If you’re thinking about joining a peer advisory group so you can overcome your biggest challenges and take your business to the next level, you should know they’re not all created equal. While joining a peer advisory board can be transformative business owners, you won’t reap the full benefits unless you join the right group.
Here are some of the most important things I’d recommend looking for when choosing a peer advisory group.
How to Choose the Best Peer Advisory Group
1. Consider Your Needs
When you’re looking for a peer advisory group, it’s crucial to start by assessing your own needs and objectives.
Ask yourself what you hope to gain from the experience.
Are you looking for strategic advice to scale your business?
Do you need support navigating specific challenges like marketing, operations, or finance?
Or are you just trying to find a sounding board for new ideas and feedback on your business model?
You also want to consider the size of your business to make sure the advisory group you choose is set up to accommodate you.
Understanding your primary goals and unique needs will help you find a group that aligns with your specific needs, ensuring you find a community where you can both contribute and benefit meaningfully.
2. Look for a Group with Entrepreneurs Near Your Level
I always recommend joining a peer advisory board with members who are around or even slightly above your own business level. This ensures that the advice and experiences shared are relevant and applicable to your current challenges and goals.
A group of peers operating within a similar scope or facing comparable growth stages can provide insights that are immediately actionable.
Being in the company of entrepreneurs who are navigating similar paths can foster a more empathetic and supportive environment, where members genuinely understand each other’s struggles and victories.
For example, at Six Figure Dinners, we exclusively work with entrepreneurs whose businesses are in the $500,000 to $5 million annual revenue range. This means the entrepreneurs who are on a board aren’t just starting out, but they’re also not running massive corporations either. They’re all at roughly the same stage of their journey, so they can relate to one another and offer more useful insights and strategies.
This level of relatability enhances the value of the advice and support you receive, making your peer advisory experience more impactful.
3. Make Sure the Group Isn’t Too Big (or Too Small)
Peer advisory groups come in all sizes. You’ll see some groups made up of only 4 members, and others where the group has 12, 16, or even 20 members.
In my experience running peer advisory boards, I’ve come to truly believe that 8 is the magic number. At Six Figure Dinners, our peer groups are made up of 8 business owners plus a Board Chair who acts as a facilitator for the group.
Why do I feel that 8 is just right?
With 8 members, the group is large enough to ensure a diverse range of perspectives and experiences, yet small enough to allow for deep, meaningful interactions and discussions. Each member gets ample time to share and receive focused attention on their challenges, ensuring that no voice is lost in the crowd.
This size also fosters a sense of intimacy and trust, crucial for open and honest communication.
Managing logistics and scheduling becomes more feasible with a group this size, ensuring that meetings are productive and valuable for all members.
In my opinion, a group of 8 strikes the perfect balance between diversity and manageability, making it an ideal size for effective peer advisory.
4. Ensure You’re Getting Diverse Perspectives
To me, the best thing about joining a peer advisory board is that it can open the door to a wealth of diverse perspectives, improving your decision-making and strategic planning with insights you might not have considered otherwise…that is, if you choose a group that has members from diverse backgrounds and industries.
For any business owner, it’s natural to develop your own locked-in approach to problem-solving, honed through years of navigating the specific challenges of your industry. However, this can sometimes turn into tunnel vision, limiting your solutions to the scope of your own experiences and the conventional wisdom of your field.
The true value of a peer advisory board lies in its ability to break down these barriers.
By assembling a group of entrepreneurs from a variety of sectors and backgrounds, you’re exposed to a broad spectrum of strategies, viewpoints, and experiences. This diversity encourages you to think outside the box, offering solutions that are innovative and not just industry-specific but universally applicable.
I’ve seen firsthand how this exposure to different perspectives fosters creativity and innovation. It challenges you to reconsider your assumptions, to question the status quo of your industry, and to explore new possibilities.
The insights gained from peers in unrelated fields can often be adapted in surprising and highly effective ways to your own business, leading to breakthroughs that might never have been reached in isolation.
5. Confidentiality Matters
I can’t overstate the importance of making sure your peer group insists on confidentiality amongst its members. It’s absolutely essential to make certain that your advisory board is truly a safe space where members feel comfortable being vulnerable, sharing their most pressing issues, challenges, and strategic insights without fear of external judgment or repercussions.
This level of trust fosters an environment where open, honest dialogue can flourish, leading to more meaningful and impactful discussions.
Confidentiality within a peer advisory group not only protects sensitive information but also strengthens the bonds between members, creating a foundation of mutual respect and understanding.
A commitment to confidentiality also encourages members to open up and share their successes and failures alike, providing a comprehensive learning experience for the entire group. This openness leads to a more productive exchange of ideas, experiences, and strategies that can benefit all members, regardless of their industry or stage of business.
6. Ensure Your Group Won’t Have Competitors
The last thing you want in a peer advisory group is a competitor who’s potentially going to steal your ideas and strategies.
I believe that a well-structured peer advisory group should carefully select its members to avoid conflicts of interest and ensure that competitors are not placed within the same group. This will allow you to speak freely about your business challenges, strategies, and growth plans without the fear of giving away competitive advantages.
This setup encourages members to be more open and generous with their insights, knowing that the information shared will not be used against them in the marketplace.
It also enhances the quality of advice and support you receive, as members are more likely to provide genuine, unbiased feedback and solutions when they’re not competing for the same customers or market share.
7. Consider the Board Chair’s Qualifications
The Board Chair is the person who is leading your group, facilitating the discussions, and ensuring that each meeting is productive and valuable. Their qualifications, experience, and leadership style are crucial to the success of the group.
A qualified Board Chair should have a strong background in business, with a track record of success and a deep understanding of the challenges that entrepreneurs face.
They should also possess excellent facilitation skills, able to guide discussions in a way that ensures all members have their voices heard and can benefit from the collective wisdom of the group.
I believe the ideal Board Chair is someone who can provide not just facilitation, but also mentorship. They should be capable of offering insights and advice drawn from their own experiences, and be skilled at helping members apply the group’s collective insights to their individual situations.
Look for a Board Chair who is committed to the growth and success of each member, someone who is not just a moderator, but a valuable resource and mentor in their own right.
At Six Figure Dinners, we handpick our business consultants for their deep mentoring expertise. Each potential consultant is rigorously assessed through a comprehensive evaluation that includes detailed interviews and a hands-on training period of over six months under my guidance.
This meticulous process guarantees that they have both the knowledge and the soft skills required to provide meaningful guidance to our members.
8. Make Sure You Can Commit to the Peer Group’s Schedule
Finally, it’s important to make sure that the board you want to join actually fits into your schedule. Remember, this is a mutual commitment you’re making, and even though it only requires about 3-4 hours a month for board meetings and one-on-one meetings, those hours are crucial for the success and cohesion of the group.
Consistent participation is essential to building trust and ensuring that every member benefits fully from the collective wisdom and support the group offers.
Before joining, confirm that the meeting dates/times are manageable for you, and consider this commitment as integral to your business’s growth strategy.
Missing meetings not only hampers your progress but can also diminish the value for other members.
Considering a Peer Advisory Group?
Now that you know what to look for when choosing a peer advisory group, you’re ready to make an informed decision.
At Six Figure Dinners, we bring together entrepreneurs and founders to address critical business issues, exchange wisdom, and gain insights from our collective experiences. Our meetings, whether online or in-person, spark innovation, foster collaboration, and promote strategic advancement, giving our members transformative insights for substantial business growth.