If your business needs a boost, think about forming your own brainstorming group with other like-minded business owners in your area to come up with fresh marketing and management ideas.
Certainly everyone is in business to make a profit, and it might sound strange to sit down with people you view as potential competition to share notes. But everyone can benefit from banding together to form your own “brainstorming village.” You’ll generate new ideas, find out what works and what doesn’t, and learn you’re not in this alone.
You may come away with new business leads, marketing ideas, and a new resolve to make your business even better than it already is. Often small business owners can feel isolated and fearful they are the only ones facing problems and challenges in their businesses. By meeting regularly with other business owners, they can discover they’re not the only ones feeling this way, and that can be extremely motivational and inspiring.
To get started, contact businesses that serve the same market segment as you, form a group, then get down to business. The following tips will help guide your meetings:
- Stay on topic: Before your meeting, be sure to pick a particular topic to cover, otherwise your meeting could end up heading off in too many directions. For example, choose marketing as a topic for one session, employee hiring for another, and managing customer accounts for another. That way you can come prepared with stories, numbers, and solutions. And everyone will have a clear focus and idea of what to expect from the meeting.
- Talk about what works: One of the first things you can do as a group is discuss marketing ideas that have worked in the past. Business owners may share ideas for marketing campaigns that were particularly effective, and you can build on ideas to create your own marketing masterpieces. Share ideas about hiring employees, managing your inventory, and taking unusual approaches to advertising. You can build on each other’s ideas, come up with new approaches, and feel better about your business decisions as you share your results with other owners in similar situations.
- Talk about what doesn’t work: You can learn from each other’s mistakes, too. Did you promote an aggressive marketing campaign with disastrous results? Did you hire the employee from hell by ignoring the warning signs? Did you purchase the wrong product at the wrong time? Sharing these painful decisions can help other group members avoid them. On top of that, by getting feedback from the group, you may gain some insight into why they didn’t work for you.
- Meet regularly: Setting a regular meeting date helps you keep on track and stay organized. If you know you’re going to meet the first Wednesday of every month, you’re more likely to keep the time open, and more members will show up. And you will avoid spending 20 minutes at the end of each meeting trying to determine when the next meeting will be.