When Is a Business Accelerator a Better Option Than Business School?

Ryan Villanueva is an entrepreneur, educator and co-founder of Best Delegate, a rapidly growing education company with a goal of making Model United Nations a worldwide program in order to help this generation of students lead the world to a better, more peaceful, just, and sustainable future. As a graduate of EO Accelerator and a current EO Boston member, Ryan says that he “shares huge debt of gratitude toward the EO Accelerator program for its impact on my business and my own professional development.”

I couldn’t have joined EO Accelerator at a better time. In 2014, my co-founder and I decided to hire our first employees. It had been just the two of us up to that point, until we realized we couldn’t handle all the work required to run a growing business if we didn’t hire. Now we were about to hire fresh college graduates who were entrusting us with the beginning of their careers—and livelihoods!

We didn’t have a board, a business coach or even the right books to guide us. We had to figure out hiring, on-boarding and training. We wanted new hires to understand what we do—heck, we, the co-founders, needed to understand what we do, and get it out of our heads and actually write it down.

And we needed a “system” for managing the company, even remotely. Our entire team would be remote, spread out across the U.S., and traveling frequently for projects. When you can’t look over someone’s shoulder, how do you hold them accountable?

Thankfully, I was introduced to the EO Accelerator program because of David Carnes. His office hosted the first Learning Day I attended. An hour into that day, I thought to myself, “Where has this been all my life?” I found a community of entrepreneurs going through the challenges of building a business. We discussed questions and learned tools that I could see how I could apply to my business.

Learn more about Ryan’s story by watching this video.

I had been considering business school for a while, and I felt like I found a better alternative with Accelerator. The event wasn’t an academic exercise where I needed to memorize every single concept and pass an exam. It was all about the practical—one or two things that could be applied and have an immediate impact. I also couldn’t see myself running a company while going to school. By contrast, Accelerator’s quarterly Learning Days and monthly accountability groups provided a good balance between running a company and then pressing “pause” to do professional development. Accelerator was not only a better, more reasonable time commitment; it served as a timely reminder to work not just “in” the business, but “on” the business.

After the Learning Day, I got signed up with a mentor and joined an accountability group. I now had a mini “board” that I could go to for guidance. I appreciated how much we learned just by sharing each other’s experiences, as well as the direct advice offered by a grizzled mentor.

After joining EO Accelerator, I gained the tools I needed to manage a young but fast growing team. I developed an “Operating System” comprising the tools, concepts and processes learned through EO Accelerator, which could be used to manage a purely remote company. I got the “right books” and made them required reading for my employees.

Three years later, my company more than doubled in revenue and size. I graduated out of Accelerator into joining EO as a full member. I continue to attend Learning Days and volunteer for the Accelerator program.

Read other stories from EO Accelerator participants.

I often meet with entrepreneurs who run small but growing businesses, and who don’t know about Accelerator or EO. They share with me their challenges and I share my Accelerator experience with them. And when they ask me whether Accelerator is worth it, I just tell them: wherever they are with their business—there’s no better time to join.

Are you a founder who’s ready to take your business to the next level of growth? Or maybe you’ve been at it a while and need a push to bring your business further. Check out how EO Accelerator can help you.

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