We hear a lot these days about think tanks. Ever consider one for your own business?
No business is too small to benefit from having its own sounding board . . . call it an Advisory Board, a Mastermind Group or a Success Team. Call it whatever you wish but understand that this concept can be a tremendous catalyst for growth.
Think about the last time you met with other business people and had an open discussion sharing your ideas and concerns about business challenges.
Why not form some type of informal advisory board that meets on a regular basis and serves as a sounding board and a source of ideas and honest advice focused on just your business?
Your first question might be_Where would I find such people? Look around. There are many retired executives and managers who might have interest.
Other business owners and managers or vendors may be an additional resource. Aim high. Choose people you admire, not those who are likely to only tell you what you want to hear.
What harm is there in asking? You just might be pleasantly surprised when they accept. If you do not ask, no one is going to tell.
Three people will do nicely for most small businesses. Set up a QUARTERLY meeting to discuss and advise.
Hold your advisory meeting in an upscale restaurant that can provide a quiet room or area. Prepare a simple agenda that your advisory members receive ahead of time. Keep your agenda simple and focused.
Here is the real key: be prepared to be open and frank. Share both your hopes and your dreams. If you gloss over your real problems, you will not accomplish much more than picking up the tab for a $15 lunch times three.
The flip side is that you may well get some super ideas for less than $100 . . . and that, my friend, is a true bargain.
Here is the second key: learn to LISTEN. You will be surprised, even amazed, at how much you can learn from others who have already been there and done that. Trust me, your problems and challenges are rarely unique.
Shoot to inject some fun into your work a day world. I know that doing so is not easy when you are up to your armpits in alligators, but if you are not having some fun, the whole project may well become stale and morph into too much work.
An anonymous quote often surfaces in running a small business_Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we are here we should dance!
Open your mind and let some fresh perspectives flow in. Innovative ideas will rarely come from your employees and close friends. They will be more apt to tell you what you want to hear and that may be a waste of your time and theirs.
Be very careful of casual advice. Most of the time, this kind of input can be worse than none at all. The pull in discussing business potholes is almost always to dwell on the negative.
An outside advisory group can be a tremendous help in steering through troubled waters and helping to see light at the end of your private tunnel.
The beauty of a peer advisory group is that your advisors will generally raise the bar by challenging you to create and implement worthwhile goals, brainstorm ideas and do all of this with total honesty, respect and compassion.
This concept can enhance not only your business but also your life.
Everyone these days seems to be looking for silver bullets and rarely finding them. In this fast paced world, the smart money reaches for the classics.
Read_Think and Grow Rich_by Napoleon Hill (1883-1970). This book clearly identifies the MASTER MIND concept. In addition, you will pick up a whole new perspective on running your small business.
Bob Schumacher books and articles give entrepreneurs a clear coffee-shop English perspective on how to steer their business or profession into the top 20% who achieve 80% of the business and profits. Visit http://www.20do80.com for a complete directory of his articles and books.