The opportunity to gain insights and advice into key business issues drew a group of
small business owners together recently for a rare day of peer coaching. All of us are alumni of the first Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses (10KSB) national program.
Small business owners typically lack a leadership team to help with key business issues. Many of us feel that this hampers our growth. CEO groups target larger companies and are too expensive for us to join. We organized this day of peer coaching ourselves by renting a local meeting space for the day and building an agenda where each business owner had 45 minutes to share a problem they wanted help with from the group. We closed with a discussion on marketing tips.
From left to right: Deborah Schimberg, Claire Kiedrowski, Phil Zuckerman, Mary Vigeant, Jim Henderson, Kari Heistad
The opportunity to gain insights into current business issues from peers was an integral part of the program. As Deborah Schimberg, CEO Verve, a natural chewing gum company explains, "The Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business national program provided an extraordinary opportunity for 70 of us to share our experiences, challenges, and successes in an intimate way. So many of us have learned on the job, and it's often difficult to find mentors or colleagues to learn from. In the program, we learned from one another, we helped solve one another's problems, and we grew into a network of support. Small businesses fail daily, but this program really helped stack the deck for success and growth."
It was the desire to continue learning from each other that drew the alumni together in Boston. "It is rare as a small business owner that I have a chance to speak to colleagues who have experienced the same challenges I have running a business" says Phil Zuckerman, CEO of Applewood Books. "I was able to gain valuable insight today into a current business issue that I will use immediately." Claire Kiedrowski, CEO of KAPPA Mapping echoed this idea "Meeting face-to-face provides an arena where I can ask those hard questions and share comments knowing that my staff and clients are nowhere nearby. This ready-made sounding board is invaluable to me. "
Everyone participating felt that the day together built upon the foundation that they gained through the program. "The program was pivotal to me as a business owner" says Mary Vigeant, President of Precision Textile Color. "I use what I learned in the program every day in my business and today has given me a chance to deepen that learning through our discussions about practical issues we are all currently facing."
As small business owners, we have much to share and learn from other entrepreneurs. Through the program we developed trust in each other and as we shared business issues we gained insights from other scholars that allowed us to push our businesses forward. Creating opportunities for additional coaching through reunion events is a natural extension of the program. All those attending walked away with advice and insights into the issue they presented to the group and we are already looking forward to our next event in September. Building a successful small business during economic upheavals can be challenging, but for those who us who are able to tap into peer coaching, that navigation becomes less turbulent and more growth filled, helping us all to succeed and that is good for our businesses, our employees and for our nation's economy.
This blogger graduated from Goldman Sachs' 10,000 Small Businesses program. Goldman Sachs is a partner of the What Is Working: Small Businesses section.