As an Administrator and one of the founding team members of the Business Support Center for Entrepreneurship and Small Business at Delaware Valley University, I can attest to the value of such a program and the experience has provided an extraordinary amount of value to each of the members as well as myself as an entrepreneur.
What is a Business Incubator or Support Center?
A business incubator can be described as an organization that is established to nurture new or young startups in its early months or years and a business support center can serve the same purpose and is often aimed at aiding existing businesses. Let’s consider some ways in which business incubators and support centers are able to aid businesses and help them to grow.
Many business incubators and support centers offer a variety of amenities including work space, meeting rooms and offices, internet, printing facilities, technical support, exclusive partnership services, opportunities for funding, networking events, seminars and more!
Similar to a program that the Central Bucks Chamber of Commerce has implemented, many business incubators or support centers offer entrepreneurial assistance programs where experts consult with resident members on areas of interest or concerns in their business (ex. Business planning, marketing, management, legal). Oftentimes these consultations are included in the general membership dues. Memberships to business incubators and support centers are designed with startups and small businesses in mind so most modern day facilities are affordable.
Even though most entrepreneurs constantly work with people through their businesses, entrepreneurship can be lonely and many entrepreneurs are misunderstood by the people around them. Working with a business incubator or support center will allow an entrepreneur to work with a diverse set of similarly-minded entrepreneurs. This will help to decrease their isolation and increase their confidence when speaking with other people about their business as well as create meaningful connections. As these meaningful connections are produced, they will come with a layer of accountability as each member will look to work alongside each other to build their businesses.
In addition, since some business incubators or support centers are managed by Universities or Colleges, they provide a talent pool of young professionals eager to gain relevant work experience through job shadows, internships or positions. This is ideal for young companies looking to scale and expand their team with young talent.
Every entrepreneur is concerned about productivity and efficiency. Business Incubators are organized in a way in which entrepreneurs can maximize their valuable time so that it can be spent on their building their business. The collaborative nature of many incubators with shared workspaces have helped many entrepreneurs by providing opportunities for them to work closely with other businesses and benefit from their creativity. Shared workspaces will continue to rise as the freelance economy continues to grow. In fact, the number of coworking spaces in 2016 has seen a growth of 700% since 2005 according to the NAIOP Research Foundation.
Since many entrepreneurs work on their businesses at their home, they lose a sense of work/life balance. Working at home can also be distracting as it can become easy to start working on unrelated tasks. Working at an incubator provides an entrepreneur with a work-oriented atmosphere.
Time & Money
Regarding the return on investment with an incubator program, it is quite clear that leveraging their resources, connections and member benefits are cost-effective. In comparison to renting a physical office, members benefit from not having to spend the time seeking out individual suppliers for utilities, office supplies and maintenance. As previously mentioned, membership rates for incubators are generally ideally priced for entrepreneurs on a budget.
In conclusion, with the changing landscape of the work world, it would be wise to consider commercializing your idea by leveraging the support and resources provided by a business incubator or support center.
Written by: Andrew C. Belton
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