Carole White

Member Article

Incubate your business

Carole White of enterprise agency TEDCO offers her advice on finding incubator space.

Recent labour stats from the ONS revealed that 2.68 million people are now unemployed in the UK but more interestingly, the same statistics also revealed that 4.14 million people are now self-employed (freelance or contract workers, not Ltd companies), an increase of 8% since the start of the economic downturn in 2008.

TEDCO works with a growing number of such people considering self-employment and one of the first questions we are always asked is the practical one of where to locate my business?

Home businesses are growing at a phenomenal rate and are increasingly becoming more widely recognised as legitimate businesses. In the past, people running home based businesses often complained that people did not take them seriously, or that people presumed their home based operation was merely a temporary measure until their business could support the cost of workspace.

Things are definitely changing and there are certainly a growing number of successful home based businesses across our region gaining a reputation for the quality work they produce as opposed to their location.

That said, there are certain restrictions to being home based and despite increased recognition some home based businesses still find themselves unable to bid for certain contracts because they lack a professional office base.

This has led to an increase in demand for virtual offices – at the Quadrus Centre in Boldon we are at full capacity with demand for virtual offices, a marked increase from this time two years ago. A virtual office gives businesses access to an office postal address, a professional reception service, meeting and conference facilities without them having to be physically based in the building on a permanent basis.

They provide a great cost effective solution for some companies, but there are times when a more traditional office setting is far more appropriate.

Deciding to rent office space is a major decision for any small business, particularly a start-up enterprise, but can often accelerate growth plans.

Business incubators have been designed specifically to help start-up enterprises with plans for high growth. They provide flexible space and leases, access to general office facilities such as fax and copy machines, IT infrastructure and access to meeting rooms – anything a young business needs in this respect is taken care of so that entrepreneurs can focus solely on developing their business.

But the purpose of a business incubator is not to simply offer space but to help a small enterprise to grow. Businesses will come to the incubator with growth plans and ambitions and they will be helped through the development process every step of the way. Business support from Incubators is an invaluable resource for young enterprises, whether it’s helping them network, take on staff, expand to a larger office or even helping them find their own premises when they’re ready to move on.

The goal of business incubators is to increase the chance that a start-up will succeed and achieve growth and shorten the time and reduce the cost of establishing and growing its business. Currently, there are approximately 300 incubators in the UK, They support all sectors, including ICT, science, technology, creative industries, and social enterprises.

Most clients of business incubators are attracted by the ‘easy-in’ and ‘easy out’ terms, but once through the doors, it’s the access to business growth support that keeps them. Alongside this, the business incubator will help your business through tailored workshops and training, support in book- keeping and finance, assisting with tax returns and. Added to that is the advantage of flexible unit sizes so that they can fit to the needs of your business as it grows; you can start by renting a hot- desk (often by the hour) whilst you test your idea or take a small workshop or office unit for yourself to start growing in. As the demand for space for staff, equipment and stock grows, a business incubator can ‘flex’ with you, offering a range of unit sizes to meet the needs of innovative start-ups. The incubator process is a very viable route for new businesses to take in tough economic conditions as many start ups in incubations across the country have survived the recession thanks to the expert support from the teams at their work space, and those who have struggled haven’t had to worry about being trapped in long term leases thanks to the flexible terms offered by incubators.

If your business has scope for high growth an incubator can reflect your ambition – why not find out more and plan for your success?

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Carole White .

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