From the idea of having a space for new businesses to start from with cheap rent, to supplying them with core services, then to a place where businesses go to learn, think and explore or a virtual space where people operate in their own space (physical, emotional and mental) and finally a business accelerator bringing together the right resources (in any form) to move a business idea forward a form of “business ambassador”. So what’s the advantage or benefit of having a business incubator?
When I started in business there was no internet and I craved to have others buzzing about me working, so the first notion of an Incubator would have done me fine, but then I would have quickly loved to have been part of a ‘brain space’ to develop and explore business concepts and modes of working.
The latter form of Incubator I think is basically a forum and a website where people can interact and explore. I tried that I spent more time online than I did getting work done, I got busy and the business went west…
The final form would have been a great testing ground for ideas on business for me, and probably would have shown me why not to go into the businesses I was thinking of and explore other ideas.
I saw some research years ago which indicated a privately run incubator seemed to have more success (time in the marketplace) than Incubators run by councils or other forms of government.
So much for the format of the Incubator, some research and my thoughts, so why have an Incubator in the first place?
- To give people a supported starting point (admin services, cost effective rent, meeting space/s)
- To ensure people can get higher levels of support if they need it (Mentors, training, seminars and workshops)
- To allow people to build a network of people in business, share their ups and downs and see how things progress (or not)
- To feel part of their local community and not just work in isolation
- To have a physical presence in the community, a place to call home free from domestic distractions if they were to work from home
- Have an easy way to get things started then build and or dissolve as the need arises
- If the business is in the planning phase and will move to a retail space for instance having a short term place to be could be useful for planning and development
- If the business idea needs to evolve quickly having some form of Mentoring and or coaching, perhaps via a business ambassadorship program might be very useful
- Utilise collective intelligence (many minds can make light work) and collective work environments (one meeting room for a bunch of businesses) makes sense
- Feel a sense of belonging and support, a sense of community if you like
A few years back people would have said having access to high speed internet and office resources such as copiers would have been a key point, these days technology and the ability to have a highly functioning home office negate these. Seemingly it’s the ability to have access to the right information, resources and business thinking coupled with more of the right networks to operate in that can make a difference.
I guess most of these points could be done online (think ‘Linked In’ as a business space to get and keep connected) but with so much information online when would a person get work done? Having a collection of the right resources to minimize the startup learning and development process could be very useful for a person getting ready to get started in business and even those wanting to go to new levels of business development. The more I look at it the more I think the term “Think-u-bator” makes more sense than Incubator.
If people are savvy at Internet searching and highly focussed they can find lots of the right information to assist them in business, sites like Free Business Tips with hundreds of practical ‘how to’ starting points on many topics of business interest.
I guess the Incubator could offer so much more than just a search and retrieve library, but moreover it could provide ‘corporate intellectual capital’ where the information in heads is hard to catch online, but having a groups of others to bounce ideas off would be very useful.
Whichever way I look at it I see a very useful device to assist people starting out, those who have moved into the area and those who need more than a home office, even those who want to utilise the training and development resources it might offer. Let’s hope we can see more than a few Incubators becoming highly successful support and springboard services for businesses new and old.