Small business accounts for approximately 99% of the employers in the United States and represents 98.3% of all employers in Michigan. Given this relevant statistic, it is no wonder that business incubation has increased more than five-fold in our country in the past decade. Incubation provides an entrepreneurial ecosystem in which to support small businesses. If run well, incubators are effective in helping to accelerate the pace of small businesses in our country as well as across the globe.
I have been in business incubation for close to 15 years, which is a fairly long time in this relatively new industry (in 1980 there were only 12 incubators in the United States). When I started in New Hampshire in 1997, there were no incubators in New Hampshire and less than 200 incubators in our country. Today there are over 1,100 incubators in the country and counting. Yes, I was the brunt of many egg & chick jokes.
How did I end up in business incubation? Although my career “hatched” in New Hampshire, my love and passion for small business was “incubated” in New Jersey where I was born and bred. Back when I was in fifth grade, my father made the decision to leave Wall Street to start his own retail business, the Sport Spot, a sporting goods store with a major focus on down-hill skiing. Yes, N.J. had skiing and was only a 4.5 hour drive to some of New England’s finest.