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Working With A Business Incubator: 13 Important Things To Know

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A business incubator is a great resource for new businesses looking to expand and grow, as these programs offer valuable services that help startups get off the ground or gain traction.

However, while they are a excellent resource, there are important considerations to keep in mind. To help highlight some things to consider before joining a program, members of Forbes Business Council, below, shared 13 important things entrepreneurs should know about business incubator programs. Here are some things to remember:

1. They Will Not Network For You

You still have to get out there and put in the effort to make those connections yourself. Many times small and large companies will have seats or desks at an incubator. Go meet them. Knock on doors, introduce yourself and form connections that aren’t just a sales pitch, but be ready to pitch if necessary. – John MonarchShipChain

2. Understand The Benefits Before You Join

Understanding the benefits an incubator provides before joining is key to a successful relationship. Workspace, mentorship, workshops, admin support and possibly funding can all be part of an incubator. Not all are created equally, and can have a time commitment, be competitive to join and set schedules to participate. Find one that fits your culture, style and cost before making the leap. – Heather NewmanContent Panda/Creative Maven

3. You’ll Have To Answer To The Incubator On Everything

Better to look at some potential downsides. More incubators expect applicants to submit a whole business plan and reveal all related activities. They are more or less like a boss, to whom you should be answerable on steps and strategies, because they invest in your success. Research about mentors’ experience to choose the right organization. Study loan terms offered and the equity they take. – Kiara CancerExtraordinary Headhunters LLC

4. Review The Incubator’s Track Record

Before partnering with an incubator, you should look at the success of previous startups and if the companies are in the same industry as your business. If a business incubator has knowledge of the field you are in, they will be easier to work with and will have the right experience to grow your business. – Beth WorthyGMR Transcription Services, Inc

5. They’ll Provide Connections And Counseling

If funding is an important metric for success, incubators can help entrepreneurs connect with relevant seed and angel investors and venture capitalists. This is an important value-added service. Another important characteristic of incubators is to provide education for the entrepreneur on what is and isn’t fundable. Incubators must provide business counseling and management assistance. – David CreanObjective Capital Partners, LLC

6. Don’t Give Up Equity Too Soon

If you have a solid business plan, a truly unique product or service and some degree of proof-of-concept, the rest will follow. Giving up equity too soon can severely limit your ability to continue your course and to follow your dream. Those who understand your plan and your value proposition will want to play in your sandbox without requiring a piece of the pie too soon. – Paul WeberEAG Advertising & Marketing

7. You’re Joining A Large Support Network

The most important aspect of business incubators is the large support network you join and become part of. This involves mentors, investors and other entrepreneurs. Building a business is tough and other members of the network can become very valuable in helping you go through the business-building process easier. Life is so much nicer when there is someone out there who has got your back. – Mirjana PerkovicLookStyler

8. Choose Your Incubator Carefully

There are many benefits to entrepreneurs who are in their first startup because you can learn from luminary executives, test your business plan, and discuss the strategic plans for raising capital versus holding out as long as possible at a time before bringing in venture capital investments. This should be chosen carefully, as it is always good to be associated with a branded incubator program. – Abigail AboitizAdvanced Remote Monitoring / ARM LLC

9. You Can Avoid Common First-Time Entrepreneur Mistakes

We all learn better and faster when we are in a high-intensity peer-to-peer and peer-to-expert learning environment. As part of a business incubator, your learning curve increases exponentially and you avoid some of the most common mistakes made by first-time entrepreneurs. Business incubators like Y Combinator and others can accelerate your growth. – Syed GilaniSafr Technologies Inc.

10. You Can Get A Much-Needed Leg Up

The right incubator can provide that much-needed leg-up entrepreneurs need for a new business or project. It needs to be fit for your own purpose: You may need specific technical help on an issue or strategic help at a more macro level. It should also be right for both your industry and where you are on your own journey. Knowing your own gaps is the right starting place. – Naeem ArifNA Consulting

11. You’ll Become A Jack Of All Trades

The most important thing a business incubator does is that it makes you a jack of all trades. You learn a little about all the components of running your own business. By learning a little about everything, it really opens your eyes to what you don’t know. Before you learn a little about a subject matter, you don’t even understand what you don’t know. And ignorance is not bliss. – Peter VogelLeafwire

12. Incubator Results Vary

The world is awash with incubators for business, so know that not all are the same. Most will require you to pay a fee, and some ask you to give up a block of equity at a poor valuation. For most, this is the only way to get your idea rolling. Pick one with the most personalized attention given to you by a member like you. An incubator’s value is only as good as it helps propel your business. – Paul CardisThe Cardis Group

13. You Get Out Of It What You Put Into It

The most important thing is that you get what you need and want out of the experience. Most incubators are time-consuming and for you to get the best out of it, you need to put in the work. If your idea or commitment isn’t fully baked, then the proverbial “garbage in, garbage out” will be the case. Make sure you are focused and know what you want. – Aishetu Fatima DozieBossy Cosmetics Inc.

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