Business Sororities and Fraternities
In colleges, when students need a feeling of belonging, they turn to sororities and fraternities to serve that need. Entrepreneurs need the camaraderie of other entrepreneurs – other people who are crazy enough to start their own businesses, stick to it, grow it and continuously take it to the next level and sell it. Solopreneurs can be lonely. Business partners have issues they don’t want to discuss with their partners – especially if the issue is the partner. Husbands want to talk about their business partner wives. One family member wants to fire another. Shrinks just don’t understand – you have to be in it to understand it.
Where can business owners go to have valuable discussions and get constructive feedback and vet their ideas for new products and services? There are organizations, similar to sororities and fraternities, which were created for exactly this purpose. A business owner feels safe within this environment as each member must sign a confidentiality agreement. There is a professional facilitator who leads the peer discussions. Each group has its own dynamic and I belong to several of them as I get different feedback from each one.
Here are five of the more popular business organizations.
- Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO) – The WPO is a non-profit membership organization for women presidents of multimillion-dollar companies. Members of the WPO take part in professionally-facilitated peer advisory groups in order to bring the ‘genius out of the group’ and accelerate the growth of their businesses. Participants must have over $1 million in revenue. Women only.
- Vistage – Vistage groups meet once a month to solve problems, evaluate opportunities and work on an assortment of strategic and operational issues. They are confidential forums of experienced executives who rely on each other for wisdom and counsel. Men and women members.
- Inc. Business Council (www.iboc.com) – Inc. Business Owners Council is a peer-to-peer network of top entrepreneurs brought to you by Inc. Magazine. Like the magazine that created the Inc. 500/5000, The Council offers its members an exclusive network to help them reach their next level of success. This group focuses on fast-growing entrepreneurs and many are on the Inc. 500|5000 Fastest Growing Companies in America list. Men and women members.
- National Association of Women Business Owners (www.nawbo.org) – NAWBO is the only dues-based organization representing the interests of all women entrepreneurs across all industries; and boasts over 5000 members and 60 chapters across the country. With far-reaching clout and impact, NAWBO is a one-stop resource to propelling women business owners into greater economic, social and political spheres of power worldwide. Women in all industries, from start-up to multi-million dollar businesses, are included. Women only.
- C200 (www.c200.org) – The Committee of 200 (C200) members are the world’s most successful corporate leaders and entrepreneurs. They have made groundbreaking steps for women in a diverse set of industries, and their vision and influence make them role models for women worldwide. Half of C200 members run businesses with revenues in excess of $100 million, while 22% of members represent businesses with revenues in excess of $500 million. Women only.
There is a group for every business owner, male or female, regardless of revenue. They serve as your unofficial board of advisors. Most groups are international so a business owner can find a chapter in their geographic area. Members become good friends as well as strategic business partners. Join one.