EFOC 2024: Scaling Your Business: Getting Into Accelerators, Incubators, And More   – Essence

Today at the SOKO MRKT stage founders Brittany Golden of IGL Nails, Casey Ariel Thobias of Blaze Group, and Shawntrell Smith of Nihya Sol discussed the kinds of incubator programs, boot camps, and accelerator programs that can benefit budding entrepreneurs, moderated by Arielle Brown.

These women’s tips on how to evaluate opportunities that you may come across were impactful to their own journeys. From funding, mentors, and more, learn what steps you can take to secure the future of your business, below. 

Seek Criticism 

While being told no after working hard on your applications for these programs can be disheartening, Blaze Group founder Thobias said that critique made her better. “Pushback makes you pivot, makes you stay on your toes,” she shared with the SOKO MRKT audience. Golden, IGL Nails founder, echoed Thobias saying she was seeking feedback while in the Target accelerator program. “I wanted to be in retail, and one of the things that was so good for us was getting feedback. I got feedback on my packaging. And basically, the feedback was, ‘This is cute, but no.’ But you need honest feedback. Sometimes, people don’t give you that because they’re scared they’re going to hurt your feelings, but you need that honest feedback so you can make changes and get to those goals that you want,” Golden explained.

Fishing Vs. Farming 

Sometimes when starting a business you want to achieve everything and be successful as quickly as possible but Thobias noted her fishing versus farming theory. “When you’re fishing and you start your business, you’re trying to put the meal on the table, but when you are farming, it’s for a harvest that lasts beyond your lifetime,” she said. “Every single accelerator that I’ve worked with, I’ve received relationships, mentors, financial blessings, perspective and insights and pushback,” she added. All those processes were slow and steady to ensure she and her company would succeed.

Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone 

Golden also made a point about accepting that you will be out of your comfort zone. Just as much as she was seeking criticism, it will come even when you’re not asking for it. Being able to listen intently and pivot to ensure you have a spot in these programs is crucial to your business’s growth. You have to have a good sense of self and brand identity, especially as a Black founder because these spaces are already limited with not many Black entrepreneurs in them as is. Remember that pushback or criticism isn’t personal, but rather a refinement to secure growth for your business. 

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