Lots of resources are available to entrepreneurs, but they aren’t always easy to find. Luckily, there’s one resource that makes other resources readily available. Startup Incubators are organizations with the goal of supporting entrepreneurs and helping them grow their businesses. These organizations have extensive knowledge on the resources available to startups, and the connections to get the process started.
Quick note: You may hear people use the terms startup incubator and startup accelerator interchangeably, but they are actually different things. Startup accelerators are typically programs that businesses go through from start to finish to help them grow. Incubators on the other hand, act more like a home to businesses, helping them at every stage along the way.
So how do startup incubators help small businesses grow?
Flexible working environment
Many entrepreneurial ventures start in the simplest of ways. Bill Gates himself started Microsoft in his New Mexico garage. As ideas grow though, so does the space they occupy, and the right workspace can be hard to find. Startup incubators offer team workspaces that are flexible and affordable to small businesses. These workspaces often provide the opportunity to choose hours that work for your business at rates lower than traditional office space. Along with the resources of a fully serviced office (meeting spaces, wifi, and coffee of course), the kind of collaborative environment that incubators offer gives entrepreneurs plenty of additional benefits:
- Networking with other resident companies facilitates idea sharing and connection building
- Access to not only a desk, but an entire office including communal spaces and focus areas, allows for flexibility in your work day
- In-house events and marketing efforts offer opportunities for exposure
Guidance and mentoring
If you’re a small business owner, there’s a good chance it’s your first entrepreneurial venture. Even if it isn’t, there’s no entrepreneurial rulebook, and you’re going to run into things you haven’t experienced before. Incubators on the other hand, are far from inexperienced in the world of entrepreneurship. Having worked with businesses in a wide range of industries, incubators have the experience and knowledge to assist or direct startups towards the right resources for their given situation. In addition to on-the-spot help, many also offer various programming. IGNITE, for example, is partnered with CEED to offer free consultation sessions to resident companies.
The right connections
Startup incubators don’t only come equipped with the skills and know-how to guide entrepreneurs, but the connections to help their ideas really take off. Growing a small business requires a lot of hands, from funding partners, to third-party marketing, to legal services, and finding the right people to lend these hands can be a tough process. Entrepreneurs are busy enough – they shouldn’t have to spend hours trying to find the right help in areas they can’t handle themselves. Startup incubators have large networks of connections in any field a startup could need them in. Whether you’re in the process of first registering as a business or funding a major expansion, incubators can help you get in touch with the right people.
No matter who you are, startup incubators want to see you grow
Incubators are in the business of supporting businesses. Whether they operate as a nonprofit or look to invest in their startups, they all share the same top priority: growing and supporting local businesses. Just like there is no entrepreneurial rulebook, there is no start to finish process that incubators follow. They are equipped to help startups of any kind, in any stage of the game.
Want to learn more about how a startup incubator could help your business? Check out how IGNITE grows businesses in rural communities.
Want to read more articles on entrepreneurship and innovation? Check out the IGNITE blog.