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Telling our stories...

Once upon a time... Ah, I believe I have the reader's attention because we all like stories.

Once upon a time our Incubator was in the midst of a construction project, installing a state-of-the-art bio-science wet lab. We had ordered lots of specialised equipment. After a large shipment arrived one of our clients, a serial entrepreneur - who's working on his fourth start-up - stopped by my office and said, “You bought my cytometer”. I had no idea what he was referring to but I knew I had recently written a large cheque  for a piece of equipment called a flow cytometer that had arrived that morning.

“Yes, we bought a flow cytometer”.

“You bought my flow cytometer”, John replied. “I saw the manufacturer's name on the box.”

Then I realised what he was telling me. In his first business, launched in our incubator twelve years earlier, he had developed new flow cytometer technology. He successfully sold that device to a scientific equipment manufacturer. We had just purchased one of them and his invention, born in our Incubator had “come home to roost”.

John explained he had never seen a finished model and he could not wait to work with it. He will sign up for our new shared lab and use this piece of equipment extensively for testing and development in his current start-up. Excited about the turn of events, I wrote to the editor of the newspaper who immediately said he wanted to feature a story about the entrepreneur and our new Bio-Science lab. Our client was delighted.

What a wonderful circle.

This may not be a surprising tale for many of us who have been in the Incubation industry a long time, but it's a good one. Imagine if I had written to the newspaper editor and said, “We want to remind you that one of our clients invented something more than a decade ago.” Or, if I had written to the paper with the news: “Incubator client creates three new jobs.” Those are positive accomplishments indeed. They are things our stakeholders want to know. But they do not necessarily have memorable impact or create excitement about what's happening behind these walls.

Reporting our ‘Return on Investment’ to stakeholders is vitally important to our Incubators and our communities, so we gather job creation numbers, track client revenue and how much investment they've attracted, and more. But we must not forget to recognise and impart the powerful human interest stories we are surrounded by. We have to “connect the dots”.

Story telling is as old as humanity. It is the principal way history, culture and values have been passed down through lifetimes. People are naturally programmed to learn through stories. As we go about our business, helping our clients solve problems, managing our buildings, delivering services and keeping our stakeholders informed, let's seek out the unique and special occurrences that can be told and retold, beginning with the words: “Let me tell you our story...”

 

A recognised leader in Business Incubation and entrepreneurial development, Marie Longserre has been the President and CEO of the Santa Fe Business Incubator (SFBI) in Santa Fe, New Mexico USA since its inception in 1997. Marie was elected to the Board of the National Business Incubation Association for two terms and was Board Chair in 2012.
Published on 24-05-2013 20:53 by Mariel. 865 page views

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