Entrepreneurship – from ideas to reality
Entrepreneurship – from ideas to reality

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Entrepreneurship – from ideas to reality

3.3 Dilemma 3: finding support

Your idea may require you to take on premises and employees from the outset. However, for many small businesses and start-ups, their growth will be more gradual until they literally outgrow their own resources.

The entrepreneur community is known for the concept of ‘paying it forward’ – in other words, recognising the help, advice and support they have received personally, they are willing to provide the same for others. In this spirit, in the last ten to 15 years, a growing number of organisational opportunities have arisen for entrepreneurs and investors to step in to provide an infrastructure that brings together entrepreneurs in the early stages of their ventures, and start-ups, usually supported by a programme to help them grow. There are a variety of set-ups and models for these, including incubators, accelerators and co-working spaces.

Incubators, which are typically physical work spaces, may also provide training, mentors, access to commercial networks and equipment. They may be rent free, or charge rent or even a membership fee. Often they may have a particular sector focus (e.g. biotech). Many are aligned with universities or enterprise development agencies.

Accelerators are a slightly different concept that appeared more recently based on the original ‘Y Combinator’, which is a US-based programme that began in 2005 to support digital start-ups. This model has been replicated all over the world. In addition to the developmental support, accelerators are more focused on and involved with investment and the potential for high growth. For this reason they are more selective and they tend to bring start-ups on to the programme in cohorts, with the aim of developing their business plans, prototypes and pitch to investors. The programme may last anything between three and 12 months. The involvement of investors means that they will usually seek equity in these companies rather than requiring a fee. There may also be mentorship, training and even seed funding (the initial investment) to get the business up and running. Some provide physical workspace and others provide services only. Figure 3 shows the location of accelerators and incubators in the UK.

Described image
Figure 3 Location of accelerators and incubators in the UK

Co-working spaces are simply that. Beyond a place to work and be in contact with other companies or similar organisations (e.g. some are run as social enterprises) these provide access to networks, and sometimes events and other opportunities to participate in publicity events.

ENT_1

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371