A few years ago, I asked 3 of my friends, all of whom had their own businesses and had children at my daughter's school, if they wanted to create a business support group. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made. We meet monthly, for about 2 hours in the morning, to discuss our challenges, business goals, and report on what we accomplished over the previous month. Initially, I thought we would primarily hold one another accountable to our business tasks, but it has turned into so much more! It is a safe place for us to meet and talk about fears AND successes in ALL areas of our lives- from business ownership to motherhood, we have supported and cheered one another on.
We come from many areas of expertise: There are crafters, artists, therapists, retail sales, photographers, restaurant owners represented and, while one would think it would be beneficial to have only one industry focus, we've come to realize that's not the point. The point is to have a group of women who are in the same boat. Women who help each other figure out how to deal with the challenges of raising a family and raising a business.
Over the past three years, we have had one member leave, and two more join us. I have moved away, but now I attend the meetings via Skype. We are a close knit group and I feel so lucky to have these women in my life. If you are interested in creating a business support group of your own, here are some tips for making the experience as successful as possible:
- Keep the group small and intimate. We have 6 women in our group and that's as many as we can handle. We want everyone to have a chance to discuss their business in our meetings and we want to keep the meetings manageable time-wise.
- Be selective about membership. It's important that you pick people who are trustworthy as there is a lot of vulnerabilty exposed in the meetings. You also want to have members who are serious about their business and will stick to the meeting agenda. This isn't a social hour, it's a business meeting.
- Set a regular date and stick to it. We meet the second Wednesday of every month and we all make it a top priority to be there. This goes back to the point above-pick women who are going to make this meeting a priority.
- Have forms to fill-out each month to keep the meeting on track. We have a form that everyone fills out before the meeting that allows us to focus on our accomplishments, hold ourselves accountable, and get focused on where we are struggling and might need help or support. We have a second form, that we fill out during the meeting, that helps us set goals and tasks for the next month.
- Host a yearly retreat. Each year, we get together to plan out the next year. We eat good food, journal, and do some art and/or personal enrichment exercises. We all look forward to it every year.
This should get you started for creating your own business support group. You can always contact me if you have any questions or need advice for creating your own Business Support Group.
Visit one of my fellow group member's website to buy some awesome jewelry!