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Forming a Business Support Group

Team up with like-minded people who can give you the push you need to meet--and surpass--your business goals.
December 1, 2005
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/81078

Some of my best--and worst--ideas come when I am alone. In the shower or during a long drive, I connect to my own private "Eureka!" At these moments, I feel energized as an entrepreneur, ready to realize any new business venture. However, while solitude may help generate new insights, it is difficult to implement innovative goals in isolation.

Being an entrepreneur is about much more than having ideas; it's knowing how best to build the roads and bridges that will transform your ideas into reality. It necessitates integrating others' advice and experience to discover exceptional ways to navigate the path from dreams to opportunities.

"Success teaming" is a growth strategy in which you band together with other open-minded business owners and colleagues to plot out the blueprint for achieving your goals. It's a remarkable tool for generating new approaches and solving the challenges that arise as you grow your business. Try these tips for getting started:

1. Analyze the needs of your customers. Discover additional products and services that will increase customers' satisfaction. Ask your clients what other complementary items they procure on a regular basis that fit with your business. Making these items more convenient for them to acquire is a wonderful way to increase customer loyalty. For example, if you own a salon, your customers might enjoy discounts at health clubs, cosmetic shops or health-food stores.

2. Create a list of potential collaborators. Consulting with other business owners with similar customer bases but who aren't direct competitors enables your team to rally around a common foundation. Individuals you currently conduct business with who are located near you or are in your vertical manufacturing chain make great candidates. Their understanding of your customers' needs and desires makes their advice especially relevant.

3. Hold a success-team meeting. Use the list you created to form a success team with six to eight members. Establish regularly scheduled working sessions with them. This is the time to recharge one another's batteries and share practical steps toward success. The objective of these meetings: Explore ways to update your approach to improving your business results and increasing profitability.

4. Maintain involvement through accountability. Success teammates help each other set realistic goals and develop new strategies by providing honest feedback. Choose one team member every month to lead the meetings-this person will set agendas and summarize discussions. All challenges and action plans discussed during the meetings are to be kept strictly confidential. Trust enables you to contribute to the group unabashedly.

5. Implement programs that generate results for all members. Producing positive outcomes for all team members keeps them motivated. A great starting point is developing a cooperative marketing campaign that boosts sales without having to allocate additional personal resources. Customers love to spread the word about special offers they receive and the money they save. Your team can undertake a word-of-mouth marketing campaign. For instance, create a booklet of discounts that contains coupons for each team member's business, and distribute it to your customers.

Every business owner encounters situations that affect his or her business goals. Often, just talking these challenges through with people who have different perspectives can provide the answers you seek. The contributions from your success team boost your confidence and empower you to attain your goals far more efficiently than you would alone.

Speaker and consultant Romanus Wolter, aka "The Kick Start Guy," is author of Kick Start Your Dream Business.