CEO & Business Owner Roundtables
Leading a company can be a lonely job. Some issues are inappropriate to discuss with friends, employees, or family members, so even experienced business owners can feel isolated in business decisions. Until you have experienced it, you may find it difficult to imagine the value of having a group of peers who can exchange ideas with you, brainstorm solutions to your nagging business problems, and use the experiences and strengths of others to make us better leaders.
These are not networking groups. No sales are allowed. To help you get the most relevant, useful value for your business, a roundtable is a structured conversation about challenges and opportunities faced by each business (including yours) and the group’s collective ideas to help each business.
A roundtable brings together business leaders to offer each other real-world perspectives, candid advice from experienced company owners, and help with critical decisions. They help you tackle pressing issues relevant to your business, address nagging long-term problems, and increase your own level of performance.
Which Roundtable is Right for You?
Minnesota has a number of executive roundtables for CEOs and business owners. Here is a list of those we know:
- Executive Group, Bill Mills, 763-477-5599
- Inner Circle, Brad Lantz, 612-805-7440
- Allied Executives, John Palen, 651-735-0740
- Vistage, 612-256-2856
- EO (Entrepreneurs’ Organization)
- SCORE’s CEO Forum, Jim Handy, 952-938-4570
- CEO Roundtable, Dan Grady, 952-426-3056
- ACG (Association for Corporate Growth), Nicki Vincent, 612-590-1041
- C12 Group (Christian Forum), David Fergus, 612-387-3515
What is a CEO & Business Owner Roundtable?
In short, a roundtable is a group of business owners or CEOs who meet routinely to get advice on building their business in exchange for offering advice to other business owners.
These types of groups go by many names including
- virtual board
- executive peer group
- peer advisory group
- peer board of directors
- mastermind group
- CEO peer advisory group
- peer-to-peer advisory group
- third party board of directors
- outside board
The idea is the same: meet routinely with your peers to exchange ideas and build your companies. You discuss challenges and issues with your business peers who have built companies themselves, and learn from their insights and experiences.
Why Join a Roundtable?
Running a business may leave you making decisions alone at the top. If you are like most business owners, your family and friends cannot fully appreciate what it takes to run and grow a business.
As a business owner, you face challenges that are common to business owners. You recognize the value of learning from each other (which is cheaper than hiring consultants).
Come discuss challenges and issues with your business peers who have built companies themselves, and learn from their insights and experiences. Meet with other business owners and entrepreneurs to exchange ideas to grow your business.
What are the Benefits of a CEO & Business Owner Roundtable?
In short, draw on the experience, advice, and knowledge of your peers. Don’t do business alone. A roundtable empowers you with insights and perspectives you cannot get on your own.
Key benefits include:
- becoming a more effective leader
- improving your sales growth & profit
- maximizing employee & company performance
- identifying latest, best tools & resources
- learning new ideas, solutions, outcomes, and strategies
- improving work-life balance
Other benefits include:
- Best Practices – Avoiding mistakes by learning insights and ideas from experienced CEOs and business owners
- Sounding Board – Being able to bounce things off trusted advisors to see what they think of your ideas or problems
- New Ideas – Tapping in to the creative ideas of others
- Business Knowledge and Information – Accessing the expertise of other business people
- Problem Solving – Using the collective wisdom of the group to help solve your business problems
- New Business Friends and Fun – Developing relationships among the members of the group and they enjoy being together (this is not a networking group)
- Increase Personal Efficiency – Learning from others how to say no, get out of things and delegate more effectively.
What is the Meeting Format?
Each organization has its own format, but in general, a meeting has these core components:
- Optional: short presentation
- Attendees discuss business issues/challenges
Are There Any Rules?
Each organization has their own rules. Common rules include respecting confidentiality and having no sales. Requirements to join often include (1) a minimum business size and (2) an executive role in the business (such as president or CEO).
What is the Cost?
Costs generally are about $500-900 per month, plus a startup fee. The SCORE CEO Forum is around $100 per month.
What are Discussion Topics?
Common topics include sales, legal, marketing, human resources, finances, and technology topics including:
- implementing best practices, tools, and strategies
- solving problems – improving company processes and operations
- establishing dashboard reports & accountability systems
- improving employee performance evaluations
- crafting business strategies and benchmarks
- preparing for a merger, acquisition, or business sale
- optimizing use of outside services & resources
- managing business operations, productivity, and communications
What Topics are Discussed?
These roundtable discussions are conversations about the challenges of growing a business:
- Business Financing – Angel Investors / Venture Capital, Bootstrapping, Funding, Loans
- Business Models – Brick-and-Mortar, Choosing a Business Model, eCommerce, Online Business, SaaS, Part-Time Business, Social Entrepreneurship
- Business Planning – Startup Costs, Business Structure, Choosing a Business Idea, Pivoting, Exit Strategy, Legal, Market Research & Analysis, Mentors and Advisory Boards, Starting Up, Strategic Partnerships, Joint Ventures, Writing a Business Plan
- Business Technology – Hardware, Integrated Systems, Mobile Communications, Networks, Security, Software
- Inventing – Market Your Invention, Patents & Trademarks, Protect an Idea, Prototyping
- Web-based Business – Building a Web Site, eCommerce, Search Advertising, SEO, Site Analytics, Smart Web Solutions, Web Site Promotion
- Life Planning – Business Failure, Dealing with Stress, Hate My Job, Inspiration to Start Up, Personal Finances, Social Entrepreneurship, Starting a Business after Retirement, Taking Time Off, Work-Life Balance, Write a Life Plan, Young Entrepreneurs
- Running a Business – Accounting and Financial Management, Business Ethics, Business Insurance, Business Partners, Business Taxes, Business Travel, Doing Green Business, Employees, Foreign Markets, Getting Organized, Growth Strategies, Healthcare & Insurance, Inventory Management, Manufacture a Product, Measuring Success, Minority Businesses, Outsourcing, Real Estate, Shipping, Staying Inspired
- Sales – Customer Service, Sales Proposals, Sales Strategy
- Small Business Marketing – Advertising and Promotion, Affiliate Marketing, Branding Strategy, Business Blogging, Direct Marketing, Email Marketing, Grassroots Marketing, Marketing Plan, Networking, Niche Marketing, Online Marketing, Public Relations (PR)
What are Other Popular Executive Peer Group Organizations?
In addition to those listed above, there are a number of peer advisory groups in the United States including
- The Alternative Board (TAB)
- Chief Executive Network
- YPO (Young Presidents Organization)
- CEO Focus
- Christian Business Men’s Connection (CBMC)
- Women Presidents’ Organization
- Renaissance Executive Forums
- The CEO Project
- The Executive Peer Forum
What Challenges Could a Roundtable Help Me With?
You know your challenges better than anyone:
- What keeps you awake at night?
- What aspects of your business create anxiety?
- Do you have seasoned business owners who will help with impartial, unbiased advice?
- Where do you get the latest management thinking?
One study showed that the top three challenges of all business leaders were
- growing revenue and profits
- staying focused on strategic issues
- developing key people
The New York Times noted:
Not surprisingly, peer advisory sessions can feel like group therapy for high achievers. In structured sessions, owners take turns presenting their business problems to a dozen or so peers, owners of local but noncompeting businesses. After each presentation, the other members ask questions to extract more details and get at the “real” issues. They help the owner devise a plan to address the issues. Finally, the owner sets a deadline and designates someone in the business or in the group to see that the plan is carried out.
We invite you to try out a roundtable near you.