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Summary

It's the name of the game – juggling client services, fundraising and facilities. Although tough, there are ways to reduce the burden and allow incubator managers to focus on helping clients to grow successful businesses. Incubator managers share their experiences in making it work.

Advice from the trenches: How incubator managers balance serving client companies, program fundraising and facility management

by Bridget Lair

October/November 2012

For incubation programs to successfully help entrepreneurs create jobs and community wealth, they need to provide the educational, capital and networking resources that entrepreneurs need. And to do that effectively, managers must prioritize client needs while supporting a business model that keeps the incubator lights on and water running.

Many demands are unavoidable, but the right strategies can help managers focus their time on the most important aspect of their job – helping client companies grow. “Facility management and fundraising are necessary activities for most business incubation programs,” says Tracy Kitts, NBIA acting CEO. “Programs can struggle with maintaining adequate client services if managing the building and raising money eat up all of their time.”

Twenty-four years ago, Charlie D’Agostino, executive director of the Louisiana Business & Technology Center in Baton Rouge, La., learned quickly how to strategically manage his time and delegate. “In 1988, I was given two years to have the incubator self-funded and self-sufficient,” D’Agostino says. “I had to set serious priorities and manage my time effectively. The critical priorities required my personal time and efforts, and other tasks could be delegated.” Since then, LBTC has developed a staff of 10, and its programs have helped thousands.

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Keywords: self-sustainability, best practices, client services– general, facility management, financial management

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