Feeling like you’re alone in solving the problems of your business? Struggling with analysis paralysis? Overburdened by the daily minutia of decisions you need to make? Me too! I recently had an experience that opened my eyes to the power of peer groups. You don’t have the go it alone.
It was a busy Friday. I was trying wrap up several things to close out the week when I realized I was late to a morning meeting. I was supposed to be at coffee with a couple friends to talk about a consulting practice they’re trying to get off the ground. Crap! Another thing to interrupt my day.
I had back-to-back meetings at the same coffee shop, so I didn’t end up leaving there until lunch time. As I walked out, I glanced at my phone saw I had a Skype message from an old business partner asking if he could bounce some business ideas off me.
“I got a business idea that I can’t get out of my head and need to chat, got time?”
A 15-minute call for an old friend? Sure. Well, an hour and a half later I was finally opening my lunch and taking a breath of fresh air. The thing was, I actually felt refreshed, not drained! I realized that by talking all morning with fellow business owners I was gaining a new perspective on my own business. I realized that I was not alone.
We talked about sales prospecting and funnels, a problem I was regularly mulling over with my team.
We talked about marketing and positioning and where to spend precious time and money resources, a key focus right now for Waypoint.
In my third meeting, we drilled down on the core problem my buddy’s new business is trying to solve.
These are problems ALL businesses face…problems I had been trying to solve in my own business just that morning. The strange thing was, as we talked I was able to contribute pointed advice because I had a different perspective.
Was I smarter than them? No.
Were their problems unique? Not really.
All I had was a unique perspective. I was not the one agonizing over the millions of day-to-day decisions or suffering from analysis paralysis. I had an objective view of the situation.
It’s not rocket science, in fact, it’s rather simple. I had a clear mind to devote to the problem. This was so powerful. I was able to see the ROI of a peer group in real time, immediately allowing me to look at my own problems in a new light. And I wanted more. So here are my recommended steps if you resonate with this story:
Never Eat Alone
Commit to getting lunch with a fellow leader at least monthly. If lunch is too big of a commitment, then do a video call. Schedule it as a regular event on your calendar. Making it monthly gives you time to reflect on what you have done, and come up with questions for one another on the problems you face. Try to alternate the focus with each meeting so that you can maximize the time. One meeting you share, and the next your friend shares. Keep drilling down deeper.
Most leaders are hungry for this kind of interaction. Being a leader is a lonely place, but it doesn’t have to be. A mistake I made while considering a peer group was thinking that my business was too unique and no one would be able to give me valuable advice. The fact is, there’s nothing new under the sun when it comes to core business advice. You should regularly have someone from the outside (that has your best interest in mind) challenge your thinking by asking you fundamental questions about your business. You can’t afford to lose the forest for the trees.
Make It Official
As another option, you could look for peer grips that you can officially join. A quick Google search will bring up some local ones, and typically they welcome you as a guest with no commitment. I have since gotten into the habit of asking people in my local network if they are members of a peer group. You’d be surprised. There are such a wide range of groups that it’s difficult to keep a running list (many more unofficial).
You don’t have to go it alone. You can’t afford to go it alone. The more you open up your thinking, the more you share about your challenges, the better off you’ll be.
Have you been in a peer group and tips to share? Post them in the comments.