Starting your journey as an entrepreneur, one often faces difficulties and thoughts about a lot of things. The words ‘entrepreneur’ and ‘entrepreneurship’ do sound amazing but to become a successful entrepreneur, it takes more than hard work. According to a recent study done by Inc. and National Business Incubation Association, almost 8 out of 10 businesses fail in the first 5 years of business. This certainly does not mean that one should not try to start a business or there is a higher probability of a business failing. The probability can be said to be 50 % that a business might fail but on the other hand 50 % it might become successful. I always read to look at the brighter side of things, but in reality it is not easy to do so. The reason behind this is people are scared which is rather normal but try to overcome the factor that you will fail. This is where business incubation comes into action.
Business incubation is not a new thing, but it has been around since 1950s providing SMEs the necessary support and advice. Business incubation, has been defined by the National Business Incubation Association (NBIA) defines it as 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. The definition indicates that an incubation center can be considered a catalyst in the process of starting a business and also making it sustainable.
The question of why to go to a business incubation center does come up when one is in the process of starting a business. A few reasons can be put forward to understand how an incubation center can help a startup with starting a business.
Mentorship and Training
The first most important factor to take your startup through the business incubation process is the mentorship and training you receive. Training includes aspects like business development, workforce development, legal aspects of a business guidance, marketing, etc. from experienced entrepreneurs, Professors and people from the industry. Aspiring entrepreneurs can also learn about possible problems that they can face because of cultural, legal and other aspects. Some incubation centers are providing training courses including one on one sessions to help the entrepreneurs build their startups into successful businesses.
Space is another very important feature that is provided by incubation centers. Considering the initial stages of starting a business, the entrepreneur might not have the necessary funds to rent a place in a commercial area. Some incubation centers tend to provide a spacing facility to the incubatees so they do not have to spend any/a lot of money on rent. In the spacing, traditional office requirements including a conference room, internet, a professional place, etc. to work are met and the incubatees can utilize these services. A few incubation centers charge for providing incubation space but it is much less than a normal office in a commercial area.
Help in funding
If an entrepreneur is starting a company for the first time, they might have troubles securing funding. The reason can be lack of information on how to approach investors or alternatively not sure what funding suits them. The incubation centers might be offering funding as an investor, but that might not be the case always. Sometimes incubation centers provide information on how can funding be obtained, or who can be a potential investor and also how to choose the best investor for the startup.
Networking in incubation is much more than just giving away business cards. Networking is a tool that can be used to solve complex problems. The reason I say this is, you (the entrepreneur) get to meet other new entrepreneurs, experienced entrepreneurs, experienced people from the industry and professors who tend to have a lot of knowledge. You can make friends and share the complications you are facing or help other entrepreneurs to help solve their problems. Networking also helps you in talent hunting for your startup and it also tends to keep you updated with the latest things going on in the market.
It is certainly not only about the advantages of an incubation center, but also the fact of the availability of an incubation center in your vicinity. In Pakistan, there are a few incubation centers including LUMS Center for Entrepreneurship, Technology Incubation Center (TIC) at NUST, Plan9 at PITB, SEED Incubation Centre, etc. currently operating and helping entrepreneurs to build a better Pakistan by developing the economy. I wish you all the best and great success for your entrepreneurial journey.