Despite the rapid growth of business accelerators, small business owners are still reluctant to take advantage of these initiatives due to a lack of knowledge and understanding of how impactful the right guidance and support can be for their business.
Mags Ponnan, Head of Customer Value Propositions at First National Bank (FNB) Business, South Africa; says in order for a country to create jobs and maintain sustainable economic growth, support should be provided to SMEs that often face leadership, operational and strategic challenges.
“However, entrepreneurs that are eager to take their businesses to the next level should be cautious when enrolling in business accelerators as many of these programmes may be unique, sector specific and have different goals and objectives.”
Ponnan shares ten reasons why SMEs should consider joining business accelerators:
- Mentorship – being a good entrepreneur alone is not enough to successfully expand a business. Entrepreneurs need to acquire certain skills and attributes which accelerator programmes can offer through guidance from industry experts.
- Networking – entrepreneurs can network and connect with like-minded individuals who will add value to their businesses in the long-term.
- Case studies – instead of re-inventing the wheel and making costly mistakes, entrepreneurs have access to a database of case studies which analyse the behaviour and actions of entrepreneurs who have ‘walked the path’ before them.
- Potential investors – entrepreneurs get the opportunity to meet and market their businesses to potential investors. These opportunities would be more difficult to secure outside of an accelerator programme.
- Long-term growth – businesses are not only provided with the necessary resources and skills to expand, but the ability to maintain that growth.
- Fast-paced growth – accelerators programmes often run for a period of three to six months. During this short period, the business is prepared for accelerated growth.
- Leadership – this is one of the barriers to growing a business. Before joining accelerator programmes, most entrepreneurs are not aware of certain leadership traits and qualities that will be needed to scale their business
- Credibility – completing an accelerator programme with a reputable company prepares businesses for growth and strengthens their credentials in terms of the right business skills and acumen needed.
- Discipline – accelerator programmes help business owners to constantly be organised, structured and focused on the main goal of running and growing the business efficiently.
- Coping under pressure – the intense and fast-paced environment of accelerators helps entrepreneurs to be agile and think on their feet when dealing with a range of business problems.
“Every business can benefit from the valuable leadership, guidance and assistance offered by accelerator programmes. However, SMEs must answer three important questions before choosing an accelerator; will it help me to build the right relationships; does it have a proven track record in my sector and does it have a dedicated & experienced team committed to help my business grow and excel.”