One of the things I love about Applied Innovations is that each day we get to help businesses succeed online. In fact, “making online success, easy” is our business mantra. Unfortunately, we can only help with cloud initiatives and frequently businesses need more help than just that. One place I’ve come to realize most business leaders need help is that they struggle to stop working on the operations of the business and focus on the growth strategy of the business. I like to refer to it as “working on the business, instead of working in the business”. As someone that started his company as a sole proprietorship and has grown it for 14 years, I know first hand just how hard it is to do this and I’m sure many others can relate.
Four years ago, I was looking for a way to really grow my company and needed help transitioning from the guy that helped put out fires to someone that focused the growth and strategy (Yes I wanted to start working more on the business and not as much in the business). I happened across a CEO leadership group called Vistage.
In a nutshell Vistage is a CEO peer group where CEOs, Business Owners and Business leaders meet on a monthly basis to help each other become better leaders. I can honestly say joining Vistage was not only one of the best things I’ve done for my own professional growth but also for the growth and stability of Applied Innovations. Each month I meet with a team of 16 CEO from successful businesses in a wide range of industries. Many of these CEOs are serial entrepreneurs and have led companies from inception to hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenue and have held leadership positions in some of the most recognized brands. At our monthly meetings we discuss a plethora of issues and help each by providing our own unique perspective on their business or issues. Then I also meet each month with my ‘CEO coach’ for two hours a month in a private one-on-one setting where we can deep dive into what’s happening with my business. Now, I know what you’re thinking this sounds like some kind of a ‘hug it out and let’s go sing kumbaya out in the woods’ type group where everyone is there to just network and sell to each other. It’s anything but that. Sure I’ve developed personal relationships with my group members and if I need a hug I’m sure I can get one but it’s really about having other individuals in the same role as myself and regardless of their business, they’re experiencing many of the same issues I’m experiencing. But the real value is that most of them have “been there, done that” and can (and have) help me not make the mistakes they may have made in the past.
The other thing I get out of it is that I have someone to help hold me accountable to my business plan and keep me from wandering off the plan. I’ve found almost all tech business owners have ‘shiny object syndrome’ where a new shiny object comes into the room and their attention is immediately drawn to that as opposed to remaining focused on the matter at hand. I absolutely suffer from shiny object syndrome and Vistage helps me fight my natural tendancies. Vistage has also helped me make some of the best decisions I’ve made so far for my company and helped me to avoid some decisions that I would have normally jumped into and later regretted.
I’m usually pretty quiet about things like Vistage but this year at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Toronto, I attended a session by a speaker who mentioned a number of groups like Vistage and I was amazed to see the number of individuals in that room that were also members of such groups like Vistage and raved about the success their membership has helped them achieve.
So I believe even the most successful businesses and business leaders can learn to become even more successful and I’d encourage you as you look to improve your business in 2013 to look at your own professional development. Here’s a few groups that I know of and I’m sure there’s plenty more like these:
- Vistage – www.vistage.com
- Young Presidents Organization – www.ypo.org
- Entrepreneurs’ Organization – www.eonetwork.org
- CEO Focus – www.ceofocus.com
All my best – Jess