Joining Forces

Getting Results

As with any other business tool, peer groups have their drawbacks. Although members are supposed to refrain from doing business together, Egge reports that in practice, some do wind up forming business relationships. And the supplier-vendor alliances that develop can compromise the confidentiality and objectivity necessary for members to feel comfortable discussing sensitive issues.

But despite the potential flaws, Saltvold credits his group with his company's growth. To make the most of group time, he doesn't spend it on mundane matters, no matter how pressing. Instead, he sticks to questions relating to business infrastructure and long-term growth strategies. The fact that his group includes members with experience running multiunit retail businesses gave him the confidence to proceed with expanding his store when they recommended it.

"I don't think we'd have six stores now if it wasn't for my involvement in the group," says Saltvold. "Every expansion decision I've made I've brought up to the group to justify it."

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This article was originally published in the June 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Joining Forces.

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