May 01, 2017
ACN: A Year of Harvest
by J.M. Emmert
Headquarters: Concord, North Carolina
Founders: Greg Provenzano, Mike Cupisz, Tony Cupisz, and Robert Stevanovski
Products: Telecommunications & Essential Services
The heart and soul of ACN Inc. has not changed at all since its inception in 1993. The core values established by co-founders Greg Provenzano, Robert Stevanovski, Mike Cupisz and Tony Cupisz remain the same—a foundation of integrity that drives every decision, every day, in every ACN country around the world.
However, the outward appearance of the Concord, North Carolina-based direct seller has changed considerably over the years. ACN began as a reseller of long-distance service in just one state; today, it is a global entity that is the world’s largest direct seller of telecommunications, energy and essential services for home and business. In 25 countries across four continents, ACN offers a full range of essential services, including wireless, service, gas and electricity, high-speed Internet, security and automation, payment processing, television and digital phone service—meanwhile designing and developing its own international digital phone service network. Additionally, the company launched its own wireless division, Flash Wireless, as well as sister companies XOOM Energy and Anovia Payments.
So much change is a testament to the company’s ability to grow—to recognize the needs of consumers and continually produce the products and services they need. It is also an affirmation that ACN’s leadership understands that constant tending to infrastructure and, most importantly, its Independent Business owners (IBOs), is integral to continued growth and success.
|Co-Founders Mike Cupisz, Robert Stevanovski, Greg Provenzano and Tony Cupisz.|
It seems fitting, therefore, that 2017 is a Year of Harvest at ACN. With a continued focus on personal development and the implementation of a company-wide digital transformation in place, ACN leaders are helping employees and IBOs become better versions of themselves, which, in turn, helps the company become a better version of itself. “We planted a seed of growth in 2016 based on everything we did to enhance our business—from streamlining products and services to improving operations and everything in between,” says Provenzano, ACN’s President and Co-Founder. “And now it’s time to go to harvest.”
Sow an Act, Reap a Habit
That simple act of staying focused on being a better version of itself has helped ACN remain among the elite direct sellers in the world. This year, the company placed 30th on the DSN Global 100 ranking with $750 million in revenue in 2016. While the cycle of any business brings peaks and valleys, ACN’s sustained success has been in part due to its ability to recognize that what works in one region may not work in another.
“Regardless of what country I travel to, and how different people are, at the end of the day, most people have one thing in common: they all want to create the best life for themselves and their families,” says Chairman and Co-Founder Robert Stevanovski. “That’s what ACN is about.” So ACN made it a priority to keep a watchful eye on countries that are deregulating, and then pioneers those markets. As one of the first direct sellers to offer mobile service in Mexico, ACN recently launched Flash Mobile there. They also recently launched Anovia Payments in Australia, Flash Mobile, Payment Processing, Security and Automation in Korea, and XOOM Energy in Japan.
“Regardless of how times change, people will always need and want to communicate with each other,” says Stevanovski. “Our job is simply to determine how people like to communicate, and then be there to provide those services.”
To provide those services when needed, ACN began 2016 with a digital transformation across its entire business to utilize technology in further enhancing the customer experience and IBO experience. “Operating at the highest level of efficiency while still providing our customers and IBOs with an experience that is second to none—that’s what is guiding our digital transformation,” Stevanovski says.
The company’s new website for its wireless MVNO Flash Wireless significantly improves the e-commerce platform. It simplifies the shopping and purchasing process for the customer, which ultimately simplifies the customer acquisition for the IBO. The website is the first of many more digital enhancements to come for the company, including a new global back office for IBOs that will allow them to manage their businesses better right from their mobile device, and personalized websites that will allow IBOs to share their businesses with both potential customers and IBOs faster and more effectively than ever before.
Sow a Habit, Reap a Character
Provenzano knows first-hand that the success of a direct selling company is directly related to the growth of its independent business owners. That knowledge comes from a long history in the direct selling space, marked by his own pursuit of personal growth as he overcame obstacles and found success.
Those lessons stayed with Provenzano when he first sat down with his co-founders to formulate ACN. Hence, the company created its entire culture around personal growth. “Those lessons, and this commitment to personal development, became an integral part of our business model,” he says. “We believe that if you aren’t growing as a person, there is no way for your business to grow. The two are absolutely interrelated. Your inner world will always catch up with your outer world.”
The channel itself is proof of that. In direct selling’s “no experience necessary” and “all walks of life are welcome” world, hard work, commitment and a great work ethic are often not enough to succeed. New entrepreneurs are often quick to give up an opportunity and a vehicle that can drive incredible change in their lives. To be truly successful in the channel, Provenzano says, success must be built from the inside out: Individuals must first change on the inside before success can ever be revealed on the outside.
And that can only come from personal growth. To support its belief in the power of personal development, ACN has implemented a robust program that provides its IBOs with articles, books, audios, videos and more—millions of dollars in content that they can access online anytime.
“You have to make the investment in your people if you expect them to make an investment in you,” Provenzano says. “I often encourage our leaders to ‘change the scenery,’ to periodically get around people that aren’t impressed with them because if you are always the smartest person in the group, you’re not growing. This is what personal development does for us: It provides a change in perspective, a reality check. It forces us to look at ourselves in a completely different and new way, and it’s only then that the greatest versions of our companies and ourselves are revealed.”
Sow a Character, Reap a Destiny
ACN will mark its 25th year in business in 2018. While the company plans a big celebration for its silver anniversary, Provenzano says ACN’s focus will remain firmly fixed on the future. It will continue to streamline and enhance its products and services to ensure they are offering customers the services they need; it will continue the company-wide digital transformation across all its websites and digital media platforms to ensure they are not just with the curve but ahead of it; and it will continue to pour more into the compensation plan, business support tools and IBOs through its commitment to personal growth.
“Simply put, during our 25th year, we will continue to do what we have always done: offer an incredible business opportunity to individuals around the world,” Provenzano says. “Everything we’ve done in the past 25 years has been about simply laying the groundwork and building a foundation for the next 25, 50, 100 years.”
And that foundation, he notes, is rock solid because everyone at ACN, from the co-founders and executives to the employees and IBOs, looks out for each other and raises each other up. “We have a responsibility to ourselves to become stronger and better, because if we aren’t the best version of ourselves, we can’t be any good for anyone else,” Provenzano says. “We encourage our leaders not to let their teams off the hook. If they aren’t pushing their people and they aren’t willing to be pushed to be better, then they are wasting their own time and their team’s time. Sometimes the greatest momentum comes from the smallest push.”
|ACN headquarters in Concord, North Carolina.|
Or the tiniest seed planted. Provenzano has always believed that whatever God created, He created it to grow. But that does not mean it happens automatically, without effort. “You can’t just plant a garden, then step back and expect it to grow on its own,” he says. “You have to be willing to get your hands dirty—to pull weeds, prune and water the garden. You must be actively involved. If you become stagnant and expect your garden to grow on its own without effort from you, while it might sustain for a while, it’s only a matter of time before it will die out completely. The same can be said for our business. Success in ACN—or in anything for that matter—requires concentrated, focused and consistent effort.”