The Value of Peer Groups: Helping Us to Work On Our Business And Not Merely In It

Most of us who have been in business for a while balance the challenge of “working on our business” with working “in” it.

They are two very different skill sets. In the process of working “in” our businesses, we may do everything from helping close an important sale to managing employees, and processing tons of paperwork or electronic correspondence. But, while said activities are important to keep the business moving forward, they don’t help us take those all important steps needed to advance our businesses to that much-discussed “next level.”

Whether you work with a business coach or just have a group of peers you meet with to kick around ideas, you’ll typically leave settings like these with a directive: set aside time, as the business owner, to strategize, plan and execute on your vision. Where do you want your business to go? And how will you get there?

One effective strategy for me has been to be part of a very strong, solid industry peer group. The one I belong to is called Select Dealer Group.  It is comprised of about 35 office equipment/product dealers from across the U.S.; we meet three times a year at different locations to benchmark best practices and have some very good, meaningful discussions … as well as getting the pulse on what’s new in the industry. Often times, our meetings will include an educational component as well as a speaker with some relevance for our industry.

It works really well  because there’s really no one better to share your business concerns with than someone who is in a similar industry and may have some very practical understanding of what you’re going through because they’ve “been there and done that.”

Peers are great for helping us to see solutions to problems that might otherwise escape us. I find the concept of working with people in the same or a similar industry who pose no competitive threat to be great listeners and advisors.

Whether your specialty is IT, or you deal more with the managed print services arena, it’s worth scouting out a solid peer group to help you take stock of where your business plan is, to help you set  some goals to advance it, and then, of course, to hold you accountable for taking the necessary steps to make it happen.

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Ray Belanger is CEO of Bay Copy, located in Rockland, MA and serving the region since 1972.