Over the last 25 years, I have worked with and coached thousands of business owners to help them grow and scale their businesses. I have helped entrepreneurs, just like you, learn how to systemize their growth, take control of their finances, make smarter business decisions and hire more efficiently. But all of that pales in comparison to the biggest growth accelerator of all - finding a peer group. 

Owning a business is one of the loneliest professions out there. We shield our teams from our worries and as a result we drain our energy keeping up a positive and "inspirational" front. Do that over the course of five or ten years, and it's no wonder that so many business owners experience high levels of anxiety and burnout. Causing us to struggle, doing too much on our own, disconnecting 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.

So my biggest tip to growing your business has to do with finding a peer group to share your victories and struggles with. So, today I wanted to share with you some tips on how to find the right group for your needs. 

  1. 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. There are thousands of events like this across the country, and you should be able to find one that works for you needs and niche. 

  2. 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 in networking with other business owners who want to learn, grow, and expand their business visions. As a business coach, I learned early on that giving our clients the opportunity to connect multiple times a year in person and online made a huge difference in not only their feeling of isolation but the rate in which they were able to grow. 

  3. Hire a business coach. 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 and give you a platform to bounce ideas off of and share your victories and struggles with. 

  4. Form your own "mastermind group".  Tried the first three ideas and still struggle to find a peer group. Try putting together your own mastermind group. A mastermind group typically consists 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 can give you fresh ideas, clean insights, and strong accountability.

  5. Form a formal "Board of Directors" or informal "Board of Advisors". This last tip is one that I do myself, and has made a world of difference in my own business journey. 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 and get clear on a plan of attack moving forward. 

You don't have to go on your business journey alone, and with the right people beside you, the journey will be much more enjoyable (and profitable!) 

Published on: Dec 31, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.