Your new manufacturing business is off to a strong start thanks in part to the business incubation program you joined. But you can’t stay there forever, so you need to start thinking and planning ahead NOW for your company’s eventual departure from the program and move to a new home.
- The incubator is not your permanent home – All incubator programs should tell companies this on the way in, so don’t be surprised when they tell you it’s time to graduate and move on. The program’s mission is to help new businesses start, grow them, and graduate them so that they can do it again with another company.
- Start thinking about what’s next sooner rather than later – It takes a lot of capital, time, and coordination to move a company, especially a manufacturing company, so it’s best to start planning for it in advance. Think about the space needs that are going to carry you through the next 7-10 years of the company’s life. What do you need in a new location? Is there an opportunity to create efficiencies in your current processes as you move? Is now the time to buy more or different equipment for your new space?
- Act like a big company – If the company is close to or exceeding $2 million in revenues by the time graduation comes, it’s time to start automating processes. Think about using a formal CRM or ERP system to standardize and streamline business processes. Using spreadsheets and word processing documents to manage your business won’t cut it anymore.
- Work with the incubator as you graduate – They are committed to keeping you in the region, utilize their connections and resources as you prepare for graduation. Graduation is just another stage in the life of the company, but it should not mean the end of the relationship between the company and the incubator.