Often times as the owner or CEO of a company, it can seem very lonely at the top. It does not necessarily have to be that way. It can be very difficult to talk about the intricacies of your business to employees or other managers, especially when you are looking for an honest opinion. I mean, you are the boss and employees might be intimidated by you and will not offer their “honest” opinion for fear of repercussions. The inability to discuss important issues when you are in the trenches can seem like the world is on your shoulders with no relief in sight. I know from personal experience that many times the level of stress that I put on myself can often be alleviated by simply talking to a peer, getting my thoughts off my shoulders and seeking some outside advice.
While this is okay from time to time to lean on a friend or a colleague, no one wants to feel like they are a burden on someone. However, in the right setting, such as in a peer support group, the whole point of the group is to listen and help one another. It is a setting where you are expected to share your problems and accomplishments, stresses and successes as well as listen and offer advice and suggestions to other members of the group as well.
Here are 7 benefits that you will find when belonging to a small business peer group:
1. They can be a sounding board for ideas.
The best idea is a well thought out and tested idea that has been challenged and examined from every angle. The more tests and feedback that we get for our ideas before we implement them, the stronger we can make them and the better our chances for success. Additionally, an idea that you think is brilliant, after debate and challenging from your peers, can prove to not be a good idea at all and could save you a lot of time and the burden from costly mistakes.
2. They can offer access to resources.
Everyone knows someone! You might find yourself in need of a website developer or a contractor and rather than taking a chance with the phone book, a recommendation from a trusted peer, especially one who is emotionally vested in helping you succeed, will often save you frustration and wasted resources. When in need – Ask! You never know who might know someone that can solve an immediate need that you or your company has.
3. They can teach you how to scale.
One the most challenging aspects I face in my business is learning how to scale. I have been told that growing to fast and having uncontrolled success can be just as detrimental to the business as lack of sales. This is a common reason why businesses fail. Within the peer group, there is always someone who has been through the process and who can guide you on what to do and, more importantly, what not to do. Things like overstaffing and lack of internal processes can be a huge strain on your business. This is one area where members of your peer group can help improve your chances of scaling successfully.
4.They offer you personal support.
As a small business owner it can be from very difficult to nearly impossible to separate personal issues in your home and family life from your business life. When you consider that most business owners spend the majority of their waking hours working at or on their business, personal problems either take a back seat, often making them worse, or they can be so daunting that they vastly affect your productivity, decision making ability and your overall persona with employees and customers. A peer group can provide outlet and the support you might need during difficult times.
5. They hold you accountable.
One of the major keys to being successful in business and in life is accountability; following through with the things that you need to in order for you and your business to succeed. Peer groups can act like accountability partners. They not only offer advice and support but they can also check up and call on each other to see how they are doing with their proposed plans.
6. They help you remove the blinders.
We all have blinders on from time to time as we run our business. It could be in the form of trying to avoid confrontation, seeing a long term affect that a current decision could have or simply not noticing how your actions could be affecting others within your business. In a peer group you will get honest feedback and tough love that can help you identify the areas that you need to improve – – both with your business and as a leader.
7. They can help you learn from others successes and failures.
The beauty of a peer group or mastermind group is that even when listening to an issue being discussed by someone else it is still an opportunity for you to learn from them. Challenges that someone else is facing might not be something you are facing today, but it could be something that you might face in the future. Every interaction and story is an opportunity for you to learn and grow as a business leader. Being aware of how problems start and knowing how to deal with them will go a long way to help you as you and your business grow. This applies to successes as well as failures. I don’t know about you, but I love hearing about other business owner’s success stories. I find them a huge source of inspiration and highly motivational. Often times it helps me get the “If they can do it, I can do it” mindset. It is good when we can learn from our mistakes and successes but it is great when we can learn from the mistakes, challenges and successes of others.