Looking after Essex’s SMEs

In the latest in our series of articles highlighting the role the flexible workspace industry plays in supporting the growth of businesses, and by extension the UK economy, we hear from Mark Kass.  Mark is CEO of The Hive Enterprise Centre in Southend-on-Sea.  Here he talks about some of the activities they undertake to help SMEs grow and realise their potential.

“We’re determined to make sure we’re more than just a Landlord” says Mark Kass, CEO of The Hive Enterprise Centre in Southend-on-Sea, Essex. “Our business is operating business buildings that build better businesses, which I know is not easy to say…but the success of our clients, is!” he added.

The Hive Enterprise Centre is a not-for-profit, social enterprise occupying 1500m2 of flexible workspace in a heritage building in the heart of Southend’s major regeneration zone, and has been a FlexSA member since 2015 when the Centre launched.

Kass’ Management Company, The Enterprise4Good Group, won a competitive tender to occupy the derelict Old Central Library in Southend based on a genuine commitment to local enterprise growth and partnership work with the Local Authority and the wider business support community. From the outset, The Hive’s mission has been to attract, retain and kick-start small business growth in a town not normally known for its entrepreneurial capabilities.

“We hear every day about the importance of SMEs in UK plc’s economics, and crucial to this is our ability to bring together really small and micro businesses out of the kitchens, dining rooms and bedrooms of founder entrepreneurs, into a space that encourages their start-up, survival and growth, makes them feel at home, offers them the best connectivity on every level, and without the distractions of TV’s, fridges, dogs and kids!” says Kass. He goes on to explain how The Hive Enterprise Centre model – like almost every other flexible space operator – offers total flexibility to work with its clients as it starts, shrinks and ultimately scales up.

“We designed The Hive to ensure we had everything under one roof for new and fledgling businesses and we deliberately chose to call it The Hive to reflect our total focus on collaboration.” says Mark.

“Our Social Enterprise status ensures we act responsibly with our profits, ensuring we deliver economic, social and environmental impact and we do this by funding our own free business growth workshops, conferences, exhibitions and networking activities for our clients and importantly, the wider local business community. All this is from our own profits and without a drain on the public purse or charging crazy license fees ”, he says proudly.

Kass continues, “Fundamental to all of this is our ability to offer flexible occupation terms to our clients using easy-in-easy-out licenses, making sure they have access to gigabit speed, state-of-the-art and future-proof internet connectivity and communications technology and an exciting and non-traditional working environment that stimulates productivity and the “at-work feelgood factor”.

As client businesses evolve, the team at The Hive actively encourages them to move between workspaces within the Centre buying “Space-as-a-Service” according to the businesses cash-flow situation rather than signing up for an often scary, long-term-fixed-term property commitment.

Kass is passionate about small business growth and his mantra of “an incredible customer experience….every single day”, drives his commitment to exciting and valuable flexible space operation. “Knowing a business has access to this month-by-month flexibility, helps ensure sustainability and ultimately its survival and growth. We talk to our clients every day and this openness and transparency between space occupier and operator is something you’ll only find in the flexible workspace industry.”

With many of  today’s commercial leaseholders increasingly using expensive, relationship damaging last-minute legal processes to get out of rent commitments often jeopardising the business of the building owner as well as their own, Kass is confident that the flexible workspace model is the way forward in the property industry.

“Communication is key to keeping everyone happy and maintain the economic growth we desperately need in the UK, and if leaseholders wait till the last minute to have that awkward conversation about rents and liabilities, it will always end up badly for someone!” explains Kass.

“Our team are well trained and experienced to talk, and more importantly listen, to our Licensees as part of our offer. We design and deliver workshops, seminars, Masterclasses and networking events on a demand-led basis according to what our clients tell us they need and often a discussion ensues about affordability of overheads, so we ALWAYS remind them that the joys of running their business from a flexible workspace like The Hive Enterprise Centre in Southend, means they can up-grade and down-grade their workspace to suit…..all they need to do is ask!”

3 September 2019

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