Innovative Support to Scale up Businesses | Article – HSBC VisionGo
New business support models will play a vital role in post-COVID-19 business recovery
COVID-19 has put extreme pressure on smaller businesses, many of which have had to close their doors as a result. Others have experienced extremely rapid growth. Many support networks have found their members and alumni looking to them for support, not to grow but to survive.
A number of incubators and accelerators have activated their members and former members to work together for mutual support and to find innovative solutions to a range of issues thrown up by the crisis. In this crisis, the tool sets developed by the incubators and accelerators have proved very adaptable: existing businesses may have been forced into start-up, or rather ‘start-anew’ mode, looking for new business models that will enable them to find new markets or serve existing customers in different ways, while coping with pressures on supply chains, logistics and finance. Others will have had to cope with the consequences of explosive and unexpected growth putting a strain on all their systems.
Accelerators and incubators offer valuable support for entrepreneurs, whether launching new business ideas or scaling up for growth. There are some top-tips for the SMEs and start-ups looking to interact with accelerators and incubators.
Selecting a programme
UNDERSTAND YOUR NEEDS BEFORE APPLYING. It is essential to clearly define what are the needs that your company is willing to address: is it market access, investment, business knowledge, grant funding, partners.
USE INCUBATORS AND ACCELERATORS TO SUPPORT POST-COVID-19 RECOVERY. There is a growing number of support programmes rolled out by incubators and accelerators that are targeting small business recovery post- COVID-19.
Those programmes, leveraging on the existing support ecosystem, are targeting some specific areas, such as for example digitalisation and transformation of SME business models, access to new markets.
ASSESS VIRTUAL AND INTERNATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES. There is a growing number of acceleration and incubation programmes that are also offered for international candidates with a possibility to participate virtually. Some of those programmes can better address the needs of a particular business or sector, so exploring international and virtual landscape can bring fantastic growth opportunities.
Applying for a programme
PREPARE A COMPELLING FINANCIAL STORY. Preparing for acceleration or incubation process, it is important to put the business on a sound footing. Compelling financial story is a crucial element in a relationship with investors.
LEARN FROM THE APPLICATION PROCESS. Going through the application exercise can be very useful in understanding and organising ideas, even if the company is not accepted onto a programme.
While on the programme
SHARING AND LEARNING MIND-SET IS ESSENTIAL. If accepted onto a programme it is important to understand that one can get as much out of it as put in. Participants should be prepared to learn from, share and partner with other participants of the programme. Ambitions are important, open-minded approach will help maximising opportunities available on the programmes.
LEVERAGE ON THE BREADTH OF OPPORTUNITIES. Joining a programme, it is important to leverage on breadth of opportunities, funding should not be the only focus: networks and mentoring are just as important, if not more so. Getting the right mentor can be crucial. In addition to practical advice from people who have faced or who share similar challenges, there is an emotional element of support and validation that is invaluable to entrepreneurs and their teams.
After the programme
STAY CONNECTED. Many companies that “graduated” from accelerators and incubators stay connected to the community that brings further business opportunities.
GIVE BACK TO THE COMMUNITY. Returning as a mentor and giving back to the community of new comers can be a very rewarding experience, mentorship can help you learn from the experience of others.
Any incubator will be looking to set its entrepreneurs on a path which is both financially and socially responsible, pursuing not just growth but sustainability. The ecosystem mentality may have wider applications in promoting business resilience and sustainability more generally.
ACCA’s new report Space to Grow examines how new and emerging business support models are being used to allow more SMEs to achieve rapid growth, but also to support business recovery post Covid-19. The report is based on a number of case studies from around the world and provides practical insight to SMEs and accountants looking to interact with these support models. For more details, please refer to