters?

The idea by Pete was fun, and based on his latest post about it, also rewarding. Now Pete is only slightly more successful than we are (understatement of the year), and has more money to play with. If we do something like this, it has to make financial sense! Something tells me that charging just $50 (about €43) per month is not going happen.

I can have all the fun in the world, but there will be bills to pay each month. As we still like to become FI at some point, our money needs to work for us. Not the other way around! In short, let’s see if we can do something similar here in the Netherlands!

Should you setup your own local MMM headquarters?
Should you setup your own local MMM headquarters?

Property & Prices

Peter bought the place for $230.000 (~€200.000), or at least that was the asking price. For this he got a plot of about 700m² of land with a 220m² building (in need of some serious TLC). Well, trying to find this in western part of the Netherlands is like waiting until hell freeze over. Ain’t happening any time soon.

However, I did find a combo property located in a city in the western part of the Netherlands. It costs around €300.000-€310.000 (including fees, renovations and office supplies/setup) and has both a rental unit upstairs and office space downstairs. For this you get no yard, but you do get 100 of office space and 80 of living space.

How many people can you squeeze into 100. Based on this Dutch post about offices, you need around 4m² per person. But you also need space for a kitchenette, toilet, meeting room(s) and reception/relaxing area. Let’s assume we can create about 20 creative spaces here. As not everyone will be here at the same time, you might be able to accommodate up to 30 people in terms of revenue.

Operational Expenses

How much is the building going to cost you (total expenses). I’m going to ignore cash-flow here for now, but that should be somewhat similar (lower cash-flow expense on maintenance side but higher on the mortgage payments). Numbers are based on local real estate and financial knowledge from Mrs. CF based on her office expenses.

Total yearly operating expenses:

Total property:

  • Utilities: €1.800 (“green” energy) – office only
  • Wifi/internet: €1.200 – office only
  • Coffee/Tea/Snacks: €3.600 – office only
  • Insurances: €900 (entire building)
  • Property tax, garbage, other: €1.800 (entire building)
  • Office cleaning: €5.280
  • Small items: €600
  • Property maintenance and reservations (3%): €9.000
  • Write off inventory office (10 years): €1.655
  • Property manager residential unit (yearly): €600
  • Property manager tenant selection (residential unit): €514
  • Interest (3.5% @ €160.000): €5.600

Total yearly damage: €32,549…… ouch. The assumption is here that you don’t have a reception, as people can enter the building via a badge. Reception of clients has to be done by yourself in this case.

Operational Income

So what do you need in operational income to make this work? The residential property should be able to be rented out for about €850/month = €10.200 year (excluding any vacancy periods).

If you want to break even, you need the office space to provide you with about €22.500 in yearly revenue. Assuming that you can find 30 people to share this space with, the monthly fees need to be around €62.50. In itself that is not a lot of money for a co-working space!

Based on some market research I found most charge around €125-150 per month, but do come with reception/parking/etc. That being said, as a starting entrepreneur with little income, that is still a considerable amount of money!

Profit?

All the above is assuming you put €150.000 of your own money into this project. This is what we should have next week once we sell one of our investment properties to family.  As noted, at €62.5 you break even assuming 30 people actually participate.

If you jack up the prices to €75, which seems very acceptable still, you could make up to €4.500 per year. This is a ROI of 3% (maximum!) on your own money. You would have to charge €90 to make about €10.000 profit (or 6.6%), which is a very reasonable ROI. However, you need a full house for this. That might be hard in the first couple of years, if at all! As with €90 per month, you are getting awfully close to professional places with better amenities and an actual manned reception. I’m also not called MMM, which is not helping my cause here either. To put “Cheesy Headquarters” on the front door is probably also not a great idea….

What if you can only fill the 20 actual physical spots (assuming all people show up every day). You would need to charge about €95 per month to break even, which might still be possible but financially very risky! Also keep in mind that this is all including the residential tenant(s) in place and no vacancy.

The one thing not included is any increases in property value! That could potentially add a couple percent per year over the longer term.

Other “revenue” & opportunities?

Let’s assume you break even on finances, should you still do this? Should you setup your own local MMM headquarters? Are there any other opportunities to make money?

The idea behind these questions is that I would also be able to use the space myself for my side hustle. It would save money and provide me with space that I can use in the weekends and evenings for training and coaching sessions.

Other benefits obviously include social interaction (as noted in the lonely posts) and potential business development. Perhaps you find other people that you like to collaborate with, develop new projects with or just have fun with.

The idea is very interesting! But we (as I have discussed this with Mrs CF obviously) are not so sure about the financial aspect of this. We also have not been to the property in question, could be that it needs far more work done to make it work. Also the exit strategy is not formulated yet!

Lot’s to think about…… perhaps we should crowdfund this together??

 

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8 Comments

  1. Just make sure you don’t let these coworkers sneak off to do nefarious acts in the bathroom or breakroom… 🙂

    Good idea, and a growing trend here in the states (coworking). I think there’s some profit to be had here if you set it up right. But I’d look for better branding than the flannel frugal M3 model. Still, keep the keg. Brilliant.

  2. Indeed not very attractive returns. And there is a huge risk: your obligations are long term (mortgage for 20 years) where your income comes from short term contracts (co-working contracts are short term by nature). When an economic crisis happens (and in a 20 year period it is a given that this will happen at least once, probably two times) your occupancy will plummet but your costs not. This is a recipe to lose money.
    For a ‘fun’ read, look at what happened to the Regus stock during the crisis of 2008 (just choose custom and a start date before 2008 at http://investors.iwgplc.com/share-price-information). It is also why We-work is my number one preferred stock to go short when the next crisis rears his ugly head (lots of debt and a valuation that is crazy: https://www.ft.com/content/87c43322-755e-11e8-b6ad-3823e4384287).

    1. Could not agree more. Funny you mention Regus, they were one of the parties that I found that provided local options. Think they were the one with the €125/m option for co-working spaces. Oh wow, that is a rollercoaster price ride for Regus! Good luck with the short position, I can see the appeal!

  3. To be honest I think that the coworking space market is already oversaturated, at least in the Randstad area. You might have slightly more opportunity in up and coming areas, like Eindhoven. But it all looks rather risky.

    Especially with the trend of more and more retail rail estate becoming vacant. You could be entering a market where more and more cheaper competition pops up.

    I’d rather buy more residential real estate. Maybe try some studio letting?

    It does sound nice to enable some local activity though. Especially here in the more northern parts of NL.

    1. You might actually be right about that, I found a lot of places that offered co-working spaces when I was researching this post. Our personal preference is also residential real estate. This was more of a business case to see if it was possible with something that was on the market today. The goal would also not be to make lots of money, but have a social reward in terms of social interactions and increasing one’s network of people. Not everything in life has to make money 😉

  4. We can even have regional headquarters once more people join the bandwagon.. !

    Still sounds like an awesome idea, but the space sounds a bit small. Maybe we just have to wait until the frenzy on the housing market is over? Or build our own?

    With a larger venue, you could also rent it out as training rooms or host special events, instead of co-working space only.

    1. Heheh, thinking big, love it!
      Yes, the property was not particularly big, but it was reasonable value for money. Not MMM good, but still. However, the idea was to have al desk mobile, so you can create larger spaces for special events and training during evenings and weekends, so that is covered in this venue. Just didn’t add any extra revenue on the income side, as it would also require someone to open the doors, clean, etc.

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