This week I have been lucky enough to meet a number of dynamic new people that I am happy to have added to my personal and professional network, and I am very thankful for the opportunity to have met them, learn about their businesses and challenges, and hopefully help them in some way to achieve a greater level of success.
But it also occurred to me that it is as a result of my being open to listen to their comments, accept their criticisms, and make my own commitments to them that I am finding such early success with the launch of Key Consulting.
I am surprised every day as I go out and meet with business owners and leaders how many people work as a team of one, whether as an Entrepreneur or in a career position. Unfortunately these people never achieve the level of success that they are dreaming of and they never achieve those ‘big goals’ that they seem to set for themselves every year but always come up just short.
Whether you are talking about your own business, your professional development in a career position, or even just your own personal development and network of friends, it is vital to understandt he power of your advisors in your ability to achieve success.
Advisors in Business
As a small business owner, many people isolate themselves in the operation of their business rather than openly discussing their challenges and issues with colleagues. It is seen as weak to admit that you are struggling with cash flow or to open up about the difficulty you are having in attracting new customers. Perhaps you are worried that by discussing these issues with the people in your regular networking circles that you may be unnecessarily limiting the number of referrals you can expect to receive if your colleagues do come across someone who needs your services. (If they are struggling with cash flow then I don’t want to send my trusted friend to them – they might not be in business next week!).
The reality is however, that most small business owners (and business people in general) can’t be everything to their business if they want to achieve the highest level of success that is possible. You can’t possibly be an expert in accounting, business law, human resources, marketing, sales, operations, and whatever your individual company competitive advantage is all at the same time regardless of your makeup. The bottom line is we are better at some things than others and it is in your best interest to assemble a team around you that can help where you aren’t as strong.
A circle of advisors can take many forms:
- Formal Business Relationships
You probably have a lawyer and an accountant (and if you’re smart a financial advisor and insurance advisor) that you do business with on a regular basis. These people are advisors to you in your business in their specific areas of expertise and probably provide specific services at specific times to fulfill your specific needs.
- Business Networks
These are people that you see and talk to at semi-regular intervals at networking meetings, Chamber events, or other community foundation events. While much of your conversation will likely be focused on how you can help them to build their business (that is if you are an effective networker) you will likely also find an opportunity to reach through them to find new formal business relationships that you may be lacking.
Your employees are an underappreciated group of advisors that are usually very in touch with the things that might not be quite right with your organization (but may not be willing to actively seek you out to tell you about it). Your employees are generally going to be closer to the action than you are, having more day-to-day contact with your average customer. Listening to them can be a key to catching the ‘little things’ early in order to minimize the big headaches down the road.
- Mastermind Groups
A concept pioneered by Ben Franklin and more recently appreciated by Napoleon Hill (“mastermind alliance”), Mastermind Groups are formal groups of like minded individuals that work together to serve as advisors to each other, to hold each other to their commitments, and to support each other as they build and grow in their businesses. Unlike a traditional networking group, mastermind groups are commonly facilitated events in which the members will openly challenge each others assumptions, press each other to set aggressive goals, and then hold each other to those commitments at the next mastermind meeting.
Advisors in Life
Interestingly we have a similar group of people that will often advise us in our personal life (although I don’t think many of us think of it in the form of a ‘circle of advisors’).
- Our Spouse or Family
The power of family and the close connection with the personal lives of those around you has significant power over our own behaviours, goals, and the achievement of those goals. The support, advice, and constructive criticism we receive every day from our closest family members can be a key leg to our own growth as people in society.
- Our Friends
Like our family, by being open to listening to the comments and input of our friends, we can identify those things in our personalities or habits that may need work. Friends are sometimes even more candid than family in their assessments of our personal habits and it is in our best interests to keep our ears open in their presence.
- Our Employers
Believe me, your boss (if they are worth working for) won’t hesitate to let you know when your personal behaviour is affecting your ability to perform. Perhaps you have difficulty listening (or tend to dominate a conversation in a verbose manner like I do), perhaps you have difficulty seeing the forest through the trees. Either way you’ll be amazed at how much great advice you can get from your boss that applies in your personal life.
Connecting the Dots
It wasn’t until a discussion that I had earlier today, however that I put all these pieces together to connect the true power of your advisors. It is the power of connection and collaboration that can take a circle of advisors and give them the power to truly empower you in your personal and professional life.
If your accountant and lawyer are working in isolation and don’t understand the purpose for your requests, or worse yet are working on your independent requests to them that ultimately work against you when taken together then you aren’t really making use of the power of your circle. If instead you bring your lawyer, your accountant, and your financial planner and insurance advisor into the same discussion they and work together to identify the overall goal, provide you advice across the spectrum of their services, and provide you with a solution that uniquely fits your specific requirements.
It is this collaboration that makes me such a fan of ‘Mastermind Groups’. By working together with a small and trusted group of people with similar interests and goals you will find that you will get as many different perspectives and opinions as there are members, but you will also get a much broader perspective of a problem or issue than you could ever get trying to work through it by yourself in your team of one.
We are currently forming our first Key Consulting Mastermind Group for existing small business owners and will be forming a new group for new business owners within the next 4-6 weeks. We are limiting membership to each group 6-8 members and we will ensure that there are no competing businesses within any single group for confidentiality reasons. These groups will meet monthly in a boardroom setting and Key Consulting will act as the facilitator of the meetings rather than as an active advisory in the group. There is a fee associated with membership to the Mastermind Groups.
If you are interested in joining one of the Key Consulting Mastermind Groups I would invite you to contact us today. If you have other advice or ideas (or perhaps even personal anecdotes showing the power of a connected circle of advisors) I’d love to hear about them. Feel free to comment and share below.
Tim Empringham, MBA
Tim Empringham is a passionate advocate for Innovation in organizations of all sizes as a mechanism to drive growth, create uncontested market space, create new customer value, and drive efficiency into the internal organization. His focus is on disruption of thinking and markets through integrative thinking, structured Innovation frameworks, and leadership development of Innovation and Change leaders within the organization.