Archive for December, 2010
When Sir Edmund Hillary stood on top of Mt. Everest, he wasn’t alone. Beside him was a Sherpa mountaineer named Tenzing Norgay.
Women business owners and entrepreneurs: you don’t need to go it alone!
Being in business by yourself can sometimes be lonely and isolating. Perhaps you’re having issues and problems and you don’t feel comfortable sharing them with your employees. It’s also hard to know if your family and friends “sugarcoat” the feedback they give you.
Peer mentoring is a tool that many women business owners and professionals are starting to use to develop their businesses and strategies. With the guidance of a trained facilitator, a group of peers—often in similar stages of development—meet to exchange feedback, ideas, and concerns. It is an opportunity to benefit from mutual support and experience, to learn from each other’s successes and mistakes. What is it like going through a state certification process? How do you resolve employee disputes? A peer group not only guides you through your struggles, but can relate to them. This is what makes a group mentoring relationship quite different than a business advisory or coaching relationship: you are all in the same boat. Often times, peer mentoring groups also have an educational component (as is the case with the WBC Forum group), enabling members to expand their knowledge base on emerging business tools and management techniques.
In the 2010 report Roadmap to 2020: Fueling the Growth of Women’s Business Enterprise, Marsha Firestone, WPO President and Founder, asserts the value of this model. She says that “collaborative learning draws out the insight and wisdom of each individual participant, resulting in a mix of ideas that benefits the whole.”
What makes a good group:
The group should be comprised of women whose businesses do not compete with yours but are similar in size, revenues and other key characteristics. Some groups might be divided by similar industry, like for those in medical or legal fields, or maybe for those running established family businesses. Group dynamics and group energy are important, and can increase your determination and encourage you to achieve your goals. Openness and honesty is key. Firestone adds: “The effectiveness of the group is entirely dependent on the participants’ willingness to share. Only when people are open about discussing their finances and other sensitive issues will the group benefit the most.”
Benefits to you:
The group functions not only as a sounding board for your issues, but from the members’ collective experience, you gain insight that you would not have gotten from family members or friends, or even mentors. The bonds forged between members of the group are equally as important, and can lead to strategic alliances and future collaborations. And perhaps most importantly, the support of the peer group drives you as a business owner to action: an unspoken intention is not as powerful as an intention you share with a group of peers.
Being a member of a group can provide you with inspiration, ideas and motivation.
What are your thoughts about peer mentoring? Are you a member of a peer group? What was your experience? Share