Business Incubators 101

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When starting up a business, it can be challenging to be on the same level with competitors who have already established their niche in the market. One reason for this is that your resources are often spread thin and returns don’t start showing up immediately in terms of profit. This can make acquiring office space and required services necessary to successfully run your business very frustrating. You might also be short in terms of capital or maybe, you have hit a road block that can only be undone by an expert in your respective field. Such situations during the planning phase of your company, or even later, can be exasperating. If only there was a one-stop shop for all these potential headaches right? Well, there actually is – and it goes by the name of business incubator.

What Exactly Is a Business Incubator?

A business incubator is an organization that is dedicated to helping speed up the development and success of a startup business or a company in its early stages. Business incubators provide a range of different services and resources such as physical office space, business training, mentorship programs, networking connections, brand building, project management and investments in terms of capital. Resources and services offered by a business incubator organization depend on their targeted audience such as IT, law or medical startups.

Business incubators can be an advantage in terms of funding because these organizations often have agreements with angel investors, economic-development coalitions, state governments or other forms of investors. This can make access to capital much easier and faster to acquire. You should also note that because there is an investment, the success rate of your business is likely to increase because the investor will in most cases lend a helping hand. How would they get their investment back unless you succeed?

If you’re lucky enough and have a tone of capital that allows for you to reserve office space independently, you might want to slow down and think about all the work that will be involved; looking for the office space itself, getting internet connectivity, buying furniture, interior design of the office, connecting phone cables, acquiring an office phone line, securing the office space from intruders, hiring a cleaning crew, paying bills on time and so on. The list is quite long and this is just the initial stages. You will still have to deal with issues such as business roadblocks and networking issues in the future. So why go through the hassle when you could use this time focusing on more important things like the growth of your business?

How to Locate a Business Incubator

While business incubators are not hard to come across, it can be taxing to find one that fits perfectly. The National Business Incubation Association (NBIA) provides a way to search for incubators in over 60 countries. The association has over 2100 members with about 25% of the membership being non United States members. Here is a link to their website: http://www.nbia.org.

You could also visit your local Small Business Association (SBA) office for a more refined search. Look up your nearest SBA office here: https://www.sba.gov/about-sba/sba_locations. Communicating with public institutions including universities or well-known private companies that provide these services may also prove to be beneficial.

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