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Last Friday, a group of about 25 Dallas-area entrepreneurs gathered at Southern Methodist University to learn how to “accelerate” their businesses.

The Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of Entrepreneurs’ Organization hosted a meeting on SMU’s campus of its Accelerator Program, which is meant to help local entrepreneurs grow their businesses to more than $1 million in sales.

Entrepreneurs’ Organization, a global network of more than 8,000 businesses, has 121 chapters in 40 countries, and there are about 150 members in the Metroplex. The criteria that must be met to become a member of Entrepreneurs’ Organization includes that the applicant must be a founder, co-founder, owner or controlling shareholder of a company, and the company must generate more than $1 million in revenue annually.

The Accelerator Program, which is hosted by Entrepreneurs’ Organization, currently takes place in several United States cities and is meant to help businesses that make between $250,000 and $1 million in annual sales increase that amount to more than $1 million.

“The EO’s Accelerator Program was developed to help smaller, early-stage startup businesses build a solid foundation of strategy, sales and marketing, human resources and financial tools to help them reach the $1 million plateau,” said Steve Kinder, a Dallas entrepreneur, who helps lead the D-FW Accelerator Program.

As a part of the Accelerator Program, there are “quarterly learning days” for the participants that include educational sessions, which address a variety of topics, Kinder said. Sales and marketing are the topics that were addressed at the D-FW Accelerator Program’s meeting at SMU last week.

The Accelerator Program also has “monthly learning socials,” where participants go to local entrepreneurs’ businesses that are already established to talk with the owners about how they got started and the challenges they had to overcome, Kinder said.

In addition to the learning days and monthly socials, the Accelerator Program has mentor and accountability groups, Kinder said. Once a month, the members of the program break down into groups of about five people and meet with their mentor, who is a member of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, for several hours to address struggles, challenges and how to accomplish goals.

“At the beginning of the Accelerator Program, you put together a yearlong, one-page focus plan, which is a goal and action task list of what you are going to accomplish to work toward that $1 million plateau,” Kinder said. “The mentor oversees that, and then you meet once a month with your mentor and the rest of the people in the group to share your challenges and talk about your struggles.”

The D-FW Accelerator Program currently has 28 participants and is limited to a total of 30, Kinder said. This is the second year the D-FW chapter of Entrepreneurs’ Organization has been conducting the Accelerator Program, and one of the participants has already “graduated” by increasing his business’s annual revenue to more than $1 million, and he is now a member of Entrepreneurs’ Organization.

“This program has become an avenue for mentoring, helping smaller startup businesses and just creating a better community between the smaller businesses and the more established businesses in the entrepreneurial community here in Dallas,” Kinder said.

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Benefits of the Accelerator Program

  • “Connect with other entrepreneurs, including the leading business owners in your city and other first-stage entrepreneurs who face similar challenges”
  • “Uncover the key elements of an effective corporate strategy”
  • “Discover how to replicate yourself as a means to grow your company”
  • “Learn tips and strategies for raising capital and dealing with accounts”
  • “Receive practical feedback to help you grow sales effectively”
  • “Develop the skills required to improve your leadership and entrepreneurial abilities”

(Source: http://www.dfwaccelerator.org)