How to Know If a Business Accelerator Is Right For You and Your Company

Claire Angelle, an Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) Accelerator participant in Atlanta, founded Angelle Consulting–a mission-driven PR company–in 2018. Claire fuels positive change by elevating the voices of business leaders committed to do well by doing good. We asked Claire why she joined a business accelerator program to help grow and scale her business. Here’s what she shared:

As a solopreneur, I’m looking to take my business to the next level. Joining an accelerator program helped me take this leap of faith, despite my company’s humble beginnings.

Born and raised in France, I moved to Atlanta in 2007 to work in communications for the French Foreign Service. No stranger to uprooting my life, when given the opportunity to move to New York and work for a renowned media group, I jumped on it. However, within six weeks, said media group faced unsurmountable financial hurdles, and I was laid-off, together with most of the staff.

Before that day, I had never entertained the idea of being an entrepreneur. Overnight, I registered an LLC out of pure necessity–relying on my communication skills and network. To my surprise, Angelle Consulting was profitable that very first month and I never looked back. I returned to Atlanta’s warmer climate shortly after. Quickly, my clientele grew through word of mouth. A clear vision emerged: to elevate the voices of business leaders committed to doing well by doing good through PR and strategic partnerships.

Recently, I’ve outgrown my small network of subcontractors and realized that my company requires a sophisticated structure to satisfy the increasing demand. More importantly, I want to expand our impact. What if we could help hundreds–instead of a dozen–of companies to showcase the incredible work that they do to make the world a better place? Companies are increasingly moving away from “doing no harm” toward a positive footprint. I want to be a resource for SMBs who walk the talk and aspire to have their stories told and amplified.

While exploring podcasts and books on how to scale, I found countless excuses to maintain the status quo. What was missing was a structure led by peers in which I’m not simply told what to do but benefit from the experience of those who have done it before me. The other thing I needed was accountability: a platform that allowed me to set ambitious goals and a framework to report back on my progress.

I often tell clients that there are two powerful motivators in life and therefore communication: desire and fear. I found both in the EO Accelerator. It inspired me to reach new heights by witnessing first-hand the success of fellow entrepreneurs–that instills desire. It also comes with a sense of responsibility toward my peers to take full advantage of this unique learning opportunity and deliver–that inspires fear.

The program also provides a unique sense of community. It’s a place to be authentic and vulnerable. After all, many of the obstacles I face in business are not operational; they’re psychological: fear of failure, fear of financial loss, fear of success even. I couldn’t have found a better place to grow as a business leader.

That being said, finding one’s tribe is very personal. For emerging and seasoned entrepreneurs alike looking at resources to grow and scale, I found the following steps helpful:

Identify what’s holding you back.

If these obstacles revolve around specific pain points (pricing strategy, contract agreement, internal KPIs, or processes), you may find solutions through readily available resources or subject matter experts.

Determine your growth needs.

If these needs are general in nature (strategic planning, hiring practices, or cash flow management), accelerators are ideal as they provide a wide array of learning opportunities. However, if your needs are very specific (e.g., international expansion, M&A, or an industry niche), you may want to research more targeted programs, such as exporting or trade association offerings.

Assess your learning style.

Some learn better with a concrete roadmap telling them what to do every step of the way. Others, like myself, learn best by hearing other people’s experiences and adapting that learning to their own circumstances. There are countless business accelerator programs–one for each learning style.

Embarking on my accelerator journey feels like a leap of faith. It’s thrilling, invigorating, and nerve-wracking all at once. For a long time, I thought that what defined entrepreneurs was the absence of fear. Now, I embrace and transcend that fear and encourage others to do the same. It’s about purpose. It’s about grit, resilience, and that hustle muscle. It’s about being a problem-solver at heart.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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