The workspace is now set up with desks, computers, and a small business library. The center will need basic utilities and services. A short list for essentials to get the center going is phone, Internet, lights, and water.
For a phone line one should use Google Voice or Skype. This will allow the center to add and delete a phone number each time a business enters and leaves. The incubator and accelerator can do this at no cost. The center will not be a slave to a monthly phone bill. The incubator will have an attitude of not raising companies in a hostile environment that is clouded by unneeded bills.
One monthly bill is not a burden by itself. When one takes the attitude to buy everything on monthly payments, it eventually adds up. If there are 10 items that cost $100 per month then it will take $1000 every 30 days just to cover items that do little to create better companies. In reality, these bills actually take cash out of a new company’s ability to expand, grow, and hire.
For Internet and utilities I suggest going to each local Internet provider and pitch them. Let them know the Internet will be used to create local jobs, allow people to take free online college courses, and grow small businesses. It will help the incubation center develop more local allies. They just might give the center complimentary service. Keep the possibility of naming the computer lab, library, or reception after the individual or business that provides Internet service at a free or discounted rate.
For electric and water it would not hurt to ask these questions as well. Typically these types of utilities have very little wiggle room. Just chalk this expense up as a necessity it will take to be successful and move along. Do not miss the opportunity to talk to the head of the electric company and water utility. Utility companies are usually very excited to have new businesses created in their area. Commercial customers make up a large percentage of their sales. The center just might walk away with free electric and water too. If not, at least the center has some more people in the community on board with the incubator and accelerator.
I have mentioned not wanting to be a charity and asking for handouts. It probably seems to this point I have recommended asking for freebies at every point along the way. My main point is to help a new incubator and accelerator save money so the center can pour more time, energy, and funds into young companies.
Secondly, I want to begin spreading the word about the amazing vision for creating jobs and helping young entrepreneurs throughout the Business Broken Community. I will talk to 12 people while trying to earn discounts and special treatment. At least 10 of them will be in my corner. The other 2 will probably have a neighbor, grandson, niece, or aunt they send to the incubator and accelerator to start their own venture.
Most of the people one speaks to while asking for the best price have been entrepreneurs before. If they cannot afford to give desks or chairs they may be willing to mentor, speak, or volunteer at the incubator and accelerator in the near future.
If someone has more money than they know what to do with, it is ok to pay retail price for all the startup equipment, utilities, and services. Most of us do not, but some people do. The real key is building a network throughout a community and being comfortable presenting the idea. See which ideas make people’s eyes light up, and what statements make people anxious or uneasy. This way one knows the best way to sell the incubator and accelerator before the first new business ever moves into the center.