As small business owners we are often left on our own. We don’t have the staff of a larger company. We do not have strategic teams. We don’t have a board of directors to guide us. We are too busy surviving. As a result, we sometimes become tactical and our vision narrows. How can we focus on the longer term when we are stuck in the day to day? This became apparent during a meeting that I had with a small business owner last night.
Mike and I met at Starbucks to discuss Vistage and whether he was a fit for my group. This owner’s business had been flat for two years and he was paralyzed. He was depressed, stressed, not sleeping and stuck knowing that he had to change but unable to execute. Incredibly, he had no idea this was the case. He thought he had just become lazy and his sleep apnea had gotten the best of him. He had a different problem. He was stuck in his own mind, stuck in his own way and had started to believe the stories that his mind and his denial had been telling him. After a small conversation his mind was freed up to start executing. He had the bones of a plan and had some action steps to take. What changed? Working with a peer allowed him to come out of his own mind. I offered perspective and frankly, called him on his head trash; just what a peer group does. I also gave him someone to be accountable to. As a small business owner he had not had anyone to be accountable to for 8 years.
With a much clearer understanding of what Vistage does and with a real life demonstration of the value of working with a peer group I asked what his business would look like if he had this for the last two years. After a few seconds and some head nods the answer came back. “I would be far beyond where I am now”.
In my life and career, Vistage has been invaluable. It has helped my career develop and has pushed me to understand myself and improve. My passion has led me to become a Vistage chair so that I could share this gift with other business owners. It may or may not be the right answer for you. After all, if the cost exceeds the value, why bother? For Mike there wasn’t even a question. He needed to exit his cocoon. He needed to develop or fade away (physically and professionally). If you are wondering if it’s a fit for you and your business than I encourage you to reach out to me or any other Vistage Chair to gather more information and make your determination.
Check out the Vistage International web site and this great simulation of a Vistage meeting below.