The vast majority of young entrepreneurs may often find themselves looking over their shoulders, wondering if a more experienced competitor will beat them to the punch or display better judgment in his decision-making processes. A lack of experience can be an “Achilles heel” if left unattended at the critical early development stage, when a step in the wrong direction can cost precious time and money.
One approach to dealing with this apparent “gap” is through staffing or acquiring special advisors, but there is another method that offers an excellent track record – a success rate of 87% for participating companies versus 44% for the non-interested. Improving your odds for success is a number one goal for any early-stage development company
What is this other “method”? The answer is a “business incubator”. In order to encourage local business development, states, counties, and municipalities have put in place a host of development agencies and local “incubator” support services to promote new business growth in their respective regions. There are actually over 1,400 of these organizations in North America, many accessible in your own local area of business.
When Johnny Miller, the professional golfer and popular television commentator, went on the PGA tour, his father counseled him to seek out the best at each facet of the game on the practice range and learn their secrets for success. This simple wisdom applies to any endeavor requiring skill – the only shortcut for experience is to find “mentors” willing to share their “secrets”, discovered after many years of trial and error. For early stage companies, there are many alternatives that must be considered in the early going and avoiding unproductive courses of action is crucial for success.
Incubation programs are not something new. They did not suddenly arise when the Internet shook the foundations for sound business practices. The “birth” of these specialty programs is generally attributed to New York when the first organization of its kind was formed in 1959. Creating new jobs by supporting new business ventures was the primary objective, and, when early gains materialized, the race was on for other government officials, in tandem with academic and local investor groups, to expand the concept across the nation.
The industry has grown with leaps and bounds, and the beneficiaries of this growth have been not only the new companies supported, but also the population at large in regions where new jobs were created. Even to this day, however, regardless of their success, there remains confusion on exactly what an incubator can be or offer. Here are a few clarifications for the uninitiated:
- Incubators are not restricted to technology companies. While this may be the case for 40% of participants, the remainder comprise a broad spectrum of entities from nearly every business sector imaginable;
- Support can span a multitude of disciplines from sales and marketing advice to manufacturing process design, and even financial and human resource management if needed.
- Networking is another benefit that can aid in accessing funding resources or help with finding a business loan for bad credit;
Even if you do not need a business loan for bad credit, the benefits of a local incubator could be paramount for your startup enterprise. Satisfy local entry requirements to improve your odds for success!
Tom Cleveland is a writer for SmallBusinessLoansDirect.com. He has over 30 years of experience in executive management, corporate governance and business development. Tom served as CFO for various Visa International entities from 1980 until his retirement in 1999 and was instrumental in expanding the global reach of the Visa system. Tom’s writing on business issues has appeared in the NY Daily News and BusinessInsider among others.