Allentown Economic Development Corporation

Business Incubation 101 – Stage 2: Incubation: Expectations of day-to-day life

Your manufacturing company is up and running and you’ve been accepted into a local business incubation program, like Bridgeworks Enterprise Center in Allentown. That means the work is just beginning!

Here is what you need to know about what day-to-day life during the first few years of your new business will be like and what you need to do.

  • Incubation programs are not spaces with cheap rent – They should provide programming, resources, and connections that are driving your company to grow and become successful. Each one is different, therefore you cannot compare the rent rates dollar for dollar.
  • Take advantage of the resources – Most incubators offer mentors for its client companies, so utilize those connections for both advice and to expand your network. And since there’s going to be a big learning curve ahead, definitely plan to attend the education sessions since you can learn something new. Get a coach or mentor, whether it’s through the program or on your own. The most successful company CEOs have a coach or mentor that they rely upon for advice or to simply talk through challenges.
  • Sell, sell, and sell some more – Now that you’re paying rent, insurance, utilities, etc. you need to start the revenue engine because the money is draining out of the bank account at a rapid rate. The only thing that keeps your company afloat is by generating sales. Don’t be afraid to set aggressive targets. Sales growth of 10 or 20 percent is good for a mid- or large-sized company, but for a startup expect to aim for 50 to 100 percent sales growth or more for the first few years.
  • Go all in – It’s a scary thing to commit fully to launching a company. But if you’re trying to keep your full-time day job while starting your company, the startup is just going to tread water without making any big waves. When the founders are 100 percent focused on growing the company, big things happen because it’s a matter of life and death for the company.
  • Guard your cash with your life, but invest big – Operate as lean as you can to conserve cash. Be sure to reinvest at least some of your profits into the company. Set yourself up to be able to make a big investment into the company in order to take advantage of an opportunity that could have an exponential impact on sales. Start building relationships with banks and economic development lenders long before you need them.
  • Beware of the big deal – That six- or seven-figure deal with the big-box retailer may sound tempting on the surface, but pay attention to what’s really buried in the fine print of that agreement. Can you meet their delivery expectations? Who carries that inventory? What are the payment terms? What happens if there are problems with the product or service? Be sure to negotiate a fair deal for your company or you may just be setting yourself up for failure.
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