Can business peer groups make you more successful?
As a growing entrepreneur you will know how hard it is to run a business. There is so much to do and not enough hours in the day or people in the team.
Being a successful entrepreneur means understanding that you don’t have all the answers. Working with other entrepreneurs in a business peer group to ask and answer the real questions sets you up to win.
Business peer groups are a very valuable resource to a growing entrepreneur. They provide a soundboard, help in making important decisions and a problem solving forum.
Here are some key areas that a business peer group can assist with.
Taking time out for strategic input
Strategy is an essential ingredient to ongoing success as a business and yet not enough entrepreneurs make time for it. We all know that it is important to take time out to think and figure out your next steps. It’s important to get strategic input, but how to make the time and who to consult? Tricky questions, there are so many options at the moment, everyone and their aunty is currently advising entrepreneurs and it can be difficult to figure out what the best use of your time and money are.
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” Theodore Roosevelt.
I have found that this is at the heart of good strategy and entrepreneurship.
It’s all about resources: time, money, people.
Most entrepreneurs are really busy. More often than not, they are the manager, leader and head implementer all rolled into one. It helps to take time out to separate the roles and think about what you are doing. Most of us get stuck in the how thinking, which can be incredibly narrow as a focus. Then there is why as Simon Sinek explains in this great clip.
Taking the time out of the operations of your business to think more about what needs to be done is incredibly valuable. Steven Covey has a lovely analogy “Imagine a crew clearing a path through the jungle. The workers are hacking away with their machetes, while the managers are making schedules and encouraging the machete wielders. The leader climbs the tallest tree, looks around and hollers down to the crew below, “Wrong jungle!” This article illustrates it further.
The problem with doing strategy on your own or just with your partners is that you often get stuck in your own world view, missing possible opportunities and blind spots. Having other smart, capable people to bounce your ideas off is a much more successful way of looking at your business.
Only other entrepreneurs really understand
Most people with jobs do not understand the stress and difficulty of running your own business. A question I often ask is “If you are a parent, do you take parenting advice from people who don’t have kids?” No, I thought not. Although there are a great deal of amazing advisors and coaches and well-meaning business accelerators out there, many of the advisors have desk jobs or are only responsible for themselves or some associates, they don’t know what it’s like to worry about getting all your people paid at the end of the month.
Other entrepreneurs GET IT! They know, because they have walked that mile and have solved problems that may still be in your future. This is why business peer groups are such valuable resources. You have uninterrupted face to face time, in a safe confidential environment to share what is REALLY going on in your business with people who understand, care and will help you work it out. This is valuable.
Time, one of your most valuable resources has to be leveraged
As a business owner there are so many demands on your time. Your clients take a lot of your bandwidth, then, you still need to deal with your team and ensure that everyone is on track, and we have not yet considered planning, financial management, marketing and sales. Oh, and don’t forget eating healthy, getting some exercise and being an awesome parent/partner…
I know, right?
This is where business peer groups really give you bang for your buck. In a short period of time you have access to other likeminded business people who are able to advise you, ask great questions, help you make decisions and you are developing deep, trust based relationships that encourage referrals.
One of the most important things to do is to prioritize your time. This means that you have to be really clear on what results you are trying to achieve so that you can focus on those activities. Staying focused can be hard when you are the leader.
It helps to have a group of people who know what you are trying to achieve and can focus you when you get too operational. It’s like having a board of directors, but less scary.
Why a business peer group can help you succeed
- Make better decisions regarding those important issues that are difficult to think through all on your own – this results in a more successful business over time as others question your assumptions, point our your blind spots and share resources when you need them most. This is where the real return on investment occurs.
- Get great advice from people who will ask questions you never dreamed of and have your best interests at heart, you are not paying them so they will give it to you straight. Many of them will have real experience of what you are going through. They will share their knowledge, resources and time if needed.
- Save money and time – you have dedicated time in a month with other entrepreneurs who are all experts in their field, all in one place and for less than the cost of a coaching session you solve problems, get trust based contacts and opportunities.
- Save yourself expensive mistakes by learning from others with real life situations and solutions. There is nothing quite like observing someone else deal with something and supporting them to deal with it to learn.
- Grow your business mindset and understanding of business as you work ON your business and not in your business with people from diverse industries and world views. This means that you have an incredibly rich lens focused on your business once a month. You are also involved in solving business problems you may not have faced yet; this raises your awareness and develops your map of the territory.
- Build trust based business relationships that over time result in more business and support that keeps you motivated and on track. As the group get to know each other the trust that naturally occurs as people face difficult things together creates strong bonds and referrals and references are a natural consequence. People like to do business with people they like and trust as Stephen Covey explains. This more than anything else will contribute to your success.
It’s important to understand that this is not networking. When you are networking you have to have your game face on. You are out in the world looking good and convincing people you are solid. A business peer group is real, real problems, real solutions, real connection, and real trust.
In conclusion, it has been my experience that having a business peer group that supports your development as an entrepreneur can be a game changer. Entrepreneurs who are supported are far more likely to succeed than those that are not.
If you are interested finding out more about such a group contact us on www.thestrategycircle.co.za
I have worked with over 600 entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs in the last twenty years doing strategy planning and organisational development. I have worked in corporates and NGO’s. I have had my own business in one form or another for the last 17 years and have been running groups like this since I started my first business in 2003. I have produced course material for numerous business incubator programmes, and I’m passionate about seeing other entrepreneurs win. View all articles by this author.