What do you think stops you from taking your business to the next level?

Is it the daily demands of one crisis after another? The lack of cash to grow your business? A hyper-competitive industry?

For many entrepreneurs the real answer is isolation.

In fact, one of the most commonly overlooked business success factors is your peer group.

While most of us have people who work for us, we still feel isolated in our business lives. We shield our teams from our doubts and as a result we drain our energy keeping up a positive and "inspirational" front. (After all, we've learned that when we overshare, we're often planting the seeds of future problems.)

This causes often causes us to struggle, doing too much on our own, disconnected from outside, objective feedback and strong support structures that we could otherwise tap into to get the perspective, help, and accountability we need to successfully scale our companies.

When I look back at my biggest business breakthroughs, they almost all share the common thread of an outside third party whom I respected greatly sharing insight, confirmation, affirmation, or aspiration that pushed me to take a major leap forward in my business. These breakthroughs were a magnitude more and better than I could have managed on my own.

Take the example of Marc, owner of a $37 million per year home building company. A one hour phone conversation he had with one of his business mentors gave him the kernel of an idea to solve his capital raising challenge on a long term basis.

Or Dr. Challa, owner of a $12 million per year medical group. Regular accountability calls with his business coach helped him enroll his key team in the systematization of his entire practice, improving his business's performance and stability.

Or Randy, who owner of a $5 million per year investment company. Two years ago at a business owner conference he gained an idea on how to strictly limit his liablity on his multi-million loans. Today, 24 months later, he's significantly capped his personal guarantees and has grown his company by over 30% at the same time.

The essential message of this article is that doing things on your own isn't only the hardest path to take, it tends to be the slowest, most expensive, and most painful route of all. Alone you are vulnerable, but connected with the right peer group and advisor team, you can enjoy the level of success you've always wanted.

Here are 8 ways for you to upgrade your peer group and reach your business goals much faster than you could ever do solo.

  1. Get involved with a local trade association, business owner group, or networking group. This could be your local Chamber of Commerce, a local networking group, or the local chapter of a national trade association. The key is to become involved networking with other business owners who want to learn, grow, and expand their business visions.
  2. Once involved with these business groups, look for like-minded business owners you resonate with. Remember, character and habitual behaviors are contagious, so be deliberate whose character and habits you catch.
  3. Attend business owner workshops and events. Not only will you get to network with an upgraded peer group of successful entrepreneurs, but you'll gain fresh insights from the panelists and speakers as well.
  4. Cultivate the mentors and advisor team to give you objective feedback. This could be local business owners you informally cultivate to work with you, or it could be a structured program that you invest in and formally join.
  5. Hire a business coach. Yes this is an investment, but top performing entrepreneurs, like top performing athletes, regularly have coaches with whom they develop a long-standing relationship. Often your coach can challenge you with perspectives that your employees and friends can't.
  6. Get involved with a charity organization that both speaks to your heart and puts you next to other business owners. This helps you build relationships and meet people who share your values of service and contribution.
  7. Form your own "mastermind group". A mastermind group is a private group, typically of 5-8 business owners, who meet regularly to support, encourage, and challenge each other to succeed in their respective goals. With a clear set of standards, yet with a fluid structure, the group gives you fresh ideas, clean insights, and strong accountability.
  8. Form a formal "Board of Directors" or informal "Board of Advisors". You'd be surprised at how easy this is to do when you make the decision. List out the 12 entrepreneurs you'd most like to be on your advisory team and reach out to them about what this would look like for them. Generally the key areas of concern for them will be limiting the scope of time it will take them and whether or not you'll take action on the input they give you. As for compensation, many of them will help (assuming the time commitment is small) without compensation as a way of "paying it forward." If you do go the route of a formal board, compensation there can include a small stipend for each board meeting plus even potentially the small grant of stock or stock options in the business.

For more ideas on growing your business, including a free tool kit with 21 in-depth video trainings to help you scale your business and get your life back, click here.