Let me share my definition of a peer group: “a group of business owners who have similar values and gather together to better their businesses and to share their expertise. The string that binds the group together is the leader that provides continuity and direction. “ Peer groups are not networking groups.
Peer groups can have different participants. I was invited to attend such a meeting in Los Angeles. It was made up of owners of identical businesses. They met once a month for three hours and discussed issues that were common to all. During the meeting, competition was forgotten as their goal was not only to gain from each other’s experience but to also raise the image of the particular business in the community. It was an invitation-only group with a mentor who kept the meeting on track and handled the issues that needed to be discussed at the meeting. The dues for this group were very small as they only had to cover the expenses of their mentor. Other groups limit their participation so no two like businesses can become members.
Peer groups that are by “invitation only” last a much longer time than those that are open to all. The group I attended in Los Angeles was in its 12th year.
Peer groups need a leader. The selection process of the mentor/coach/facilitator is critical to the value that the participants derive. The “by invitation only” process requires an application and a vote by the existing members of the group. A person that is recommended to the group should not be aware of the nomination. The sponsoring member should present all the background information on the nominee, and at least a month should be given to the existing members to do their own due diligence. A unanimous vote is required for approval.
Confidentiality is the key to the monthly meetings. This will allow participants to share personal business issues that they may want to discuss. I recommend an agenda for the meetings which usually includes a 30 minute education session on a topic selected by the group and presented by an expert in the field. I have developed an agenda that I recommend for the peer group meetings.
Over the years I have shared, in my blogs, the benefits of belonging to a peer group. It is not hard for us to help you start such a group; it usually takes about three months until a compatible group is assembled. I recommend that the group size not exceed 18 members and that attendance at monthly meetings is a requirement for maintaining membership. Be careful of offers to join a group that has no membership requirements and has high entrance fees and high ongoing fees.
I am available to visit and explain the benefits of peer groups and to help in establishing a new one.
When you make a commitment, you create hope. When you keep a commitment you create trust.