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"I find the column inspiring and helpful to me in running my own small business."
"'Ask the Small Business Professor' is a must read for small business owners looking for free expert business advice. Using a Q&A format, Bruce Freeman covers important small business topics weekly by bringing in recognized experts on subjects including accounting, legal issues, trademarks marketing and sales. Don't miss it!"
Incubators and Research Parks
Dear Professor Bruce:
I own a small technology business and have two people working with me. We have no space, limited resources and feel very isolated in terms of networking and building strategic partnerships. What do you recommend?
Startup companies seeking to expand beyond the home office have several options. Some technology companies will find a good fit in a larger office space, while other innovation-based entrepreneurs may choose to grow through incubator space. Incubators support the startup process by providing entrepreneurs with affordable rent space, management coaching, business networking and other specialized support services. Many universities operate business incubators. Still others choose to take advantage of research parks.
Research parks provide entrepreneurs with opportunities to work in partnership with other institutions, which gives smaller companies a chance to grow quickly. Examples include the Massachusetts Biotechnology Research Park, University of Arizona Science and Technology Park and North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park (RTP). The RTP, for example, encourages collaboration between North Carolina’s top research universities, growth industries and state and local governments. More than 130 companies in the RTP employ 37,600 workers in pharmaceuticals, information technology, nanotechnology and other innovation-based sectors. Among them are corporations such as IBM, GlaxoSmithKline and Biogen Idec, as well as smaller companies like AlphaVax, Mi-Co and Humacyte.
In addition to office space options, successful entrepreneurs need a collaborative business community to connect them to the right resources. The Research Triangle Regional Partnership (RTRP), for example, works with more than 80 other institutional partners from businesses, government, academia and nonprofit sectors to support its region. As one of RTRP’s non-profit partners, the RTP-based Council for Entrepreneurial Development (CED) provides programs and services in education, capital formation, mentoring and communications to support high-growth companies. Many of the startups in CED’s network face challenges in where and how to grow quickly.
According to CED President Monica Doss, “entrepreneurs should build a network in their community that embraces risk-taking. A vibrant network of entrepreneurs, investors and service professionals will help when you are seeking office space, growth capital or quality management”, Furthermore said Doss, “Entrepreneurs should use the network to increase their startup knowledge and build new relationships”.
Whether you’re growing your company in a garage, office complex, incubator or research park, you should surround yourself with experts who have “been in the trenches” and can mentor you along. Seek out trusted colleagues in your network who can provide honest feedback, and be nimble enough to change direction or seize opportunities as they come along.
For further information, contact the Center for Entrepreneurial Development at www.cednc.org.
In addition to office space options, successful entrepreneurs need a collaborative business community to connect them to the right resources.