The Nussbaum Center for Entrepreneurship must be doing something right.
For one thing, the business incubator has been going strong for 19 years, one of the oldest among 1,500 similar establishments in North America.
Second, three businesses that started there – Kindermusik, Lomax Construction and APEX Analytix – each generate roughly $20 million a year.
The organization's role is similar to that of a teacher's, says Sam Funchess, president of the Nussbaum Center.
"They might not recognize the benefits today, but they come back later and say: 'You made a difference,'" Funchess reports.
The nonprofit agency focuses on three things to help businesses grow: inexpensive office space, building blocks for a strong foundation and strategic planning.
Several different companies now pay a fee to do their growing at Nussbaum, and they "run the gamut," from computer repair to pallet manufacturing, Funchess says.
"It's a very diverse crowd – age, sex, ethnicity, country of origin, you name it. That's one of the benefits."
Candidates for the program first go through a business-plan approval process. Once the plan is approved, they must show proof of business liability insurance, commit to producing a financial report on a quarterly basis and demonstrate the mindset of being willing to learn and become "engaged in the atmosphere," Funchess says.
What's the hardest obstacle for new businesses to overcome?
"The biggest challenge is different with everybody," Funchess says. Some people have great accounting skills but horrible marketing instincts. Or the opposite might be true.
One common denominator is a desire to learn more and improve their business.
"They don't understand the number of moving pieces to be an entrepreneur," Funchess adds.
That's why the Nussbaum Center is there to help.