How to Choose an Incubator to Launch Your Business

Posted by Zachary Slobig

Let's say you've got this great idea for a business selling fermented tea, like the two ladies from Asheville, North Carolina, in the photo above. Maybe you know your oolong from your rooibos but you're not the best with Excel and your business plan isn't very developed. You might want to look around for a suitable small business incubator in your area. The New York Times has a handy four-part guide to figuring out the type of incubator that might be best for your needs. 

Today, there are about 1,200 business incubators in the United States. Most cater to a variety of businesses, according to Linda Knopp, director of policy analysis and research at the National Business Incubation Association.

Supporting such programs, most of which operate as nonprofits, has become a staple for many local governments and universities seeking to attract and retain entrepreneurial talent.   

There have also been profit-making programs like Idealab, a technology incubator started by the serial entrepreneur Bill Gross in 1996 in Pasadena, Calif. (CitySearch was an early success).

More recently, there has been a rise in so-called virtual incubators like Entrepreneur Commons and Open Coffee Club, which are really social networks that try to provide the mentoring and collaborative benefits of an incubator.
Check out the rest of Darren Dahl's guide and then get your entrepreneurial scheme in order.