Around the country politicians, industry leaders and small businesses have screamed their support for small business development centers and universities to get involved in creating business incubators that help build and sustain small business. The goal is admirable, small businesses stimulate economies and create more jobs. But there is an undercurrent of dissatisfaction amongst small business, what do we really need from business incubators?
More non-tech incubators
Technology dominates incubators and while the focus on tech has a great roll off effect on business, not everyone is a tech company and we still need advice. The complaint that I have heard the most is that many companies are not tech centered and they find that incubators are unwilling or unable to help them.
More specific advice
We need incubators that give us advice beyond the start-up phase and this service varies from center to center. Many organizations make it a point to funnel clients to advisors based on their respective industries, but again it is not a standard. It’s hard to take advice from someone who doesn’t understand or even know your industry. We don’t need generic advice. We also need advice beyond the start-up phase; we need to know what next?
How to run a business
Everyone offers advice on how to start a business, what we need to know is how to run a business. What are the things that typically hurt small business owners, where should we focus our expenses? How do we interpret P &L L’s and why are they important? What should we look for in a vendor agreement? What do we need an attorney for and what kind of taxes do we file?
Incubators are an amazing resource, but like all resources they are only as good as the feedback they get from us. We need a lot, why aren’t we asking for it?