Got a Problem? Ask Another Business Owner

When we announced the finalists of the Best Practice Awards, an interesting thing happened: We started hearing from peer advisory group leaders that several of the finalists were participants in their groups. A coincidence? Hardly. The more we thought about this, the less we were surprised. Larger businesses can seek advice and ideas from their staff of executives, their board of directors and bigtime consultants. Small business owners have a few executives, at best, with whom they can discuss decisions and drum up new ideas. Plus we’re not usually sitting in corner offices contemplating business strategy; most of us are putting out fires much of the time. It’s no wonder we get bogged down in the day-to-day and sometimes have trouble looking at the big picture.

While it is common to get caught in the trap of feeling as if we need to come up with all the good ideas ourselves (a.k.a. the small business hero complex), that’s not really the name of the game. Success, however you define it, is what you’re after, and success comes from better ideas and better execution. It doesn’t matter where those ideas come from, as long as they come and as long as we can execute. That is where peer advisory groups can help.

Peer groups are facilitated gatherings of business owners who help each other overcome challenges in a confidential setting. If a formal, facilitated group isn’t for you, another option is to get together with some other owners on a more informal basis. If you decide to go this route, try to set a few ground rules and an agenda to keep your discussions substantive.

We can’t promise you’ll make our list of Best Practice finalists if you join a peer group, be it formal or informal. But we can promise that you’ll have a chance to bounce ideas and issues off some of the best advisers out there: your fellow small business owners.