Hacking Startup Culture
The other day I got a phone call from a small business owner lamenting the lack of resources available to help them get started. I found this to be quite odd, especially since I had just finished looking at hundreds of small business incubators, meetups, advisers and clubs. The simple truth is there are so many small business resources available that finding useful ones becomes a job unto itself. Whats a small business owner to do? Getting involved in this Startup Culture can be pivotal for your new business in terms of support, advice and feedback– if you can make it work to your advantage. Hence we have this article on Hacking Startup Culture, or maximizing the small business resources available to you.
Focus on what type of resource your business needs.
Finding the Right Resource
The first step to Hacking Startup Culture is knowing the different types of business resources available. An Incubator typically has several small businesses under its metaphorical wing. Many have an almost school approach where businesses typically ‘enroll’, take ‘classes’ and ‘graduate’. Chambers of Commerce exist to help facilitate local business, but many offer help to upcoming small businesses. Meetups and Clubs typically offer meetings for people in an industry to discuss with other like-minded individuals. So what works best for you? Time to start asking some questions
What learning style works best for you and your business?
Questions You Should Be Asking:
- Does this pertain to my field? This is pretty straightforward. Figure out what incubators and programs match to your business. Many have a general focus, like WESST. Some tend more towards the STEM field while others are more art based. Here is a good website to help you get started.
- How much will this cost? There’s no such thing as a free lunch. Business experts want to get paid for their time and expertise. There will be a time or monetary cost associated with joining an incubator. Most have a fairly rigorous application process. Check their funding. Are they state funded, federally funded or privately funded? Most privately funded business incubators can offer greater assistance, albeit at a greater cost. Generally speaking, a privately funded business incubator will charge a monthly fee or take shares of your company. It really pays to check!
- Check their history. Feel free to contact past and present businesses involved with an incubator. Inquire about their experiences and see if it will be a good fit for you. Make sure the services they offer are actually provided. Is this incubator building successful businesses or simply talking about businesses?
- Try before you buy. Find several incubators or clubs and sit in on their meetings. Don’t talk- just listen. See if it is somewhere you can see your business thriving.
Does your business have a mentor?
I’m going to let you in on a horribly kept secret for Hacking Startup Culture. One of the best (and most often overlooked) pieces of advice I hear from entrepreneurs is: find a mentor.
Someone has been in your shoes before. Find a person in your field who is more established/ smarter/ richer and get to know them. Introduce yourself, most people love to talk about their business. Yes, it can be extremely intimidating. Yes, people can be rude or dismissive. But keep trying. Whether it’s setting yourself up with a mentor or just inviting someone out for coffee, you’d be surprised how useful picking someone’s brain can be!
Now, finding a mentor is not for everyone. More often than not, new businesses hesitate to really open up to others in the industry for fear of having their ideas stolen. Sadly, I do not have an easy solution for that. Be on your guard and remember that not everyone is going to be totally honest. If you are truly concerned about someone stealing your concepts but want a mentor, I would recommend you familiarize yourself with Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA).
Best of luck and feel free to contact us with any questions.
Law 4 Small Business. A little law now can save a lot later.