Accelerator Cohort Program Overview

Leader > Team > Organization > Strategy

The Accelerator Cohort Program is based upon business development best practices and nearly four decades of work by the College of DuPage Center for Entrepreneurship. Move from being an operator of your business to being the CEO—take your business to the next leve. 

Move from working  in your business to working on your business!

Accelerator Cohort Program Details

Goals: Increase headcount, grow sales or new investments, decrease costs and improve profitability.



To participate in the Accelerator Program:

  • You must be a C-level leader: small business owner or small business co-owner
  • Business Criteria – 2+2+2:
    • In operation for at least two years
    • Revenues at least $200,000 in the most recent fiscal year
    • A minimum of two employees. Owner(s) may be included in this count.

To get the most out of the program, participants must commit to:

  • Attending regularly
  • Completing 24 learning sessions over 12 weeks
  • Participating fully—leave your cell phone at the door
  • Creating a business growth plan over the course of the program
  • Completing an initial assessment and follow-up assessments


Tuesday and Thursday, Feb. 12 to April 30, 2018
5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Class will begin with content lectures, move into peer-to-peer structured sessions and finish with customized business coaching from mentors and staff.

The additional business coaching available from the Center for Entrepreneurship and ID mentors will be customized to the participant's business needs, focused on applicable areas such as: legal, marketing, operations, finance and sales. Business advisers may be available outside of program hours.  

Out-of-class assignments will be required.

Week 1: Program Orientation

Begin the journey of Acceleration! The original session will be a complete program overview with review of the critical elements required to support expansion and present key questions for self-assessment. Program orientation will include aspects of strategic development with review of the foundation of your business: vision/mission statement, business plan review and SWOT analysis. Over the next 12 weeks, objectives will be discussed further, including determining your customized corporate goals and initiating the business growth plan.

Week 2: Leadership

Competitive advantage is fleeting. Identify the methods that top organizations use to improve themselves and their teams, leaders and strategies. Develop skills to understand how your performance impacts on the success of your business. Examine your current business plan and organizational structure to ensure it best fits your business model. Improve your own personal performance, develop personal objectives and behaviors, and assess the environment in which you are working. Understanding your personal entrepreneurial BOSI DNA will be important to move you from owner to CEO!

Week 3 and 4: Finance

Understanding your financials and addressing the question of scalability is key to the growth strategy. You have a great accountant so you are all set right?  WRONG. As the leader, you need to know and understand more than your top and bottom line. Your profit and loss, balance sheet and understanding of cash flow all interact together. Learn to become a profit master. Understanding how to use financial statements to effect change and improve performance, budgeting as a key element of the process, cost and pricing strategies that can be effective, identifying patterns of cash flow, what the financial ratios are and how to interpret. Acquisitions will be considered in these sessions as a path of growth. Wrapping up a discussion of financing options for better understanding of what works for your business.

    • Ratio analysis and how to apply it to your business
    • Use financial statements to effect change and improve performance
    • Implement cost and pricing strategies that are effective
    • Estimating total costs/investments necessary to support growth.
    • Understand and predict patterns of cash flow

Week 5: Organizational Process Improvement

Change is the norm and it is constant. With it you grow and prosper, without it you risk stagnation and possibly a slow demise. Understand the effect of operations improvement on profit and loss. Learn to see the business opportunities as an outsider would: how to spot signals for improvement opportunities, the 7 principles of process design, over 20 tools for process improvement, how to get started on mapping a key business process, and some key questions to trigger improvement ideas. Use real cases to practice identifying improvements and predicting bottom-line impact, and then get started with one of your own processes. Methods to optimizing your environment to spur creativity and value creation. Critical insights to help navigate weaknesses and increase strengths for continuous improvement.

    • Learn how to measure the impact of your practices and performance across the critical areas of your business: cycle time and cost.
    • Ideas for creating cross-functional teams more unified and engaged in the process
    • Methods for optimizing your environment to spur creativity and value creation
    • Finding Improvement Opportunities
    • Bottlenecks
    • Staffing
    • Managing suppliers
    • Continuous Improvement

Week 6: Marketing

Marketing is bringing the right product to the right customer at the right time, and promoting it through the right channels. Your product must have a well-defined advantage over the competition, and fulfill a compelling need for your targeted customer. Marketing strategy includes projecting future trends, needs and motivators, and positioning your product now to meet those emerging needs. Class content will include:

    • Identifying and profiling your targeted customer and creating engagement strategies based on this profile
    • Analyzing the competitive marketplace and positioning your product within the market
    • Expanding on existing market opportunities and creating new markets
    • Developing your product, message and channels to capture business, including electronic and social media outreach
    • Implementation and roll-out of your plan
    • Assessment and adjustment of your marketing plan
    • Identifying and addressing operational barriers to customer engagement and retention

Week 7: Sales

If you do not get the sales right, nothing else matters. Sometime we are lucky enough to have such a brilliant business idea that it sells on its own, but for most of us continuous networking, sales efforts and strong client relations are what determines long-term success. This session will include tools to develop a sales pipeline, procedures for tracking leads and secrets on how to act on those leads, techniques to opening and closing a sale (practice, practice, practice) and methods for delivering exemplary client care and generating repeat sales.

Week 8: Human Resources (April 3 and 5, 2018)

Understand your current culture and your current team!  Slotting the right people for the right job is critically important for “second stage” businesses if they are to succeed and grow. Another look at the entrepreneurial mindset with the twist of focus on your employees; are they intrapreneurial? Identify critical issues related to the human resource functions including major traps that business owners fall into when growing.

    • Overview of key laws
    • Building a job description
    • Recruiting/hiring best practices
    • Basic compensation/pay structure analysis
    • Employee relations/discipline/performance reviews/termination – this includes guidance on documentation
    • Anti-harassment – what all employers need to know
    • Workshop – small groups would review scenarios and present action plans
    • Assessing your culture/employment brand (transition to you – Boss DNA)

Week 9: Growth Markets

Learn how to set your profit goals and use 10 levers to grow your business profits. Compare risk and timing for different growth methods, from current customers and quick wins to new aggregators, new markets, and new products. Practice predicting bottom-line results, and choose your own business growth strategy. New markets discussed will be government contracting and expanding internationally. 

Week 10: Technology

IT Systems are necessary to support daily operations and acceleration. Assess current platforms in four work areas, identify areas for streamlining processes and make strides in IT innovations best solution for your business.

Week 11: Succession Planning

Day 1 of opening your business – what is my plan for selling the business? Are you ready? Understand the stages in the process of selling a small business. Learn how a selling price is determined, how to make your business ready for sale, the kind of deal to expect, due diligence requirements, the role of advisors, and other deal terms. Compare deal terms with owner goals, such as deal structure and timing, earn-outs, and seller financing. Practice assessing your own business value and the deal terms you would accept.

Week 12: Social Responsibility/Impact

It is possible to make a difference and make money. Numerous studies in recent years have shown that consumers prefer to buy from companies that blend social purpose with corporate mission. Identify ten ways to move to a socially conscious business that with can bring a stronger community presence and bring an increase in profitability.

Final evening:

Present business growth plan to other participants for critical feedback

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