Each year, the Inc. 5000 list ranks the fastest-growing private companies in the U.S., highlighting a variety of industries. The question is, how did they get there?

We've talked with several entrepreneurs who credit their success to business accelerator programs, which empower them with the tools, community and accountability necessary to aggressively grow and master their businesses. In addition to providing encouragement for working through the challenges of scaling up, business accelerator programs provide access to people who've achieved the success startup entrepreneurs are striving for.

In 2017, multiple entrepreneurs who graduated from business accelerator programs made the Inc. 5000 list. In a series of in-depth interviews, we asked what makes their businesses tick and how they landed on that most noteworthy list.

Tara Wilson is an EntrepreneursOrganization (EO) member in Fort Worth, Texas, and founder and CEO of the Tara Wilson Agency (TW Agency), ranked #901 on the 2017 Inc. 5000 list. We asked Tara how her experience with a business accelerator program helped take her to the next level.

Describe your business.

TW/ Our company mantra says it all: "Fierce enough to handle it!" We're a committed team of fearless and creative experiential marketers who understand the tremendous power of inviting people into a brand's universe by way of a deeper, sensory and moving experience.

How did participating in an accelerator program shape your business?

TW/ Joining a business accelerator program was one of the best decisions I ever made. It was the catalyst that catapulted TW Agency to the next level, empowering us with the tools, accountability and community we needed to aggressively master the business and grow―fast! It taught me how to grow and scale a business and even helped me determine what my ideal business was. Before the accelerator program, I ran an event planning company, but I soon realized it just wasn't scalable. Plot twist: I pivoted to create a marketing agency that focuses on Fortune 500 companies.

Your business grossed US$2.3 million dollars in 2016 and you count major brands, such as Samsung and Nike, among your clients. What's the secret to your mammoth success?

TW/ Our team is fiercely committed, 24/7/365. Each team member is valued, appreciated and uses every aspect of their vast talents. I've put processes in place to monitor our goal progress as a team on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis. We have an annual two-day strategy summit to discuss goals from the previous year and map the agency's strategy for the following year. We even identify specific team members to "own" a goal for 12 months and be responsible for pushing it forward―that means holding the team accountable, tracking, managing and reporting on the goal's progress.

What's one habit you gained from the business accelerator program that sets you apart?

TW/ The importance of implementing four "pillars" for running and growing a successful business: strategy, sales and marketing, finance and people. These are at the very core of our systems and processes―they represent our "must-do's" that we constantly work toward. I keep them at the forefront of our collective consciousness―it's what sets us apart from other agencies in our space.

What will being on the Inc. 5000 list mean for your business in 2018?

TW/ It launches us into an elite category. It's extremely validating for our team, who put in all the hard work to get us here. It definitely translates internally―boosting excitement and morale, elevating us.

Being named to the Inc. 5000 also makes us attractive to other women, providing visibility and exposure to those who may not have heard of us―yet. I want to shout it from every rooftop: We are an agency founded by, for and of women. We understand what women want and know how to speak to and connect with them. We are them.

Lastly, this honor gives us more exposure to potential clients who might not have heard about us in any other way, allowing us to be strategic in our working partnerships. We are laser-focused on the projects we choose, and feel the freedom to say no to projects that don't resonate. We know we'll deliver the best by doing what we know best.

Tara Wilson both founded and graduated from the EO Accelerator program in Fort Worth, Texas, and then served as its Chair for three years. EO Accelerator not only partners with Gazelles but also offers participants the unique experience of learning from and connecting with the world's most influential entrepreneurs.​​​

Published on: Jan 19, 2018