Embrace Technology and Innovation
Technology Tools • Incubators • Tech Transfer • Licensing
Successful entrepreneurs are innovators. They embrace technology and they think “outside the box” for new and unusual ways to grow their businesses and bring new products to market. Lucky for you, many of the tools, processes and programs used by innovative entrepreneurs to launch and nurture businesses worldwide are readily available in Florida.
If you want to be a player in today’s fast-paced business environment, you can’t neglect technology, but you can avoid becoming a slave to it. The latest digital devices may well position your firm on the cutting edge, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Just know how easily that edge becomes a slippery slope when you neglect basic business economics in favor of bells and whistles. By all means, adopt technologies that will help you connect easily and more effectively with customers/clients; just don’t let those technologies take the place of old-fashioned intuition and firsthand experience.
Software options in the following business management categories can streamline your day-to-day business operations:
Accounting Even if you employ an in-house bookkeeper or accountant on retainer, you should be able to easily create and access financial records for your firm. A computerized business bookkeeping system such as QuickBooks Online or Wave allows you to design and maintain a budget, view profits and losses at a glance and regularly monitor cash flow.
Planning You can’t do business without a calendar. Many online planning systems are available to help you keep track of important dates and events. Find a system that meets your particular needs, then stick with it.
Time Tracking Software A time tracking program can help you increase efficiency and profits by determining which tasks are cost effective and eliminating or outsourcing those that are not.
Email Management If you are currently using several email accounts to manage various aspects of your company, consider email management software that will allow you to merge separate accounts into one.
Project Management Web-based project management tools such as Basecamp, Asana and Zoho can help you and your entire team — employees and independent contractors alike — stay on top of projects and meet deadlines.
Mobile Internet Access If you haven’t yet linked your mobile device to the internet, why not? Doing so will ensure that you are readily accessible and can easily respond to emails when you are away from your desk.
The International Business Innovation Association defines business incubators as entities that nurture the development of entrepreneurial companies, helping them survive and grow during the startup period when new businesses are most vulnerable. Incubators may offer office or manufacturing space at below-market rates and staffs to provide mentoring and expertise in developing business and marketing plans. Some incubators offer assistance with funding, but that is the exception rather than the rule.
Most incubators are attached to universities, but they also may be sponsored by economic development organizations or government entities; only about 4% of incubators in North America are operated as for-profit enterprises. Companies typically spend two years in a business incubator where they share telephone, secretarial services and production equipment expenses with other startup companies.
The process for joining an incubator varies. Most require a formal application and an appearance before a selection committee.
Not all business incubators are alike, so try to find one that best matches your firm’s special requirements. A list of Florida-based incubators and their web addresses can be found here. To search more widely, visit the International Business Innovation Association’s website at www.inbia.org.