“Many people who own and run their own businesses autonomously don’t have anyone to challenge their thinking or hold them accountable to their decisions and commitments. When you’re constantly in your business, it can be easy to miss things that might be obvious to someone from the outside looking in.”
This is according to Executive Life Coach Jason Bernic who says that as a solo business owner he found himself in a position where he was wanting to bounce ideas off other like-minded people with similar frames of reference and experiences. “I needed the input of other business owners and entrepreneurs who I could chat to for insights and accountability. So a year ago I formed a think tank group that is called The Business Salon.”
“The group is made up of business owners from a wide range of sectors who come together once a month to listen, be heard, question, challenge and uplift one another. We lean on one another for progressive opinion, perspective, and advice. The group also offers opportunities for networking and business development through each members connections. Our meetings don’t follow a rigid agenda or format but are guided by myself, and everyone takes part.”
“Further to this, and importantly, the group provides an essential accountability function,” says Bernic. “Not in the sense of quizzing the members on their actions and deliverables, but rather providing a space for individuals to return to the group with success stories about action taken – it is about moving forward confidently and making measurable progress.”
Benefits of finding yourself a think tank team
Bernic advises that a think tank or advisory group such as the Business Salon can have a myriad of benefits for your business:
1. It provides perspective and makes space for you to think things through.
“It is all too easy to get sucked into operational details and a sounding board can help you ensure that strategic issues have been properly identified and planned for.”
2. The very act of explaining your ideas and issues to others who are objective can help you clarify your own thinking.
“The explanation and “unpacking” process helps sequence your thinking in a way that makes your overall story much more coherent and easily conveyed.”
3. It gives you the chance to develop your ideas further, and if necessary, change direction completely.
“It is very normal for any good leader to have doubts, and it is a part of the job to explore these doubts. This is a naturally uncomfortable process and it helps to have someone support you through it.”
4. It allows you to have your thinking challenged in a non-threatening environment.
“Truthfulness tends to shrivel as it gets closer to power. An un-effected outsider can ask those challenging questions such as “Why would you want to do that?” “What would happen if you didn’t do that?” etc.”
5. An outsider can often see when the leader is part of the problem and highlight when you might need to consider your own contribution to the situation.
“Being too close to something can make it impossible to see how you are potentially contributing to the problem or how your personal feelings or frame of reference is impacting a situation or decision. Outsiders can help identify this.”
6. It allows you to seek input from someone outside your businesses structure and therefore not need to play power games.
“A sounding board is not about someone coming in and telling you how to run your business; but rather it is to help you get at the wisdom you already have, and allow you access to the wisdom of others who have no axe to grind.”
7. You are able to bring in new ideas from outside your firm.
Fresh perspectives from other business leaders who are lending their insights with no ulterior motive, and from their own sphere of experience is invaluable.”
“We’ve all had those times where we just can’t decide what the best thing is to do. Or maybe things are not going right, and creativity has hit the wall. Perhaps an opportunity present itself and analyses paralyses sets it.”
“An external group of like-minded business owners can provide expert advice, bring a sense of clarity to situations and supply reassurance during tumultuous times.”