By Michelle Kang
Northwest Asian Weekly
Business owners of the world, unite! The Entrepreneurs’ Organization is a global network intended to advise and provide resources for entrepreneurs. It has 113 chapters worldwide with over 6000 members. The Seattle chapter is the only chapter to be headed by an Asian American, Northwest Asian Weekly’s Entrepreneur of the Year James Wong.
What does this organization offer that you can’t find on your own in Fast Company or Forbes magazine? Wong, president of the Seattle chapter since July 2007, attributes the benefits to the collegial and supportive atmosphere of the meetings and the free-for-all spirit of discussions.
He said, “We get together once a month to share our experiences. Everything is confidential. It’s like a forum.” The Seattle chapter was founded in 1993, with member industries ranging from technology to baked goods. Total sales of members top U.S. $670 million.
Given that membership is by invitation only to entrepreneurs with over 1 million in sales annually, don’t confuse this group with your college’s career development services. Instead of giving out pamphlets and offering advice to newcomers to the field, the meeting is intended for business owners already at the top, not lemonade stand aspirants.
But for every Starbucks and Boeing, there are plenty of businesses that fall far short of revenues of 1 million dollars. Those that want to climb to the top face a challenge. With limited experience and connections to resources to grow your business, it’s difficult to gain the momentum needed to succeed.
With this in mind, the Seattle chapter was chosen as one of 10 U.S. cities to launch the Accelerator program. Sponsored by Mercedes Benz, Accelerator is a curriculum-based yearlong program that gives early-stage entrepreneurs the push they may need to thrive at the highest tier of business. The goal is to provide training specifically designed to grow businesses into attracting more than 1 million dollar in sales.
Where the Entrepreneurs’ Organization is not about teaching, Accelerator is. With four one-day workshops throughout the year as well as invitations to other EO events, participants are taught the fundamentals of business ownership and development. Making contacts as well as social networking are also an integral part of the program. The program costs $1000 and is only open to 20 participants. For businesses aiming for a seven-figure income, that cost is minimal.
Wong explained the impetus of the program. He said, “There are a lot of business owners who are struggling, who are wondering, ‘How can I get help?’ This is a system to help you grow your business from $250,000 to 1 million a year. And that’s exciting to a lot of people!”
As co-founder of three technology companies, including Avidian Technologies, the creators of Prophet CRM, where he is CEO, Wong is familiar with the ups and downs of hanging out a shingle. “You never stop thinking about your business, even when you’re off the clock,” he said.
Wong hopes the program will help the Asian community. He acknowledges that Asians are especially apprehensive about asking for help but he also expresses a hope that more and more diversity can be found at the top.
Rather than looking inward for advice, he said, “It’s important to have diversity, more women and more minorities. In a global business world, we can learn a lot by looking at other perspectives.” ♦
To learn more about Entrepreneurs’ Organization, visit www.eonetwork.org. To learn more about Accelerator, visit accelerator.eonetwork.org.
Michelle Kang can be reached at email@example.com.