Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Power of Peers

This is the final post based on the keynote I delivered at the Ingram SMBA in Charlotte in late August. The topic covers the impact of being involved with peers in growing your business and driving growth and success.

We engage other companies in the channel

The first step in getting value out of peer groups is to start. So often I hear interest, but am always amazed at how few actually do something with that interest, even as simple as going to the website to fill out the short application for HTG. That seems to be the norm with many partners in the IT channel. I hear it often when speaking to vendors. Hundreds drop by their booth and talk about getting started in a relationship only to never hear from them again. The world is run by people who actually show up and do something with their ideas. Those are the successful business owners. That is one of the key values of peers - you get engaged and are continually pushed to not only continue but raise the level of engagement.

We share and give openly

Peer groups are based on the Go-Giver model. It is not about me, but about the others in my group and sharing what I have with them. The more I invest in and share with others - the more I will recieve as part of the experience. In HTG we use the SWIPE model - Share With Intent and Purpose Everyday! It is not about what you can take, it is about what you can give. He who gives the most will ultimately win.

We ask for help when we need it

There is a very common misconception among many business owners - that asking for help is a sign of weakness and should never be done. Nothing could be further from the truth. The more mature a business becomes, the more that leadership team realizes that they don't have all the answers and it is much faster to learn from someone who has figured it out or been there and done that than have to make each mistake or learning on their own. Asking for help and learning from peers is a sign of maturity rather than weakness. So often business owners get into the "can't see the forest for the trees" situation. They are so close to the problem and have experienced it for so long they can't see it clearly and determine a new course of action. Bringing in some fresh eyes with different perspective can often take a problem that has plagued a business for many years and provide a solution very quickly. In HTG we use the SWOT process and take a team of peers onsite to help business owners identify and resolve business problems. But the key - you have to ask.

We share our financials openly

My how this seems to get some excited. There are a variety of thoughts around the sharing of financials and open book accounting - but for peers to make a difference they have to have transparency and access to the real information. That means opening the kimono and letting them see how things really are. The numbers are the numbers. If they are good, they are something to be learned from. If they are bad, they provide important information that can help turn things around. But without them, little can be done to really effectively make a difference in a company. In HTG we use Service Leadership's benchmarking tools to help us report and evaluate our financials. It is a critical tool in our program to help us evaluate our status.

We plan together around business and life

I have written much around this topic, and it is definitely core to the value of peers. Part of the process of planning needs to include having others review and comment on the roadmap you have laid out. In HTG we focus on four plans - business, leadership, life and legacy - and you can read about them in older posts on this blog. But the key is to use peers to evaluate the direction and destination you are heading and make sure it aligns with your stated objectives. You also want feedback on whether the steps you have identified as your action plan and strategies will actually get you there. Without solid planning - you can end up somewhere other than where you intended to go.

We execute together

Execution is the achilles heal for most of us that own a small business. It is not that we don't know what to do, we simply choose not to do it. Having a set of peers that will help drive you toward execution is critical. HTG has a goal of driving business and personal growth through execution. We know that by helping our members execute - we will help them move toward success.

We are accountable

Accountability is one of the misunderstood concepts in business today. It is not a matter of sitting back and waiting for someone to fail to achieve their goals so you can whack them upside the head and tell them to try harder. True accountability is when peers take each others goals on as their own, and when there is a struggle, they come alongside and help make sure each achieves the goals that have been set forth. That is the reality of what true accountabilty is. I am vested in and committed to helping others achieve success. When we do that - everyone wins.

There is no question that there is significant power in peers. It requires a deep commitment and a focus on others rather than self, but once that step is made and a person begins to invest in someone else, the good things begin and continue to make an impact for many years to come. HTG is looking for a few good partners who truly understand the value of peers. If you are looking to be involved in a life changing program, fill out the application and get involved today. Just remember that nothing changes until you actually do something. Thinking about it doesn't cut it!

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