As the CEO of a small to mid-sized business, sometimes it seems that no one else can truly understand the challenges and decisions you face every day. In our experience, the most successful business leaders are the ones who build, and consult regularly, a network of confidential advisors.
Traditionally, the circle of “trusted advisors” to small business leaders is made up of CPA’s, lawyers, and bankers. While certainly qualified to give you expert and objective advice, these individuals will obviously focus primarily on their specific areas of expertise. And, of course, they often charge for their services. So, while we don’t discount their importance, we believe that savvy business owners need to expand their network of advisors.
Another avenue for consultation is industry groups, and their related publications, surveys, and services. These trade associations are a good way to stay abreast of industry trends and to get an idea from your competitors and associates of what is working, and what is not, within your industry. However, sometimes these groups can not see the forest for the trees because everyone is looking at the challenges from the same vantage point – the “groupthink” phenomenon. Again, we aren’t discounting the importance of industry associations; we just believe that you need to broaden your avenues for advice.
One idea that has been around for quite a while is CEO Roundtables. These can take many forms, but we strongly believe that a non-competitive, cross-industry, truly peer-based, confidential CEO group is an invaluable source of feedback and advice as you face the daily challenges of running your business. There are a host of roundtables available, with differing costs, time commitments, and levels of formality. Like anything else, you have to find one which suits your style and personality, as well as your ability to commit time on a recurring basis. And, don’t give up. If the first one you try doesn’t fit, look for another. However, we suggest that you don’t give up on a group until you have attended at least five or six meetings.
However you decide to expand your network, don’t delay. You don’t have to go it alone and, in fact, your business will benefit if you don’t. There are many options available to you including the group which YPP is the founding sponsor, Central Coast CEO Roundtables, and which we are expanding to the San Francisco Bay Area. Take a look and see if we might be a fit for you.