The Power of Peer Groups
Most shop owners share the same story – they were good at what they did, and one day woke up running a business and leading a team of employees without any idea what that really meant. So they struggle with sales, marketing, HR, finance, training, service delivery, management, etc.
But the key thing about peer groups is that we all wind up helping each other build their business acumen and skillset. No one has time to do that on their own – they are all working IN their business rather than ON it. Time is money, and most people running a business feel that making money directly through billing their customers is far more important than making money by running their business. After all – they hire people to do that don’t they?
Actually, some business owners do hire people to do that, and then expect them to figure out what “that” is by means of some sort of osmosis. No one takes time to define what the business is. No one tells them how to use the systems that are there. There are few if any written policies or procedures or processes. It should just “work” because the owner spent a few bucks hiring someone to do “that.” Owners don’t have time to be bogged down with the details – they are billing and making money.
But this model doesn’t work. If the owner doesn’t lead, there will be nothing to follow, and the people that were hired will totally miss the goal that the owners never shared in the first place. Why do we do that? Why do we think that people can read our minds and just figure it out? They can’t, they don’t, they won’t. The way information like that is transferred is called communication.
If you feel like I am talking to you specifically – I am. You have problems and you need help. That is why peer group meetings are so successful. We all need each other. We need to share our issues and learn from folks who have been there and done that before. There is no reason for each of us to make every mistake on our own. Gathering in a safe community to share and learn is a shortcut. It takes us to success faster and with less pain than going it alone. So many small businesses fail without ever discovering the power of their peers. So many focus on running their business in secret, so a competitor doesn’t figure out what is going on. Hello – have you seen the Internet? In 15 minutes it is pretty easy to get most of the information your competitor cares about. And a few bucks and hours spent with a former employee can give them the rest. Competition is a reality in business. Get over it and get on with learning from peers.
If you believe for a minute that you have some secret sauce, you are delusional. There is someone out there doing it faster, cheaper, and better than you. If not today, then watch over your shoulder because they are rapidly approaching. So quit worrying about protecting what you believe you have and start focusing on what matters – building and growing your business faster, better, and cheaper than the competition. That is the secret sauce. Learn to leverage the power of peers to get to the new things that are going to change your world faster – technologies, methods, tools, services etc. I believe competitive advantage is most significant when it affects how the business is operated – not what the business does. Those are the things that really matter.