May 30


What are Peer Advisory Groups? Everything You Need to Know

By Andrew Martin

May 30, 2024

peer advisory groups

Peer advisory groups offer a competitive edge to savvy entrepreneurs by bringing together business owners and leaders to share insights, offer mutual support, and provide expert guidance based on collective experience and expertise.

As a business owner, it’s all too easy to feel isolated as you shoulder the load of decision-making, problem-solving, and steering your company toward success on your own. You’re tasked with making critical decisions daily, confronting challenges that can’t just can’t be solved with a simple Google search.

This burden can feel like it’s too much for just one person to manage (and it usually is). I’ve experienced firsthand how isolation can lead to burnout, limited perspectives, and stalled innovation. The problem is that many entrepreneurs don’t have a dependable support network of peers who truly understand their journey and can offer useful advice.

In the article below, I’m going to dive deep into what peer advisory groups are, how they work, and why joining one could be the best investment you ever make in yourself and your business.

What are Peer Advisory Groups?

Peer advisory groups, also known as peer advisory boards, bring together a small, highly-vetted group of business owners in various, non-competing industries to tackle challenges, exchange experiences, and share strategies for success.

For example, at Six Figure Dinners, our peer advisory groups are made up of 8 members plus a Board Chair who acts as a facilitator for the group (more on this later).

These groups provide a safe, confidential setting where members can benefit from the collective wisdom, diverse perspectives, and accountability that come from their peers.

The main focus of a peer advisory group is to help each member tackle their most pressing business issues, from operational challenges to strategic planning, by drawing on the diverse experiences and battle-tested insights of the group.

A member will present his or her problem to the board. Then, the group members will ask a series of discovery questions to gain a better understanding of the issue and all of the context surrounding it. And then, the members of the group will take turns providing their own advice and suggestions based on their unique experience and expertise.

This collaborative approach to problem-solving has been proven to help owners improve their decision-making while also leading to increased profits, sales, and productivity for their company.

In fact, 86% of businesses that have access to advisory groups saw their sales increase by up to 24%, while company productivity increased by 18%. Not only that, studies have found that having access to peer accountability partners increases your chances of reaching your goals by over 85%.

A peer advisory group typically meets on a regular basis — whether monthly (as is the case with Six Figure Dinners), quarterly, or at other intervals agreed upon by the members. These meetings can be held virtually, in-person, or even in a hybrid format, depending on the group’s preferences.

Each session is carefully structured to ensure that members get focused attention on their specific challenges, with the group offering insightful feedback, advice, and support.

Who’s in the Typical Peer Advisory Group?

This answer can vary a little bit depending on the group, in most cases, the typical peer group is made up of business owners whose companies are roughly at the same level (some members may be slightly further along in their journey than others in the group) and a Board Chair who leads the group and facilitates the process.

Joining a peer advisory group usually involves an application and vetting process to ensure a good fit between the potential member and the existing group dynamics.

Criteria may include the size and type of business, the industry, and the specific challenges or goals of the applicant. This careful selection process helps to maintain the integrity and effectiveness of the group.

For example, in Six Figure Dinners, our members are owners running businesses in the $500,000 to $5 million annual revenue range. We make sure that every board is made up of a diverse group of owners who are in non-competing industries so that members can openly share their insights and challenges without fear of competition.

This diversity not only enriches the discussion with a wide range of perspectives but also ensures that the advice and strategies shared can be applied effectively across different sectors. Members benefit from the collective wisdom of the group, gaining actionable advice that’s been tested in various business environments.

How Peer Advisory Groups Work

Peer advisory groups operate on the principles of shared commitment to one another and collective wisdom. This mutual commitment ensures everyone gets the most from the experience.

A good peer advisory group will offer a structured environment where members can seek advice, share experiences, and gain insights to navigate the various challenges that come with running a business.

Here’s a breakdown of how these groups typically work:

  • Regular Meetings: Groups meet regularly, often monthly, to discuss business challenges, opportunities, and strategies. Meetings can be in-person, such as dinner meetings, or virtual on a platform like Zoom.
  • Structured Format: Each meeting follows a structured format, starting with a check-in or icebreaker, followed by focused discussions on pre-selected member-presented challenges.
  • Facilitation: Meetings are facilitated by an experienced Board Chair or moderator who guides the discussion, ensures all members participate, and keeps the conversation on track.
  • Presentation of Challenges: Members take turns presenting a current challenge or opportunity they’re facing in their business. This is done in a structured manner, with the presenting member providing background information and specific questions for the group.
  • Feedback and Advice: Following the presentation, other members ask clarifying questions and then offer feedback, suggestions, and share relevant experiences. This collaborative problem-solving approach allows the presenting member to gain new insights and actionable advice.
  • Action Plans: Members often leave meetings with action plans developed through the group’s input. These plans are specific, measurable, and designed to address the challenges discussed.
  • Follow-Up: To keep members on track, follow-up discussions on action plans will often take place (sometimes in a one-on-one format with a Board Chair), allowing members to report back on progress, refine strategies, and receive continued support.
  • Additional Events: In addition to regular board meetings, these groups will also offer other events like retreats, workshops, opportunities for one-on-one meetings with other board members, etc.

The Characteristics of a Good Peer Group

Make no mistake — not all peer advisory groups are created equal. If you join the wrong group, you could actually end up doing more harm than good.

In my experience, the best peer groups have the following characteristics:

  • Diverse perspectives: The thing that makes peer advisory so powerful is it allows you to get a broad range of insights from members who come from a range of backgrounds. This can open your mind to new ways of looking at your business issues and help you uncover solutions you wouldn’t have thought of on your own.
  • Strict commitment to confidentiality: A peer advisory group has to be a safe space where business owners can share their issues and the inner-workings of their company with complete confidence that what they say won’t leave the room.
  • Structured, focused meetings: The best peer advisory groups have a clearly-defined structure to their meetings that ensures every session is productive and focused. This structure typically includes setting a clear agenda, timed discussions to keep topics on track, and action-oriented goals that members commit to pursuing between meetings. Such organization ensures that every participant has the opportunity to be heard and to contribute meaningfully, maximizing the value of the time spent together.
  • Qualified Board Chair/Facilitator: The role of the Board Chair can’t be understated. They are responsible for guiding problem-solving sessions, keeping the meetings structured and on schedule, and even providing their own coaching and guidance based on their extensive business experience.
  • Culture of mutual support and respect: For a peer advisory group to be truly effective, everyone needs to fully buy in. That means it’s not just about what you can get from the group but also about what you can give to the group to help others.
  • Selective membership: Peer advisory groups aren’t for everyone. You don’t want to be in a group that doesn’t carefully select its members to ensure they are committed to the board and offer the necessary experience and credentials to contribute meaningfully.

Why Join a Peer Advisory Group?

I’ve already written a very detailed guide on the reasons to join a peer advisory board, so I won’t belabor the point here. However, let’s briefly look at some of the benefits business owners in these groups often experience.

  • Gain access to fresh insights and diverse experiences
  • Challenge your way of thinking
  • Get actionable advice from entrepreneurs who have faced the problems you’re experiencing
  • Maintain accountability as you work toward your goals
  • Avoid expensive mistakes

Getting Started

Ready to elevate your business with the power of collective wisdom and shared success?

Six Figure Dinners invites you to join a peer advisory group where your growth is our mission.

Click here to learn more and join us as a guest at an upcoming event.

Andrew Martin

Andrew is Founder and CEO of Six Figure Dinners. He's also a co-owner of JARA Ventures, a venture capital firm that invests in and operates businesses across various industries, including financial services, recruiting, digital media, and real estate. Prior to this, he owned and managed 11 Menchie's Frozen Yogurt locations and a Menchie's Food Truck, which he sold in 2014. Andrew's other investments mainly target small to mid-sized consumer industries.

He earned his MBA from UCLA Anderson School of Management, specializing in Brand Management. Before pursuing his MBA, Andrew led a sales territory at The TREX Company in Boise, ID. Throughout his career, he has volunteered in various capacities, such as offering pro bono mediation services and assisting underprivileged families in improving their living situations.

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