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Ask the experts: Resources are critical to success

By Virginia Bridges
vbridges@newsobserver.com

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It’s fashionable to be an entrepreneur these days, and related resources seem to be popping up almost daily, said Fred Hathaway, director of marketing and programs at EntreDot, a Cary firm that helps entrepreneurs launch and operate their businesses, and founder of Raleigh’s Hippotential, which provides workshops, retainer- and project-based consulting and interim management.

“One of the challenges founders face is sorting through the myriad of options, choosing how they are going to start their business, and with whose help,” Hathaway said.

Accelerators, incubators and co-working spaces provide different types of support, and young entrepreneurs should consider which option connects them with resources and mentors – especially those who have been successful running a startup.

Before signing with a space, entrepreneurs should verify that the place offers a curriculum with templates, instructional videos and corresponding workshops. They should also ask whether they can expect introductions to potential business partners, suppliers, co-founders and customers.

Those professional links are critical to new business success.

Accelerators are generally condensed into a three to four month program from which a startup graduates.

An incubator serves as a setting in which an external management team comes together to help develop an internally hatched idea.

A co-working space is simply a series of desks and offices where people work.

Networking at these venues can be a key benefit. Some facilities offer experienced, successful entrepreneurs as guest speakers, and others ask experts to hold office hours.

Statewide, university-based and local resources for starting a business are also available through places such as Business Link North Carolina and the Small Business Administration.

These resources provide information on jump-starting a business and improving business performance.

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