Is a Peer Advisory Group Right for You?

What’s one of the biggest challenges of entrepreneurship? Isolation! Cliché or not, it’s lonely at the top.

As a small business owner, you don’t have access to a board of directors. Chances are, you have no one to brainstorm with or challenge your theories. Sure, you can bounce ideas off your employees, but don’t expect an objective response.

The problem is, operating in a vacuum can skew your decision making and limit your growth. If your goal is to take your business to the next level, you need a springboard. For many entrepreneurs, that springboard is a peer group.

Small business peer groups, or peer advisory boards, have been around for several decades, and their popularity keeps growing.

A peer group consists of about a dozen small business owners/executives in non-competing industries who meet regularly to pool information and lend support.

Led by a professional facilitator, the group addresses a new topic each month, such as ways to cut expenses or attract new customers. The facilitator’s job: tap into the group’s collective wisdom, so members leave armed with new strategies and solutions.

Many small business owners get so caught up in day-to-day activities, they forget their most important job: company visionary. Peer group discussions force them to step back and take the long view.

In addition, members can pose business problems to the group and solicit solutions. Usually, someone else has already dealt with a similar challenge, so they benefit from each others’ experiences.

Peer groups also enforce accountability, which is especially important during tough times like now, when entrepreneurs often have to take unpleasant actions.

If you fit the following description, then chances are you’ll find benefit in joining a peer group:
• The ability to give and receive constructive criticism.
• The honestly required to admit mistakes and share successes.
• A desire to step back from everyday activity.
• A willingness to invest one morning a month in meetings.
• An open mind and desire to learn.

If this interests you, investigate local peer groups. Most will let you “sample” a meeting for free. Sometimes, you need to try a few to find the right fit.

If you are in Chicago or Phoenix, contact me at Ray@propres.com to attend a free meeting.

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3 Responses to “Is a Peer Advisory Group Right for You?”

  1. Maria Keiser Says:

    Well said! Peer advisory boards are so powerful that I believe it should be as important to the business owner as a business or marketing plan. “A study from the Small Business Administration showed that, between 2001 and 2004, business owners with an advisory board grew 44%, while those without one grew 25%.”

    I have also found that for an advisory board to provide a high level of quality to busy business owners, it must posses 5 basic components:

    1. Structure
    2. A working agreement among the board members along with a memorandum of understanding and procedure.
    3. Confidentiality agreements signed. (Imperative as to not compromise the integrity of the group)
    4. Commitment to being active in the group.
    5. An agenda (This will keep the meetings from losing direction and lowering the quality)

    This structure has allowed us to successfully keep 13 boards running in CT & NY
    I liked your article so much, I have placed the link on my blog for my readers. http://theentrepreneurcircle.wordpress.com/

  2. Great Article on Peer Advisory Boards « The Entrepreneur Circle Says:

    […] Article:  Is a Peer Advisory Group Right for You? […]

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