Starting a business is an incredibly daunting task, and the list of resources available to help you succeed only grows longer each day. From accelerators and incubators to laboratories and angel investors, there is a variety of sources of support available to today’s entrepreneurs, each with its own benefits and drawbacks.
Accelerators are programs that help early-stage startups gain critical traction in the market by providing them with funding, mentorship and other resources. An accelerator typically provides teams with seed money, office space, mentorship from successful entrepreneurs and networking opportunities to help their companies grow and become competitive. While accelerator programs are a great way for startup founders to get the resources and tools they need to get their companies off the ground, they are not always a good fit for every company. In most cases, founders are selected for the accelerator program based on their idea or product rather than their experience or qualifications as an entrepreneur. As a result, many accelerator programs do not provide the same level of support to inexperienced founders that more experienced entrepreneurs would expect. Moreover, many accelerators require that their teams relocate to the accelerator’s headquarters for the duration of the program, which can prove challenging for many entrepreneurs who already have full-time jobs and families to support. Finally, the process of applying to an accelerator can be time-consuming and even intimidating for first-time entrepreneurs with little or no business experience.
Incubators provide funding and support for startups at a much earlier stage than accelerators do. They generally target companies that are in the concept stage and provide them with resources such as office space, mentoring and networking opportunities to help them develop their products and gain exposure in the marketplace. Unlike accelerators, which are generally designed for established companies with viable business plans and strong management teams, incubators are typically designed to support early-stage startups and help them develop their ideas and products before they can join the market on their own.
Laboratory services provide businesses with a testing and development facility where they can conduct research and develop new products. Many laboratories offer a range of services that can help businesses bring their ideas to market faster and more efficiently, including prototyping, production testing, customized engineering and support services, quality assurance, industrial design assistance, packaging design assistance, market research and much more. Many businesses choose to work with laboratories because they can provide expert advice and services to help them identify problems and develop practical solutions quickly and efficiently.
An angel investor is an individual or business that provides startup companies with the funding they need to expand their operations and grow their businesses. Angel investors typically invest their own money in exchange for a stake in the company or a portion of the profits they make once the company begins generating revenue. Angel investors come in many different shapes and sizes, and they often have eclectic investment criteria and goals. Some individuals prefer to back companies that match their personal and professional interests and that offer the potential for high returns, while others may be more interested in backing companies that will provide jobs or valuable products and services to consumers. Angel investors are often entrepreneurs themselves who have tried their hand at starting their own business and experienced the challenges involved in building a startup from the ground up. They understand the difficulties that new businesses face and can use their personal experience to guide other entrepreneurs toward success.
A venture capitalist provides startup companies with the funding they need to expand and grow their operations. Venture capitalists typically invest substantial amounts of money in promising young companies in exchange for a stake in the company or a share of the profits it makes once the company begins generating revenue. Depending on the type of venture capital firm and the strategy it uses to invest in new companies, a venture capitalist may have a wide range of goals when he or she makes an investment. Some may prefer the stability and potential profitability offered by established companies like Wal-Mart, while others are more interested in companies that are just starting operations and that offer the potential for significant future growth. Either way, venture capitalists are interested in investing in businesses that are most likely to succeed, so they generally look for companies that have a sound business plan and solid management team in place.
Mentors provide guidance and support to startup businesses to help them achieve success. Mentors may possess a variety of skills and expertise, but they generally offer their mentees guidance in areas such as leadership, strategic planning, salesmanship, operations management, and marketing. Their experience gives mentors a wealth of knowledge about the challenges often faced by young companies and helps them to share their insights with business owners who are just getting started. Entrepreneurs looking to grow their business can benefit greatly from the knowledge and experience of their mentors, so mentorship programs are a great way for new companies to gain the tools they need to succeed.
Like mentors, advisors can provide valuable support and guidance to startup businesses. Unlike mentors, however, advisors do not offer their aid for free. Instead, they usually charge an hourly rate or a flat fee for their services. Many businesses seek out the advice of an experienced business advisor to help guide them through the preliminary stages of their development and help them to identify potential obstacles and challenges that could prevent them from achieving their goals. Equitymatch.co provides advisory services to startups in setting up their pitch decks and business plans as well as helping to reach out to prospective investors.
Get all the help you need
With today’s business environment being as competitive as it is, new entrepreneurs need all the help they can get if they are to be successful in the business world. Startups should never hesitate to seek help wherever they can and should try to develop a network of helpful allies who can provide advice and resources whenever they are in need.