Tom Mancuso walks us through the multifaceted approach that is needed for successful business incubation programmes
Financial independence is a key to happiness. Lots of profitable businesses are needed to provide employment for the founders and their employees, who are the lifeblood of our local and global economies. Like the individuals that create them and drive them forward, these enterprises represent a kaleidoscope of innovation across all business segments, technologies and markets. In a world faced with countless human and geo-political challenges, how can our business incubators do a better job of facilitating the progress of this critically important entrepreneurial population?
New businesses come in all shapes, sizes and technologies. This diversity is then multiplied by the reality of their geography, where every community has a unique set of resources and challenges that shape the people and businesses that spring to life there. If we acknowledge that job creation is an ongoing effort that should evolve, over time, in response to the realities of its environment, the wisdom of developing locally focused entrepreneurial support programmes becomes clear. During our 58-year history of designing and operating a place-based business incubator and development programmes, we repeatedly see the value in constructing a plan that reflects that individual situation.
Our experience has shown us that it is important to be as inclusive as possible to the full diversity of entrepreneurial innovation available from artisan, mercantile, manufacturing, service, distribution and tech activities. No one knows the future, so who can predict with certainty which enterprises or fields of activity will flourish in any given place at any particular time? The establishment of mixed-use, technology-agnostic business centres has proven a useful, cost-effective way to embrace the possibilities.
Every business is important. In view of the fact that every venture, from the moment of its inception, is in some state of leaving (i.e. relocating, failing, consolidating or retiring), the work of encouraging job creation is never ending. Because it typically takes a few years to stabilise an incubation programme, it is critical, at the start, to research, recognise and respect the realities of human, financial, physical and geographic resources available to fuel entrepreneurial encouragement over the years. The active participation of appropriate local leaders is an important component of designing such a programme, which should then be able to operate and evolve for as long as the community continues to value it with their involvement and appropriate support.
By actively encouraging ‘creative collisions’ and partnering with appropriate technical, professional and educational resources, we have been able to maximise community opportunities in these facilities, while also managing to produce selfsustaining business incubator and development programmes that transcend the whims of political funding and trends. We do this by strategically designing staffing and systems that are then funded by revenue streams attached to value creating activities, shared assets, services and spaces that are matched to the unique situation of that particular place. Coworking space, shared commercial kitchen, makerspace, artisan and farmer’s markets are a sample of features that can be worked into an incubator programme to take advantage of local startup potential.
The involvement of positive community leadership with consistent commitment to entrepreneurial recruitment and development over a period of time, is a recipe for dependable advances toward the mission of job creation. We find mixed-use inclusive business centres, with proper management and margin awareness, customised to reflect the realities of their unique place-based location, provide an effective solution for communities of all sizes. The implementation of these nurturing facilities on a broader scale offers us an exciting opportunity to accelerate the spread of financial progress around the world and create a kaleidoscope of opportunity.
Tom Mancuso has lived his entire life in and around industrial and commercial incubator buildings. His experience in all facets of their existence is evident in his ability to understand the complex factors affecting their success. The history of the Mancuso Process demonstrates practical strategic solutions focused on client objectives for a variety of economic development situations. Tom's specialities include: business incubator development and operation; business and industry centre startup and operation; adaptive reuse of buildings; management of multi-tenant and mixed use properties; real estate brokerage of industrial, commercial and office properties.
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