Last month we talked about getting together with other soloists to support and grow your business through a Business Action Group (BAG). If you’re thinking “This is for me” then here are the steps to setting up your very own BAG.
Get clear about what you want
People join groups for different reasons. For your Business Action Group to be effective you need to get clear about your own intentions and expectations for meeting, as well as sounding out other members. For example, you don’t want a group where one member’s intention is simply to spend 60 minutes dumping their “woes of the week”.
Select your members
Next you need to identify the people who you would like to work with. In your BAG mix, you may wish to consider skills, experience, knowledge, resources, gender and ages that will complement each other. Also, do you want people from from within (or outside of) your own profession/industry? Finally, check that your expectations and values are a match and your new BAG will be ready to roll.
Your BAG may happen organically, in that you invite one person who invites another and so on, or you might have your “dream team“ already in mind. The optimal size of a BAG is between four and six people. This gives enough time each meeting for each person to focus on their business while maximising the resources and scope of the group.
Once you’ve identified your group’s purpose and at least one person you’d like to invite then you can organise your first meeting. Here you can find out what everyone wants and create the structure to support this.
Some issues you may wish to give attention to are
- how you will meet (face to face, tele- and/or video-conference);
- how often (weekly, fortnightly, monthly) and
- what your initial commitment to the group will be (e.g. three months and then revise).
From there you can draw on the wisdom and resources of the group to outline how each meeting will proceed and set some guidelines. Meetings usually have the format of:
- General introductions and follow-up from the previous meeting.
- Each member gets 10 to 15 minutes to discuss an issue/question/opportunity they are facing in their business. This includes outlining the issue, getting ideas/questions from others and then committing to taking some action that the group will hold you accountable for.
- Actions are recorded and distributed after the meeting by the leader.
The role of leader ideally rotates through the members, which enables you to get a chance to develop your group leadership skills in the bargain!
Business Action Group basics
Some basic guidelines of BAGs include:
- Creating a culture of respect – everyone brings a range of skills, experience and knowledge.
- Feedback is encouraged but criticism has no place.
- Confidentiality is a given.
- No one person dominates the group.
- Older members can learn from younger members. The more experienced can learn from newcomers. If you didn’t have something to learn you wouldn’t be there.
Whilst all this action talk may make it sound very task-oriented, once you’ve met a few times you’ll find that trust and rapport emerges, discussions become personal and you start to see people beyond their business bravado.
This is when your BAG becomes special. I’ve been blown away by the brilliance of members of my group, or just touched by their courage in the face of adversity, or their vulnerability when trying something new. And yet they do it. And you’re so proud. And you celebrate.
“You’re doing a great job”
Aren’t they the words everyone wants to hear? When you’re the boss, there often isn’t anyone around to say these words. With a Business Action Group, you’ll not only become more effective and will make decisions that you believe in, you’ll also get the feedback that lets you know you are doing a great job.
Go get ‘em.
This article first appeared in the online community for solo business owners www.flyingsolo.com.au