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    13 Replies Latest reply on Nov 25, 2008 12:40 AM by Iwrite

    Business Incubators

    Iwrite Pioneer
      I was reading posts this Sunday morning and I realized that I have only heard one person mention "Business Incubators," and that was Lighthouse. There have been a grand total of three mentions of Business Incubators with little or no discussion as to what they are.

      Here is a definition:
      Business incubation is a business support process that accelerates the successful development of start-up and fledgling companies by providing entrepreneurs with an array of targeted resources and services. These services are usually developed or orchestrated by incubator management and offered both in the business incubator and through its network of contacts. A business incubator's main goal is to produce successful firms that will leave the program financially viable and freestanding.

      It got me to thinking:

      Why don't more businesses work with Incubators?

      Has anyone tried?

      If not, why not?

      Thoughts?
        • Re: Business Incubators
          Lighthouse24 Ranger

          My experience with business incubators has been as one those "targeted resources and services" providers you mentioned.

          Why don't more businesses work with incubators? The following might be some reasons:

          Incubator programs aren't available everywhere or for every type of business, so businesses in some regions and within some industries have never had a chance.

          Whether incubators are publically or privately funded, they generally have an economic growth and development agenda. For them, "success" means that the emerging business is able to provide an increasing number of secure good-paying jobs, create an expanding tax base, and improve the quality of life for a community at large. Business owners who have a similar focus tend to work well with incubators. Most small business owners don't have that outward vision, however. Most are on a mission to fulfill their own needs and wants (which is fine, but often incompatible with the incubator philosophy).

          The incubator environment is one where experienced people are protecting, guiding, teaching, and nurturing the fledgling new owner. The owner has to listen and learn -- and as we often see in THIS community, there are an astounding number of small business owners who simply refuse to listen and learn. Not only do they stubbornly insist on doing things their own way (even when it isn't working), they insult the very people who offer help. You can get away with that in the anonymity of a social network, but not face-to-face in a room filled of the most respected men and women in your community. Be obnoxious just once in that climate and you're done for.

          An incubator is a team -- and since we're in the heart of football season, I'll use a football metaphor. The business owner is the starting quarterback. He is going to get the glory for the wins and take the heat for the losses. He is the high-visibility big star, and one in charge on the field of play. Yet he has an offensive coordinator in the booth, a position coach on the sidelines, and an array of other behind-the-scenes personnel who have worked all week toward the same goal -- winning the game. Unfortunately, a lot of small business "quarterbacks" are lousy team players. They don't want to be a key part of a winning "system." They want to make up plays as they go, and be a 100 percent in charge of everything. So they are stuck playing the business equivalent of a pick-up game in the backyard.

            • Re: Business Incubators
              Iwrite Pioneer
              I would hope that this wasn't true but I have seen the type of behavior you described on this forum. But I brought it up because there are a group of us that meet the criteria you described. I thought bringing it up might shed some light for those who are in the position to take advantage of it but may not be aware of what Business Incubators offer.

              Thanks for the information and insight. I really hope some of us heard what you said and take it to heart. But from past behavior, I doubt it.
                • Re: Business Incubators
                  Iwrite Pioneer
                  FYI just because I marked this as answered doesn't mean the discussion is over. I think Lighthouse has brought up some serious issues we need to discuss.
                  • Re: Business Incubators
                    DomainDiva Ranger
                    I presented at a 'business incubator' in Richardson Texas. All they wanted was to sell me their legal and accounting services as well as technical services (code.design etc) IF they accepted my idea for 'incubation funds'. They also wanted some really detailed information without an NDA. What a waste of time and fuel.
                    1 of 1 people found this helpful
                      • Re: Business Incubators
                        Iwrite Pioneer
                        This is why I asked, I want as much information as possible.
                          • Re: Business Incubators
                            DomainDiva Ranger
                            Well if you want to 'incubate' then we need to get people together that HELP each other instead of making ridiculous demands. I would like to be a part of a group that helps, not a group that takes away. A group that met once a week to trade ideas and offer support as well as constructive criticism would be a wonderful thing. Count me in, just tell me where to be.
                            If I had taken the business incubators advice, I would have gotten rid of EVERYONE on my team and started over with their people. Sorry but I can't see a business incubator team like that being loyal to the business owner. I have a loyal team that has stuck with me through the complete insanity of this start up. When the going has gotten tough design and formula wise my team has risen above and beyond, again an incubator may not have the intestinal fortitude to stick it out when things do not go according to plan.
                            1 of 1 people found this helpful
                              • Re: Business Incubators
                                Iwrite Pioneer
                                Maybe we should!!! I was hoping this forum could be something like that but it has gone in a different direction. I agree that people who are only in it for the money are not as committed as folks who have a real vested interested. Building a good team is an art form.
                        • Re: Business Incubators
                          mccloudis Newbie
                          Interesting thread that does deserve additional discussion.
                          Here's a link for a local story (to me) regarding Business Incubators role during a recession...

                          http://memphis.bizjournals.com/memphis/othercities/birmingham/stories/2008/11/24/smallb1.html?b=1227502800^1736554&brthrs=1
                          As to your football metaphor - too many business owners not only demand to be the QB even though they can only throw the ball 5 yards - they also want to be the GM and hire players with hands like bricks, put their 150lb guys as linemen and their running backs and receivers run a 40 yard dash measured by the amount of meatball subs they can consume in the distance they run ... you've got a good comparison.

                          How good is your company defense (banks, line of credit, cash flow, etc..) how good is the offensive line that moves you forward (your customers) and how speedy are your position players; running backs, receivers (customer experiance, customer service) ...? How much strength do you draft or hire to be around you (including your coaches)?

                          I just joined a BI group near me after reading your thread ...... we'll see what they have to offer !
                          1 of 1 people found this helpful
                            • Re: Business Incubators
                              Iwrite Pioneer
                              Mccloudis,

                              I am having problems with the whole being in good shape thing. If I have everything in order why do I need a Business Incubator? It seems there is no one trying to help the businesses that need help. My turn for an analogy:

                              I mean that's like a college or university taking straight "A" students and making them honor students! They're already good. How hard was for the school to help them? The real test would be to take a "C" student and make him/her an honor student.

                              I know that each Business Incubator is going to be different. I'm just trying to get more information.
                                • Re: Business Incubators
                                  Lighthouse24 Ranger

                                  At the risk of "metaphor whiplash," let's head to the barnyard for sec . . .

                                  A mother hen sits on a clutch of eggs for three weeks, then hatches and raises her chicks, protects them, teaches them to find food, and hovers over them to keep them warm.

                                  Some hens have had that instinct to "go broody" bred out (in order to make them produce more eggs). When that's the case, if the desired goal is to end up with chicks rather than omelets, the eggs will have to go into an incubator.

                                  The straight "A" students in your analogy above already HAVE a mother hen (experienced management, adequate capital, etc.), and don't need an incubator -- so it IS the businesses that have straight "A" potential (but won't be able to make it at all on their own) that tend to do best in the incubator (as long as the egg doesn't start to believe it's the farmer).

                                  Of course, in this part of the country, if you have hens that are laying eggs, you'll also have snakes that are trying steal them -- literally, and metaphorical (as Diva noted).

                                    • Re: Business Incubators
                                      Iwrite Pioneer
                                      I see. My concern is that the incubators want to only work with those who already have it all together. I think this discussion is addressing some of my concerns and the fact that all incubators are not the same.

                                      What DomainDiva described did not sound like the Incubators described on the industry website. But there is good and bad in everything. The more we talk the clearer the picture becomes.

                                      Thanks all.
                              • Re: Business Incubators
                                golfheaven Adventurer
                                Interesting thread. I have been in negotiations with a sports academy and the discussions seem to be going in this direction some what. I have just sent a proposal in regards to revenue sharing to the owner and i am waiting on a reply. I was told that he would take me from entrepreneur to enterprise. If agreement is made i will inform community. I for see a few questions in the near future and will most likely will ask for your wisdom and experience.