There’s no question about it: Business incubators make all the difference for many startups. From low rent to educational opportunities and mentorship, the business incubator phenomenon is making business ownership possible for entrepreneurs who might otherwise never have been able to overcome the barriers to launch their ventures.
The great news for future entrepreneurs is that these days, business incubators are everywhere. Private incubators, government-funded and non-profit incubation facilities are popping up in nearly every city, offering a wide variety of services to businesses in the making.
The key to a successful startup isn’t quite as simple as being accepted, showing up and waiting for the profits to roll in, however. Not every incubated business lasts for the long term, but the better the experience is, the higher the chances for success become. Here are a few ways businesses can make the most out of their business incubator experience:
Know You’re Ready
Before you even walk in the door, it’s important to know that starting too early can mean distaster for your current idea, and even for future ventures.
“Some startups come into an incubator with an embryonic idea,” “If that idea doesn’t prove workable, they’ve squandered the opportunity to impress the funders that have relationships with that incubator.”
Do Your Incubator Homework
Not all incubators are equal in what they offer, the types of startups they serve or in quality. Getting into the wrong one could set you back. And nothing will say more about the success of an incubator than the success of its graduates.
“You can make sure that they are not outliers or special cases by speaking with other graduates and soliciting their feedback.”
Because mentorship can be such a crucial part of the incubation process, looking for a niche incubator could prove more relevant to your startup than a general business one.
“Just about every industry imaginable has a business incubator that focuses on helping startups succeed in their respective fields,” “It’s a competitive world out there. Don’t risk being underserved by a one-size-fits-all incubator.”
There will be programs to complete and benchmarks to hit for your business, but if you’re hidden in your cubicle the entire time focusing only on those goals, you’ll miss what is arguably the biggest benefit of the incubator environment: the people.
“Working alongside people who are also trying to build a business can be a huge advantage to incubator tenants,” “This gives them a group of peers who understand the challenges and can share good and bad. In the incubator environment, opportunities exist for beneficial exchanges of ideas and concepts.”
In addition to co-incubators, mentors are often available to help entrepreneurs. Creating a genuine relationship with these experts can deepen your learning experience with them during your time in an incubator, as well as secure a great resource for life.
How an entrepreneur approaches the incubator experience can speak volumes about how they’ll handle the adventure of business ownership. There’s no reason to do anything but give your all to a startup, and the same is true during the incubation period. No matter what kind of hurry you may be in to get out there in the “real” business world, getting the biggest boost possible from an incubator first will undoubtedly make the experience even better.