With a virtually endless amount of data available online today, surfing the web for assistance can quickly shift from helpful to overwhelming. This can certainly be the case when it comes to searching for help with starting or growing a business. As an existing or aspiring business owner, a great way to find the best resource(s) is to first ask yourself two questions:
- What stage of business am I in? (idea phase, research & development, already existing, etc.)
- What type of business is it/will it be? (local single location, high-growth technology, e-commerce, etc.)
Once the above questions have been answered, you can then determine which of the following three business resources may be the best fit for you: Small Business Development Center (SBDC), a Business Incubator, or a Business Accelerator.
SMALL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT CENTER (SBDC): The SBDC provides business consulting services through a partnership between the U.S. Small Business Administration and local universities all over the country. These offices offer consulting for free and more extensive training services at a low cost. Contact your local college/university or local Chamber of Commerce for more information.
Your business may be a good fit for the SBDC if you: Have an idea and need to start on a business plan from scratch, are interested in pursuing a small business loan from the SBA or another traditional lending institution; or have general questions regarding various aspects of running a small business (taxes, marketing, networking, etc.).
BUSINESS INCUBATOR: A business incubator is typically a co-working space that is designed to help very early stage companies transition from just an idea to being market and/or investment ready. Most incubators offer services such as office space at a reduced rate, mentoring and education programs, and technical assistance. Cohab in Shreveport, and LA Catalyst in Monroe are both local Business Incubators.
Your business may be a good fit for a Business Incubator if you: Need help with prototyping or proof of concept, want to finalize a business plan for execution or are interested in learning how to properly operate a business in order to achieve profitability.
BUSINESS ACCELERATOR: Business accelerators help advance the growth of existing companies or help market-ready companies effectively launch. They typically provide a wide array of services such as mentorship, financial modeling, investment pitch guidance, and funding opportunities. Once businesses have completed the accelerator process, they are then well-positioned to pitch their idea to investors. EAP is a local Business Accelerator.
Your business may be a good fit for a Business Accelerator if you: Are an existing or market-ready startup company that is scalable, investable, and fast-growing. Accelerators are typically compensated with a small portion of equity in the company, so only companies that meet these three criteria will be a good fit for this type of resource.
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