Accelerator Cohort Program Overview
Move from operator of your business to being the CEO—take your business to the next level.
• 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.
• Attend regularly
• Complete 24 learning sessions over 12 weeks
• Out-of-class assignments will be required.
• Participate fully—leave your cell phone at the door
• Create an Accelerator Strategic Action Plan over the course of the program
• Complete an initial assessment and follow-up assessments
Begin the journey of Acceleration! The first night you will be meeting all of the facilitators so they can get to know you and your company better, in addition to hearing from those who have come before you and completed the Owner-to-CEO Business Accelerator. Engage in a review of critical elements required to support expansion and 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 discussion and SWOT analysis. Over the next 12 weeks, there will be further discussion of objectives, including determining your customized corporate goals and initiating the Accelerator Strategic Action Plan.
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! Truly considering the entrepreneurial mindset with the twist of focus on your employees – are they intrapreneurial?
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 the success of your business. Examine your current business plan and organizational structure to ensure it best supports your business model.
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. Financing options will be examined to gain better understanding of what will work best for your business.
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 seven principles of process design, over 20 tools for process improvement, how to get started on mapping a key business process, and key questions to trigger improvement ideas. Use case studies 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.
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.
Gain the understanding needed for the relational marketing through Social Media. Understand the differences in social media, what social media platforms your business must engage with and the tricks to good content to build your audience and your brand.
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, and practice) and methods for delivering exemplary client care and generating repeat sales.
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.
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. Identify critical issues related to the human resource functions including major traps that business owners fall into when growing.
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.
Day One of opening your business – what is your 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.
Social Responsibility and 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 transition to a socially conscious business that with can bring a stronger community presence and increase profitability.
Present Accelerator Strategic Action Plan to other participants for targeted feedback
Additional Business Coaching
The Center for Entrepreneurship and ID mentors are available to provide coaching 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.
Innovation DuPage: Accelerator Cohort Program
Entrepreneurs discuss their Accelerator Cohort experience with College of DuPage's Innovation DuPage. Learn how ID can help you take your business to the next level!