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Who Holds You Accountable in Your Business?

There is no end to articles, webinars, blog posts (even my own) that talk about accountability, what it consists of, how to make it work, etc. But, at the end of the day, who holds you accountable?  Probably just the person looking back at you in the mirror.
And how honest are you with that person?
If you’re like most small business owners, it depends on the day you ask and what you ask about. Because, as a recovering small business owner, I know that as a group, we’re not very honest with ourselves.  Especially when things “go south,” as they periodically do.  Then, invariably, we’re looking for someone to blame.  That is, anyone but the person in the mirror!
Well, what if there was actually a group of your peers, who were not competitors, that you could meet with periodically, to exchange ideas and talk about issues as a sounding board.   Who would call BS when you were just blowing smoke at yourself.  Or tell that what you were doing was sounding like a bad idea.
Do you have anybody around you like that?  Your board of directors or advisors, if you have either?  Nah, most of them are too far removed from the business to really help. Your management team?  Nope.   Most of them will just tell you what you want to hear.  You need independence.  Somebody without an agenda.
So how do you make this happen? What are your choices?
What we are talking about here are known as “peer to peer advisory groups,” which can operate as roundtables, mastermind groups, etc.  There are about a dozen different choices out there with a myriad of price ranges, and they are almost different in every market.  We’re not talking about your local BNI or networking groups that major in passing business cards and minor in business.  Something with structure and a purpose to help each other with similar problems in different, non-competitive businesses.
With that said, let me give you some broad criteria that should be present in any “peer to peer advisory group” that you consider.  Here’s a shortlist of criteria that should be present in any group you join, but it also comes down to  - “you get out of it, what you put into it”:
  • Members should be segmented by size and geography and include no directly competing peers, vendor/client relationships, or conflicts of interest. 
  • Commitment to the group is critical. Beyond making membership payments, the group has to demand regular participation. This is the only way members and the overall group receives a real benefit. 
  • Maximum confidentiality has to be ensured. What’s said in the group stays in the group.
  • The group has to encourage a spirit of collaboration and maintain positive group dynamics, even if that means getting rid of members who are negatively influencing the group.
  • Be sure there is an experienced facilitator who is there to “keep the trains running,” not show how smart they are, or worse, are soliciting business. In fact, good organizations provide direct solicitation. Further, an experienced moderator doesn’t just help group sessions be more productive and efficient but can also coach during the sessions.
 Ultimately, the goal of any successful peer group should be to foster a trusted and safe environment so that everyone in the group has the opportunity to share, learn and grow.
It’s lonely at the top.  But, there’s nothing like a peer-to-peer advisory group to help you see your business through the lens of other business owners.  They’ve walked in your shoes and may have solved the same problems you face.   But, as important, they can help hold that person in the mirror accountable.
“The Entrepreneur’s Yoda” knows these things.  He’s been there.  May success be with you!



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