Learning how to become a better entrepreneur is an issue faced by startups from seed stage and up. Many entrepreneurs struggle with the issue for years, if not decades because they don’t know what or how to learn. They get lost in the rabbit hole called the Internet, chasing endless paths with curiosity as their only guide.
There are plenty of free resources available online such as blogs, podcasts and other forms of media that you can utilize to learn about entrepreneurship. Having access to these resources is a huge step in the right direction when it comes to learning how to become a better entrepreneur, but if that’s all you are doing, well you are missing the one thing that will surely accelerate your growth.
In 2011, I joined the Entrepreneur Organization (EO), with a strong desire to grow as an entrepreneur. The books, podcasts and courses could only get me so far and I was willing to risk the money and time to invest in a peer-to-peer group like EO. The investment was not small, at the time my first year was $6k all-in, and for a young company with about $2.5 million in revenue, this was a sizable chunk of my marketing budget. Truthfully it felt selfish to spend that on myself given that my two other founders didn’t see merit in the program. It was also an investment in time. Once a month my colleagues and I meant for “forum” which was a regular meeting of 8 or so members, trained to go deep and cut thru the bull of superficial, Ego-driven discussion to get at the root of what makes us better. I loved it! I can’t think of another investment that I have made for my business that has paid back so immediately, and obviously the ROI on this investment is still growing and paying dividends.
As a member of EO, I learned to be comfortable being uncomfortable; to listen with empathy instead of judgement; and ultimately how to become a better entrepreneur and more importantly as a person. I was so impressed by the experience that I started using the meeting techniques in my company meetings, and yes, even my marriage. But that is another story.
EO ran it’s course for me. I sold my share of my agency, Imulus, in 2015 and set out on a journey that took me through Techstars, The Jacobsen, Fastmarkets and now to where I’m at today. During this 6 year run, the entrepreneurial group I started after EO, called the 150, has remained a touchstone for me. It’s this group, the 150, that brings me to the point of the story.
Like EO, The 150 is a entrepreneurial peer-to-peer group where entrepreneurs go to “sharpen their steel” against the wisdom and experience of other entrepreneurs. Over the last 5 years, the group has evolved away from the original virtual EO model into more of an interactive community where the members really care about the success of each other.
It is a partnership of equals focused on helping each other to become better. The meeting structure is not as rigid or prescriptive as EO and over time we have evolved a consensus based process that drives the discussion and allows for more open and real dialogue, yet still provides great value.
Bottom-line, there a many entrepreneurial peer-to-peer groups out there, what resonates with each individual is completely up to taste preferences. However, there has been nothing more impactful to my life as a human, let alone an entrepreneur as a group of like-minded individuals to keep me humble and honest.