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According to the Small Business Administration, seven out of 10 startups last at least two years, but their survival rate falls to about half that after five years or more. Working to increase the odds of survival are business incubators, programs that provide resources, networking opportunities, and office space. To find a reputable incubator that can give your startup some tools for success, check out the following advice:
Verify your compatibility. Search for an incubator whose services are a match with your needs. For example, do you need Internet access, legal advice, marketing assistance, specialized facilities, or business plan development? Consider what types of businesses the incubator you’re considering assists and determine whether it can give your business the equipment and resources it needs.
Go to the source. Tour the program’s facility to see how much space is vacant for rent and what type of equipment is offered. Speak to the incubation manager and ask questions about the program’s success rate and services. Also, ask for a list of current tenants and interview them about their experience with your prospective incubator. If the incubator cannot offer what you are looking for, ask the manager to connect you with people in their network who might better meet your needs.
Location is key. Though affordable space to rent is vital, having easy access to resources and networking opportunities may outweigh the costs. Michael Woods is CEO of Ashtae Products, Inc., a haircare company in Greensboro, North Carolina that operates a business and entrepreneurship skills training center incubator with North Carolina A&T University. He explains, “Our business model is connected with an events center and other high-traffic service businesses, so [startups] can piggyback off of the foot traffic that comes through our facility. This lowers the high marketing costs that startups are faced with.”
Consider these organizations and Websites to help with your incubator search: