10 Reasons Why Leading Entrepreneurs Join a Peer Advisory Board

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Being an entrepreneur is an amazing experience. You get to see your ideas come to life and build a business of your own. Many business owners feel isolated. You are not always surrounded with people who can help you solve problems or share your ideas, unlike being in the workforce. The reality is that entrepreneurs are surrounded by people, such as family or friends, who don’t always understand their challenges.

It’s lonely up there. There are certain things that you, as an entrepreneur can’t or won’t talk to your employees, partners, or family about. You just want unbiased advice (in other words you don’t want to just Google it). You don’t need to pay a high-priced consultant. You want real-world experience. So where can you go?

When I first got into business in 1999, a business owner friend encouraged me to join a peer advisory board. These boards (also referred to as business owner advisory boards or mastermind groups) are a group of peers from non-competing organizations. They meet to exchange ideas, advice, and insights. It’s a great way for executive boards to increase their collective knowledge and expertise without having to pay an executive board. It was one of my best decisions.

Over the next ten years, I was supported and guided by other business leaders as my business faced many opportunities and challenges. Since 2012, I’ve been running peer boards to help connect and support other entrepreneurs. Here are 10 reasons why leading entrepreneurs choose to join peer advisory boards and why you should as well.

1. Ability to get advice in a safe environment

There is fierce competition. Small business owners often have to operate in a vacuum to avoid sharing information that could be leveraged by their competitors. This leaves us all to our own devices, no matter how good or poor our decisions are. Peer advisory boards provide a safe space for you to share your challenges and risks with others in your industry without fear of ridicule or rejection. Your advisory board members will likely be from outside or unfamiliar industries so their advice is more objective.

Related: The Positives of Peer Pressure

2. Non-financial benefits

Most people join a peer advisory panel to help grow their business and increase profits. There are many benefits to a peer advisory board beyond the financial. Because you share the same interests as you, you can expect to form a bond with your peers. Your peers will also be able share non-business advice such as how they balance work and personal lives.

A peer advisory group can also provide the motivation you need to aggressively pursue your business goals. When you work alone, it can be easy for you to lose steam and become disengaged. It’s unlikely that your employees will have the same drive and motivations as you.

3. Opportunity to give back

Peer advisory boards offer two-way benefits. You’ll not only get guidance and feedback on your business, but you can also share your experiences with others. A business owner cannot be an expert in everything. Peer advisory boards allow each member to highlight their strengths for the benefit of the whole group.

4. Improve your leadership skills

Unfortunately many entrepreneurs have a blind spot in developing leadership skills. It can be difficult to assess yourself, and even employees aren’t always honest. Your peer advisory board facilitator and your peers will help you identify weaknesses in your leadership style. They will also recommend mentorships, coaching, and other training to help you become a better leader.

5. Avoid costly mistakes

As a business proprietor, you will make many mistakes. This is normal and a great way for you to learn. It’s easier and more cost-effective to learn from others’ mistakes. You will learn from other business leaders the pitfalls they faced and how to avoid them.

6. Understand the basics

Many small businesses can have a great product idea or service and jump into the business. This is the great thing about entrepreneurship. It can also be a challenge for business owners to learn the basics while they go. This means many business owners lack the necessary foundational skills to run a business effectively. A peer advisory board can help you identify the basic skills that you need to be a more successful entrepreneur.

7. Switch from reactive to proactive

Being an entrepreneur is similar to being a firefighter. It is your responsibility to put out all fires that may arise. Your business’s last line of defense is you. Peer advice boards can help you to focus more on preventing problems than spending your time dealing them. It can help you to be more proactive in chasing leads and establishing repeatable and stable business processes. You can also avoid employee turnover issues by being more proactive.

8. Helps to avoid tunnel vision

As entrepreneurs and business owners, we tend to operate within our own world. It can be motivating to surround yourself with people who agree with your views, such as your team. It’s important to hear other viewpoints. Peer advisory boards can help you to think of alternative solutions or ideas that you might not have thought of on your own.

9. Accountability

One study found that people who have someone to keep them accountable for completing their goals will complete them successfully 95 percent of the time. A peer advisory board can help create a sense of accountability. The peer advisory board will help you stay on track by sharing your goals with others. You can also help other members by holding them accountable.

Related: How Peer Advisory Groups Inspire Leaders to Be Accountable

10. Access to new opportunities and friendships

Being a member of a peer advisory panel gives you the opportunity to make lifelong friendships with like-minded people. These connections will prove invaluable in helping you grow and develop your business. They may also help you to explore new industries and directions that you haven’t considered before. You may be able to collaborate on ventures or projects with other members in your peer group.

Related: Look to Peer Mentoring Groups for Ideas, Support and Tough Love

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