Frequently Asked Questions
Can I keep my regular job while I'm starting
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Can I keep my regular job while I'm starting a business in an incubator program? Yes. Most business incubators have the flexibility to accommodate those early development stage entrepreneurs who must maintain employment while getting a business started. These incubators conduct advisory board presentations, mentoring and professional development sessions in the evenings. Any required workshops and seminars are held on weekends or at a time that doesn't conflict with a normal employment schedule.
I have some money with which to start a business and not very much. Can I still use a business incubator? Yes. There are business incubators, like those sponsored by Services Cooperative Association, where fees are sliding scale and adjustable for entrepreneurs with limited financial resources. The keyword is "some" money. Even the publicly funded incubators now require fees because the "give-away" programs produced very few successful businesses. An additional benefit of some incubator programs is that the majority of the fees are deferred until the business starts to generate revenues. These incubators are willing to "share the risk" with startup entrepreneurs so the only way the incubator makes a profit is by growing the client company. No growth, no profit. So, as you can imagine, these incubators are keenly focused on what it takes to grow a business.
I know I have to be in business for myself, yet I don't know what that business might be. Can an incubator still help me? Yes. The incubation industry has matured with methodologies to assist people in selecting a business that's right for them. Once the entrepreneur-to-be makes the decision to start a business, the incubator can be very beneficial in helping to identify the best fit for any personality type and skill level. For startup business owners with several ideas for a business, business incubators have procedures to assist in the selection of that business most advantageous to the new entrepreneur.
What happens in a business incubator when I decide to change my business type? Nothing. Typically, only one startup entrepreneur in three graduates an incubator program with the same industry in which the business was started. Since business incubators teach entrepreneurship, the other two-thirds of the business owners discover for themselves a more lucrative niche than the one they selected initially, which makes sense to everyone.
I want to have a home-based business and still use incubator development programs. Is that possible? Of course. Many startup entrepreneurs choose incubators to be in the company of other people during their early development stage because of the readily available information to be gained from those entrepreneurs with similar experiences and the positive environment within the incubator. However, other early stage business owners already have all the necessary self-motivation skills, an established market and a proven marketing strategy and choose to operate a home-based business because they enjoy its ultra casual nature, yet select a business incubator program because it provides a structured business development methodology they cannot create for themselves. Home-based entrepreneurs say they have the best of both worlds; the comfort of the home office and the interaction with the mentors, advisory board, professional development coaches and a highly valued second opinion for their business.
My business frequently has me on the road at unpredictable times. Can I still use a business incubator? Yes. A business incubator is a "best buy" for the early stage business owner that travels frequently. Through the Internet and video-conferencing, expert assistance from someone familiar with the entrepreneur and entrepreneur's business is only a mouse click away. A business incubator also provides the critical credibility lacking many startup business owners who travel: the fixed business address, the well-known organization in the community and the depth of expertise available with the advisory boards and mentors.
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