I would like to start by making a disclaimer that I am not having a shot at Startup Incubators as I think there is important place in our regional ecosystems for them. It is exciting to see the creative and innovative ideas that come out of this process from budding entrepreneurs. I also think it fantastic that all levels of Government supports them financially.
However, if you are serious about jobs growth, the development of new products and services, and the increase of revenues, profitability, and sustainability then Business Accelerators MUST be considered. As we are now slowly coming out of the pandemic I believe Biz Accelerators are critical to a quicker recovery.
Why Business Accelerators?
Most regional business owners have been successful in the past, but get stuck in a rut working in the business, and not on it. Business Accelerators gives them the opportunity to learn leading edge knowledge and skills, to instantly implement into their businesses, and start gaining solid results within the program itself and then a flow on effect going forward. Having been involved in developing and rolling out two Business Accelerator Programs over the past five years I have seen firsthand the amazing positive outcomes. The first is the, Cenwest Innovate Next Stage Growth Program through Charles Sturt University and funded by the NSW Government through the Boosting Business Program. The second is the, ‘Persuader’ Retail Business Accelerator program developed several years ago specifically to assist regional retailers and micro businesses. Lithgow City Council became the pilot for this program and it was successfully run for two years.
The major benefits of these Accelerators are:
Business owners in all cohorts bonded quickly. They were very willing to share their knowledge, experience, successes and challenges to help others with in the group. There was a good mixture of industries including construction, professional services, manufacturing, non-for-profits, and information technology. A solution experienced by one organization could solve a challenge in another from entirely different industry.
Innovative Problem Solving
The half day hackathons were a powerful way to capture 200 to 400 hundreds years of business experience and knowledge in one room. Many everyday issues were resolved, innovative new ideas, products, or services were produced and then analysed and reviewed with constructive feedback provided.
To witness the revitalization of tired business owners and seeing the sparkle back in their eyes after attending a couple of months of the program is priceless. Strategic plans they had been reluctant to move on were successfully activated and you could feel the entrepreneurial spirit grow and get them back on track to achieve their original goals.
Ability to Access Support
The majority of business owners had found it difficult to find trusted expertise to help them with growth or resolving challenges prior to the program. After completion of the program they now had access to expertise to assist in all areas of their business whether that be pricing, branding, or developing export markets. This made a huge difference to their self confidence to implement growth strategies with the result of increased revenues, profits, employment, and a positive mindset for continuous improvement and to embrace constant change.
Business accelerators dramatically improve the likelihood that an established regional organization will be successful and sustainable, and often this results in more jobs created locally.
Steve Semmens – The Persuader