As a small business owner have you ever felt like you needed to talk with someone who is in exactly the same position as you? Am I doing the right thing? Is this the right strategy for moving forward? Should I hire a sales director? Am I getting the full value from my website? Is it time to adjust my marketing strategy?
It really is lonely at the top. You probably can’t have this discussion with one of your employees. Your spouse is always very supportive, but not familiar with the business. Your friends don’t have the expertise to provide valuable feedback. Even talking with someone in the business is usually limited to a short superficial conversation. And hiring an outside consultant just isn’t cost-effective.
Wouldn’t it be valuable to present your issue to 11 fellow small business owners and let them hash it out…to take the interest and effort to spend an hour just on this one issue?
What if you could do that several times a year?
This is why we at SCORE Orange County started the CEO Forum Program more than three years ago.
- 12 similarly situated business owners…
- meeting once a month for a full morning…
- facilitated by two experienced SCORE Mentors…
- using a proven process for issue resolution…
- spending virtually the whole meeting on nothing but our members’ issues, and….
- quarterly speakers to bring in fresh viewpoints or to reinforce best practices.
To make sure you are meeting with a group of true peers, our minimum participation requirements are:
- 3 non-family employees
- $1 million in annual revenue in the current year or anticipated in the coming year
- in business for at least 2 years
- established commercial office, not a home office
We now have six forums operating in Central and North Orange County. The minimal cost covers facilities, food and speakers.
The topics are as varied as our membership. Some are very tactical: How should I go about firing a key employee? What is the right compensation level for my outside sales people? Some are very strategic: Should I launch a new product line? How do I pick the right management team?
For example, Ellen Clark, owner of Ellen Clark Skincare International, explained, “Recently, when I was trying to negotiate a contract with a new sales rep group, I brought my concerns to my forum and they helped me 'flesh out' what I really wanted, what was in the best interest of my business, and how best to build the agreement with my rep group.”
Often the group acts as an honest sounding board. John O’Sullivan, co-owner of Benchmark Clothing Company, said that “two months ago it was this SCORE forum which made me see the obvious. I had to stop what I was doing and address our overseas production.”
If this concept sounds interesting to you, visit our website and then click on the CEO Forum tab and complete the Briefing Invitation Request Form to be invited to a luncheon to hear about the program. Lunch is on us!
Chair, CEO Forum of SCORE OC
Business tip of the week: It always seems that you need to hire a new employee just when you are too busy to think about it. Don’t settle. Don’t hire the first person you interview. Do “beat all the bushes” to make sure you have uncovered all possible candidates, and then have your other leaders and possibly some external peers interview your finalists. It’s worth the time!