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How Incubator Thinking Can Help Your Established Business

The Huffington Post logo The Huffington Post 19/02/2016 Shane Paul Neil

Growing a business can be challenging but over time, entrepreneurs stop focusing on growth. The end goal is to have a business that has a steady inflow of income, after all, and once a business achieves that, it may be tempting to work on maintenance rather than growth. But when you stagnate, you risk eventually losing the very customer base you've worked so hard to achieve.
But for established businesses, keeping up with day-to-day activities usually takes up every available resource. Setting time aside to rethink your approach or come up with new ideas can seem impossible. Instead, you jot down ideas as you rush from one meeting to the next, then toss them off to someone else to execute. As a result, your ideas never quite reach the level of innovation you see from the new startups that are revolutionizing your industry.
Some of these new startups get help from incubators, which accept a select number of promising startups and help them get started. While participating in an incubator, entrepreneurs come up with great ideas and make connections in the community that improve their chances of success. But you don't have to participate in an incubator to put its benefits to use in your business. Here are a few tips for making incubator thinking work for your established business.

Creativity Is a Task

One of the best things about incubators is that they prioritize creativity over all else. It becomes a part of participants' daily activities. For busy entrepreneurs, incubator thinking means setting time aside to come up with great ideas, even when time is in short supply. It means innovation becomes a top priority. When an entrepreneur uses incubator thinking, the end result is that the business is constantly evaluated for new, better ways to do things.

Creativity Needs Space

BCG Digital Ventures' new incubator will include a startup studio designed to give entrepreneurs the space they need to create. BCG realizes that entrepreneurs are artists at heart and as artists, they need the ideal space to create. A startup studio acts similarly to an artist's studio, with entrepreneurs sitting alone with just a computer, sketchpad, notepad, or whatever else they need to generate great ideas. Whether that space is as part of a formal incubator or in a small conference room in an office complex, an entrepreneur can benefit from finding a place to be alone and come up with ideas.
2016-02-18-1455770860-2121304-BCGDVTorqueEIRStudio.png © Provided by The Huffington Post 2016-02-18-1455770860-2121304-BCGDVTorqueEIRStudio.png Quiet Time Rejuvenates

There has been a great deal of publicity around the benefits of silence for health and productivity, but we still spend our days surrounded by noise. Incubators force entrepreneurs to spend time reflecting, which means making an effort to find quiet time each day. Whether an entrepreneur uses quiet time to come up with great ideas of to merely relax and reflect, quiet time can have a rejuvenating effect on an overworked, overstressed mind. Using incubator thinking, an entrepreneur could schedule that quiet time every day between meetings and calls.
Back to Basics Networking

Perhaps the most important thing many new startups get out of incubators is a connection. Incubators introduce these new entrepreneurs to peers, potential mentors, and possible investors. Established businesses may have some connections within their respective industries, but that doesn't mean the need to make new connections doesn't still exist. Business leaders in established companies can get these benefits by attending networking events and industry conferences, where they'll meet others in their industries that can help them move forward.
Continuing Education

Many new business owners turn to incubators as an opportunity to learn the ins and outs of forming and growing a startup. Established entrepreneurs lack access to this type of education, which is possibly one reason many are taking college courses on various topics related to business. If professionals are too busy to spend time on campus once a week, there are online opportunities such as HarvardX and MIT Sloan that can help entrepreneurs meet their continuing education goals.

Assignment Guidelines:Design a game based on the idea of training a dragon. Feel free to use dice, cards, coins,...

Posted by MIT OpenCourseWare on Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Entrepreneurs who own established businesses can still get the incubator experience without participating in one. By following some of the principals of incubators and continuing to learn and grow, entrepreneurs can make sure their businesses never stagnate. They'll also find themselves personally healthier and happier as they set time aside each day to reflect on their goals and come up with innovative ideas.

THINKING © caracterdesign via Getty Images THINKING

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