Business Incubators: Cultivating Dreams and Success
“You can see a vision in your head and then you’ve got to bring it to life.”
~ Anne Peterson, Chic Bridal Boutique
A businesses begins with an idea, an idea requiring passion, patience and dedication. But what exactly does it take to achieve success?
Business incubators act as water and sunshine in the startup phase, crafting and cultivating that “seed” into a business. They help new businesses establish themselves and reach their goals.
Business Owners Wear Many Hats
Anne Peterson has always had a passion for fashion. She opened the doors to Chic Bridal Boutique in 2008 at the start of the recession, which proved to be challenging. Getting the word out and the company recognized was also difficult.
“It was the worst possible time. But I knew that somebody is always going to get married,” she said.
Small business owners wear many different hats. Peterson handles finance, marketing, advertising, payroll, ordering and more.
Looking back, Peterson said guidance would have been helpful. She recommends aspiring businesses owners to job shadow and get a mentor.
“It would have been good to have some pointers, to have an incubator and somebody to throw some ideas off of, someone who knows what it’s like to start and own a business and what it takes to do that,” she said.
Incubators offer a vast array of services and resources to startup businesses.
Incubators Offer Services, Space to Startups
Incubators supply a new company with knowledge, shared resources and affordable services, including: office space, technology, internet access, financial and business management training, social media and marketing, strategic planning and other resources and services often at discounted prices. They also assist with networking and create connections to other useful entities.
Incubators lend a helping hand to any industry under the sun: retail, arts, media, foodstuff, manufacturing, product development, healthcare, technology and various other areas.
Incubators not only provide businesses with the tools they need to survive and thrive, but may also allow for the local economy to flourish. Supporting and watching local businesses succeed creates a sense of camaraderie, which benefits the community as a whole.
The Treasure Valley is home to numerous incubators, including: Watercooler, The Greenhouse, Nebula Shift, Small Business Administration, Idaho Small Business Development, TECenter, Trailhead, S.C.O.R.E. and Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce.
TechHelp is one of Boise’s many local incubators, specializing in manufacturing and product development.
“We help everybody who might have an idea scribbled on a napkin all the way to the ‘Simplots’ of the world,” said Bill Mullane, TechHelp’s marketing manager.
Mullane said the most common hurdles new businesses face are lack of time, money, expertise, knowledge and resources. He encourages new business owners to use all available resources. That is where business incubators come in to play.
“An incubator is a place where you can incubate and then give birth to your business or your idea,” Mulane said.
Rekluse is a motor sports company dedicated to creating innovative, high quality clutch products. Al Youngwerth, founder of Rekluse, reached out to TechHelp for developing his product. He utilized TechHelp’s new product development lab to help create his product. TechHelp provided further assistance through the Export Excellence program, which led to Rekluse receiving various awards for their exporting service.
Sean Brown, Rekluse’s research and development manager and former student engineer at TechHelp, said without TechHelp’s resources and services, the company may not exist today.
“If there’s something you’re passionate about and you have a good idea that you want to invest in, go for it,” Brown said. “I think Al and Rekluse provides an example of when those things come together, there’s a lot of possibilities and a lot of positive impacts that come from it.”
Melni Connectors specializes in electrical connector designs. Mark Melni, the founder, envisioned a special connector modeled after the Chinese Finger Trap and looked to TechHelp to create a prototype.
“Imagine for a moment what you can accomplish when you can see and touch your invention almost immediately,” Melni said.
Through their resources and expertise, he launched his product that became a success.
Incubators Assist Startup Businesses With Market Awareness
Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce plays a major role in networking and publicity.
“One of the things that the Chamber does when a new business is being established, is we want to get their name and picture out to the masses,” said Karena Boesel, vice president of membership.
The Chamber celebrates the arrival of new businesses by a hosting ribbon cutting ceremony. After that they are featured on as many platforms as possible to create visibility, such as through social media, the Chamber’s website and the Membership email and newsletter.
“(The goal is to) get it sunken into people’s skulls that this is a legitimate business,” Boesel said.
Partnerships Foster Success
Another key to success and visibility is networking and partnerships. The Chamber hosts different events where local business owners mingle with one another and build new relationships that may lead to potential business opportunities. They also hold meetings where business owners learn about various factors that may impact their company.
Caroline Merritt, the Chamber director of public relations, emphasized they benefit new businesses in two main ways: PR work, such as name recognition and ribbon cutting and education, training, networking and making contacts with other businesses who may be interested in doing business.
Boesel and Merritt said a good starting place for owning a business is S.C.O.R.E., a program operating under the Small Business Administration. They are a great resource for mentorship and advice. Merritt said they evaluate business and strategic plans and discuss different aspects of their business, such as startups and strategic planning, budget setting, workforce development and to anything in between.
“Tenacity captures the essence of a new business,” Boesel said. “I think a lot of people who start a new business think that they’re naturally just going to be rich and they won’t have to work as many hours. It takes a lot of hard work to start a small business.”
Business incubators are enthusiastic about nurturing a business that begins as a small seed, idea or passion. Incubators help turn dreams into reality by providing appropriate resources and counseling. With the right tools and resources and an excellent idea, businesses have all they need to achieve success.
“We want to make sure that the businesses that are started are successful. We are doing everything we possibly can to make them successful and grow here in the in Treasure Valley,” Boesel said.