This article has a special place in my heart. It was the first to get published at Flying Solo in 2006 which lead to google rankings and traffic for the WLD website. For me, it’s a reminder that, even when writing business articles, the good stuff comes when I write from my heart and my experience.
When you work in isolation, running a successful business isn’t just about getting clients but about building relationships in a supportive environment. That’s where Business Action Groups (BAG) come in.
Napoleon Hill referred to them as Master Mind groups. Benjamin Franklin spoke fondly of his ‘Junto’. Me? I’ve got my group of Enrichers. Buddy groups, dream teams, action groups – what they all have in common is the coming together of a committed group of business owners who help each other to success.
Business Action Groups are about getting together with others who are passionate about what they do and sharing resources, knowledge and experiences and they are formed specifically with this intention.
BAGs are small (four to six people), meet regularly and are structured to provide a safe, energising space for you to look at the issues you are facing in your business and commit to taking action.
Growing your business can mean entering new territory, making decisions on things you have no track record of, and feeling a little uncomfortable. If you are fortunate you will have people around you who you can discuss this with – a partner, family member or friend, perhaps – but more often than not our relationships with others aren’t built to discuss business issues.
Also, sometimes you just want to talk with someone who knows what you’re going through. Turning to your peers for support is a logical move but in business your peers are often your competitors.
Business Action Groups allow you the space to confidently make these decisions. It’s a place where you can work out exactly what it is you want, find a few ways to attain it and choose which will work best for your situation.
A BAG can help you in your business in the following ways:
Helps you keep your integrity
To be a person of your word, you need to act on your decisions. Saying “I’m going to do this” to another is a powerful motivator. You know they’ll ask you how it’s going when you next meet. So when you commit to action in your BAG, the likelihood that you’ll follow through and do what you say you’d do increases dramatically.
And that’s even before you factor in accountability – where the group commits to helping you keep to your word by specifically following you up on your action. Yes, in a perfect world we would be fully internally motivated and only need to be accountable to ourselves. But, in the meantime, you have your BAG.
Other perspectives help you solve problems
One of the fundamentals of BAGs is that no one is the expert. Sure, everyone has different perspectives on your issue but there’s no “one right way”. And that‘s important for autonomy-loving soloists. If there are five other people in your group, then there will be five different approaches to consider.
Perhaps they will help you see opportunities that were out of your sight previously. Perhaps you are stretched to playing a bigger game. Or even challenged to not just meet a standard but to begin setting the standard. And you make your decisions based on this much fuller picture of your situation.
You contribute to the success of others
As well as receiving all this support and encouragement in your own venture, your BAG gives you the opportunity to share your knowledge, experiences and resources with others. Often it’s a surprising bonus to learn just how unique you are and what value you bring to any relationship.
…and you will have fun!
Let’s not forget that with this flow of giving and receiving – celebrating the highs and lows of each member’s business life – friendships develop. Fun and laughter is had. And all those platitudes about business being tough begin to melt away.
Suddenly you begin seeing yourself as part of that small percentage of business owners who are making it work.
This article first appeared in the online community for solo business owners www.flyingsolo.com.au