How to Benefit from a Business Incubator

Resources to help you get your startup off the ground

Some incubators require owners to attend regular business management seminars.  Ashtae Products Inc., a haircare company in Greensboro, North Carolina, partners with North Carolina A&T University to operate the Business & Entrepreneurship Skills Training (BEST) Center, a local business incubator. Entrepreneurs affiliated with the BEST Center must take a nine-month course on business ownership, says Michael Woods, Ashtae CEO.  “Participants have to spend the time in the classroom to understand the financials.”

Network, network, network. Once accepted into a business incubator, entrepreneurs should take advantage of the networking opportunities they bring, including attending any sponsored seminars or lectures.

There are also informal ways to network.  Jackson says that the AACCCP’s incubator houses companies in diverse industries—from legal representation to event planning to trash hauling—and owners often meet with each other to discuss their business needs.  “Entrepreneurs can find new customers within the halls of their own incubator,” he says.

Leave the nest. If there is one disadvantage to incubators, it’s that their guidance doesn’t last forever, Mixon says. “The typical length of time for services is about five years,” she says. At the five year mark, start-ups should have had time to establish a solid sales history and a healthy balance sheet, and be ready to function without start-up assistance, says Mixon.  “Entrepreneurs have to make sure they’re constantly planning, so they’ll be ready to move on when the time is up.”

Resources

Cincinnati Business Incubator

Entrepreneurial Development CenterAfrican American Chamber of Commerce of Central Pennsylvania

National Urban League

North Carolina A&T Business and Entrepreneurship Skills Training Center

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