Every business owner, whether they're a franchisee or a small business owner, have similar struggles with the operations of their company. How do I attract and retain the best employees? Who can I use to manage my payroll? Where do I find the best resources for my business? For these questions and more, business owners turn to peer councils.
What is a peer council? A peer council is a group that comes together to discuss issues and help one another find solutions that work for their business. There are three types of peer councils:
- Geographically-centered – different industries within a defined location
- Industry-centered – owners work in the same industry, but in different locations (to avoid direct competition)
- Specialty-centered – a group of like-minded owners, as it applies to values, beliefs or challenges
Although the groups may have different requirements, the one consistent factor is that they are comprised of entrepreneurs. And those who experience success do so because of their innovative thinking and out-of-the-box actions.
Peer councils aren’t a new concept. The origins of these type of groups can be traced to Ancient Greece and Socrates, known as one of the founders of Western philosophy. Throughout the years, similar groups have sprung up. During his time in Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin started the Junto Club (aka the Leather Apron Club) which was a “club for mutual improvement”. A group of his peers and fellow tradesmen would gather and discuss core values, politics, philosophy, and of course matters of business.
Every peer council holds regular meetings with experts committed to joining in to discuss challenges and solutions to the challenges in a business. The group has a facilitator, like Mark Sinkow, the “Chief Sherpa” of SYNCH-O LLC, who leads the discussions. It is important to note that the role of a peer council isn’t to solve an individual member’s problems, but rather offer ideas to help them formulate a solution that works for their business. And the role of the facilitator is to guide the conversation and offer thoughtful content.
So, where does one go to locate a peer council? There are several national organizations that can help you locate the right group. Two of the more recognized groups, Vistage and The Alternative Board have been helping the small business owners for many years. Both companies are far-reaching, with locations in the United States and around the world.
But, for many, the allure of a local peer council organization offers a great opportunity to learn from others who not only share their passion for business, but understand the issues that come with their particular region. These groups can be found by doing an internet search, through the local Chamber of Commerce, and even word of mouth.
SYNCH-O-LLC, located in the Philadelphia suburbs, focuses on peer councils in the Pennsylvania/New Jersey/Delaware region. Their success comes not only from being a regional resource, but largely due to Mark’s role as facilitator.
Mark says, “In business 70% of what we do is the same, sales/marketing, finance/accounting, and operations. The remaining 30% is what makes us unique. By sitting in a room with up to 15 other business owners we are able to share our experience, learn from one another while holding one another accountable resulting in making better quicker decisions becoming better leaders with better results.”