Getting to stage 2

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:28 pm

If you’re considering starting a small business, you’ll want to learn more about the expanded services offered by the Professional Dimensions Women’s Business Incubator at the YWCA in Milwaukee.
The incubator is now providing second-stage business development space for small companies that have "graduated" from their initial incubation phase.
The incubator, which was Wisconsin’s first high-tech empowerment center, has been serving business owners for more than eight years.
The center has laid the foundation for the growth for several women- and minority-owned businesses including: Elderidge Ryan Management Services owned by Dana Phillips; Visions Mortgage owned by Steven Tipton; Hartland Information Research owned by Don and Kate Hill; and TMI Consulting owned by Thomasina Ivy.
In February 2003, Joe Price, president of Indoff, a minority-authorized dealer of office equipment, moved his startup business to the incubator.
"I needed immediate space, and I wasn’t able to go out and invest in a large office environment," Price said. "The incubator enabled me to work in a business environment. It was a way to get my feet wet while starting out on my own."
As his startup business grew to more than $300,000 in sales last year, Price says the incubator is a better alternative to working at home.
"Working out of my home, there would be too many distractions," he said. "I need to be in a business-type environment to drive me. There’s no comparison.
"I like the accessibility of everything," Price said. "You have the same benefits as you would working in a regular office environment. It’s a group of diverse businesses where everyone gets along and tries to help one another. I can’t knock the expense part. It’s what I need to grow to another dimension as a starter business."
The challenge is after three years, when the businesses are encouraged to graduate from the program and must seek office space in the business community at market rates. For a small startup business, that means dramatically increased overhead costs. And as a young business, some companies simply cannot afford the increase. As a result, they may choose to move their offices home or simply shut the doors.
The first stage incubator provides one private office facility to women or minority-owned small business startups at 1915 N. Martin Luther King Drive. In addition, the program provides shared resources such as high-speed (T1) Internet access, an information technology department, shared conference rooms, a printer, a fax machine, a copy machine and cleaning services. All of the support is offered at very cost-effective rates.
"The benefit of business incubation, from the entrepreneur’s perspective, is having below-market rate lease space," said Thalia Mendes, director of business incubation and education initiatives at the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative (WWBIC). "The impact or result of a successful incubation program is, unlike in the real world, four out of five (startup) businesses will succeed."
In January, the YWCA expanded the program to include a second-stage incubator, in which companies that graduate or outgrow the first stage of their development can expand their square footage, set up a network for multiple employees, rent computer hardware, rent a phone system and share cleaning services at a competitive, near-market rate.
"We’ve been talking about expanding the incubator for quite some time," said Keith Garland, vice president of workforce development at the YWCA. "But it was really our first-stage customer’s demand and the available space that allowed us to establish the second stage incubator."
"All businesses should strive to get bigger," Garland said. "Our objective is to take all the small businesses, help them grow, hire people and contribute to the community."
If you own a small startup business or are considering opening one, you may be eligible to house your offices in the Professional Dimensions Women’s Business Incubator at the YWCA.
To learn more about the incubator, contact Keith Garland at (414) 374-1800.
KeleMarie Lyons is the founder of Pinnacle XL, a management-consulting company with offices in Milwaukee and Chicago. She can be reached via e-mail at

May 28, 2004 Small Business Times, Milwaukee, WI

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