For many business owners, building your business is a lonely journey. You may not be able to talk to your staff about the challenges you’re encountering with the business, and you certainly can’t complain about staff to staff – which can put you in a position in which you feel isolated during the most stressful and challenging times.
Often you can’t even celebrate some of the big wins you achieve with your team. To have the entire weight of your business on your shoulders without being able to share these things is a very tiring, lonely, and sometimes painful way to be. This is where the importance of having a community of peers comes in.
Why is it Important to Have a Peer Group?
The reason for having a group of peers outside of your business to support you is simple. There’s so much we can’t talk about, share, or brainstorm with our employees. Plus, your employees are too involved in the day-to-day happenings of the business to notice gaps.
Having a group of peers around you provides a relatively independent group of advisors who can spot holes in your strategy and gaps in your business that you may not recognize are there. They can hold you accountable to your goals in a way your employees never will (partly because your employees may not even know what your goals as the business leader are).
Peer groups open a wide range of opportunities you may never have considered. So, how do you find a great one?
What Makes a Great Peer Group?
The best peers are those who are going through the same journey and are close to the same point in their business as you. In this way, a peer is different from a mentor, because mentors are people who are further along in their journey than you.
Of course, your ideal peers are those who are not direct competitors of your business. If you’re running a small business, your peers would be other small business owners in a non-competitive area who are roughly at the same point in their business journey. This puts you in the company of people who are likely dealing with similar challenges, can help you examine your business from a new perspective, and can help with your personal growth.
As motivational speaker Jim Rohn said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” And that is precisely why you want to surround yourself with an excellent peer group.
How a Peer Group and a Thinking Partner Can Complement One Another
As a business strategy consultant and solopreneur, it can get lonely. Everyone talks to me about their problems, but I can’t talk to my clients about mine. That’s why I’m in a peer group with other coaches in a similar field who are at the same stage of their career progression, but who are geographically separated so that we’re not in competition.
During our monthly 90-minute meetings, we discuss how we’re doing things in our respective businesses, we share tools, we problem-solve, and we work to help each other build our practices. This is hugely valuable.
I also have a thinking partner who I work one-on-one with. She, like me, is a coach and she challenges and encourages me just like a coach and pushes me in ways in which my peer group might not. I do the same for her, and we build each other up this way.
Having these peers and partnerships around me is nothing short of transformational for my business. Every business owner should have support like this around them.
How to Find a Peer Group
There are plenty of options out there for surrounding yourself with a worthy peer group. Here are the best places to start.
1. Join an Established Peer Group for Business Owners
Many companies, such as TEC Canada and MacKay Peer Groups, offer peer advisory groups for leaders at all stages of learning and growth. These are usually segmented by the size of the business and they are professionally facilitated.
2. Look Into Peer Groups Run by Associations
Take a look at the associations you belong to, as they often run peer groups. These tend to be role-specific, which means there would be a peer group for CEOs, a separate one for HR, another for operations and so on. There’s huge value in being part of one of these and also having relevant staff be part of their respective peer groups to develop members of your team.
3. Join a Peer Group Based on Taking a Journey Together
This option refers to accessing shared learning by joining a peer group based on moving through a shared process together. A common form of this would be some kind of continuing education program, such as an MBA program or vertical-specific group coaching programs.
What’s even better is our Growth Accelerator Program, which guides business owners through a journey to build and scale their businesses. This program brings groups of 8 business leaders together, building their businesses together, discussing challenges and successes, troubleshooting problems, and sharing referrals and connections.
4. Create Your Own Peer Group
If you can’t find the peer group you’re looking for, why not start your own? All you need to do is find 3 to 5 entrepreneurs who are at the same place in their journey and aren’t in direct competition with you. These should be people you like and trust enough to share and build together on a monthly basis.
Whether you call it a peer group, an accelerator, or a mastermind doesn’t matter. It’s about creating a community you can trust and talk to. If you create your own peer group, you’ll want to adopt the level 10 meeting structure (or something similar) for your meetings. You can adapt this as necessary, but it will give you a great starting point that includes check-ins, trust-building, accountability, and problem-solving.
If you’re a small business owner who is looking to create clarity and build a great business that you can grow, plus be part of a group of peers going through he same journey, get in touch to learn more about how Incrementa’s Growth Accelerator Program can help you drive results.