Running a startup means constantly adjusting and adapting as your business grows and changes. These agile, highly scalable businesses can be demanding ventures, with funding needs, operational decisions and culture changes all weighing on a founder's mind.
There are several different resources out there for startups. The best first step, however, is joining a community of entrepreneurs and like-minded startups. These communities can provide advice, support and even future career opportunities. Here are some great resources for your startup.
Accelerators cultivate startups. They provide resources, networking connections and business development opportunities to take an idea and make it into a successful business. Accelerators provide guidance by offering business structure to creative ideas. Famous companies such as Airbnb and Reddit all started out of accelerators.
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There is a wide range of accelerators throughout the country, all of which offer different services to businesses depending on their development stage. Some are ideal for very early-stage businesses, while others aim to provide the funding connections that can push a fully formed startup to success.
Accelerators usually take equity in a startup for their services. Famous accelerators include Y Combinator and Founders Space. However, most major cities have accelerator programs you can look into. Depending on your business's focus, you may want to consider accelerators in an area of the country where your business's industry is thriving.
2. Coworking spaces
Coworking spaces can provide networking and community-based resources for startups. As with accelerators, the key is to choose one where other startups or businesses within your industry are thriving. While you have to apply to accelerators, however, you can usually just join coworking spaces.
By moving out of an isolated office and into a community, you can network with other business owners and even potential mentors. As businesses come and go, you can keep an eye on talent you may want to one day bring on board. There are more than 4,500 coworking spaces in the U.S. While most are likely based in big cities, you should be able to find an industry-focused space where you can put down roots. Catapult Chicago, for example, is a coworking space geared specifically toward startups.
3. Business competitions
There are hundreds of business competitions throughout the U.S., and sometimes entering or winning one can jumpstart your business. As with coworking spaces, you can likely join a business competition so long as you're near a major city. For example, 43North is a business competition in Buffalo, New York, where startups compete for funding, mentorship and marketing exposure. The goal of some business competitions is to get startups into a city or state to help drive growth in the region. If you're running a startup and your industry has strong roots in another city, entering a business competition can help you establish a network in that place. Even if you don’t win, interacting with other entrepreneurs and learning more about a community is valuable experience.
4. Angel investors
Angel investors usually provide funding to early-stage startups. Traditional financing routes put angels before venture capitalists but after personal funding. Finding an angel investor can be difficult. Networking within your business community is usually a good first step, but there are some angel investing groups that you can pitch to for funding. Several of these groups are based in New York City, including New York Angels and 37 Angels.
5. Venture capitalists
If you're interested in forming a startup, you've probably heard of venture capitalists. These firms provide financing for startups in exchange for equity. They usually fund many startups at a time in the hopes that a few will take off and become the next Uber, Netflix or Airbnb. Silicon Valley is one of the most active VC areas in the country, but you can find other firms throughout the country.
Often, VC firms focus on a particular industry and develop connections. For instance, Camber Creek, a VC firm based in Washington, D.C., invests in real estate technology companies. As with most of the resources on this list, you'll usually have to start by looking at cities in your area.