“What is a peer group and ‘What’s in it for me?’” The concept of business owners sharing confidential business information with one another and openly disclosing their ideas to others within the same industry may at first sound foreign.
It’s something that can take getting used to, but for the majority of those who have experienced a peer group it is something they wish they had discovered sooner. Far from being the risky venture it may sound like on the surface, joining a peer group instead provides members with a great deal of security.
Reducing the sense of isolation and loneliness that can felt by many who sit atop an org chart is one of the most appreciated benefits of peer group membership. All of the sudden a company CEO or president realizes that they are part of a community with others who share their same frustrations and joys.
Don't re-invent the wheel
They have a group of like-minded businesspeople with whom to celebrate successes, learn from failures, and navigate dilemmas. Finally, they are able to talk to another business owner who understands. Often in meetings someone will find others who have already “been there, done that” and can provide insight or questions to prompt further thought. It saves people from re-inventing the wheel and from needing to personally experience every mistake in order to learn. They learn from one another’s victories and bad decisions.
Perpective on your business performance
A second benefit to taking part in a peer group that is industry-specific is being able to benchmark one’s own company and compare with others in the same field, while simultaneously learning how to close the performance gap. Professional facilitators and staff guide members in learning business/industry specific content together and applying that content to their own businesses.
Accountability and performance
Peer group membership helps individuals to raise their own level of execution as other participants hold them accountable to set and reach regular goals. Mature groups have shared agreement that each member wants the best for the others and that no one wants to stay stagnant. They push one another in a healthy way to learn and develop as leaders and to grow in their understanding and guidance of their companies. It is positive peer pressure at its best, as no one wants to stand up in front of 11 other business owners and explain that they did not execute on what they said they would do.
The real question is: does it work? And the answer is “yes!” Since all HTG members input their financial data quarterly through or benchmarking partner Service Leadership, we have the data to show the impact (see chart). Revenue growth exceeds 30 percent and EBITA* is nearly 43 percent. Members’ participation in a strong framework that provides accountability and focus yields significant results.
As mentioned previously, groups provide members with trusted relationships with business peers. With widespread geographic diversity, groups are populated intentionally to avoid competitive conflict. Members feel free to share industry knowledge and proprietary business information without fear of a competitor down the street finding out the information. There is a shared moral code of honor among members in which participants understand that if they were to betray the trust of another member, they would quickly find themselves outside of the community.
The power of transparent honesty
The best peer groups are those who have matured to the level of being transparent during meetings. Rather than puffing out their chests and acting like they have it all together, each businessperson is able to enter a room of trusted peers and candidly share where they need help knowing that others will reciprocate with the same level of transparent honesty.
An unanticipated benefit that many experience in their peer group is the enriching deep and lasting business and personal relationships. In an era where online social networks and discussion boards sometimes provide a shallow interactive experience, peer groups provide genuine business advisory groups in which members get to know one another professionally and personally.
However, it is not just about strong relationships with fellow business owners. One thing that HTG Peer Group members pride themselves on is learning not only to be leaders in their businesses but also learning how to be leaders at home. Marriages and friendships and parent-child relationships have also been strengthened through one participant in that relationship being part of a peer group.
If you’re ready to get your business running at top performance, gain control of your life, get some leadership lessons, and even establish some lifelong friendships, consider joining a peer group. HTG is always welcome to new members. Learn more at www.htgpeergroups.com. Better yet, come see me at the Datto Partner Conference this June 3-6 in Vegas where I’m running a session.
Arlin Sorensen, is founder and CEO of HTG.