“Your Move — Your Greatest Asset”

Taking care of your most valuable resource

Which piece of your business keeps your customers happy, ensures growth and lets you sleep at night — or maybe keeps you awake? The answer is the same for every entrepreneur. Your company’s greatest asset is you.

Many owners and CEOs of fast-growing companies work as if they’re the most important asset, running nearly 24-7.

But if they neglected a valuable capital investment the way they often neglect their own well-being, they would be called irresponsible.

There are many ways to take care of yourself. Which one will likely deliver the most value for your company?

The answer: Connecting with a CEO peer group. Here are some reasons.

Venture capitalists often require serious involvement in their portfolio companies — directors’ seats, frequent reviews, even imported management. Why? They know that several objective outsiders talking to each other are better than one hassled insider talking to the mirror. VCs want their cash back plus big growth. They’ve given this issue some thought.

And so have successful CEOs.

A recent study of CEOs at the 100 fastest-growing inner-city companies showed that 94% belonged to a business group. Fully 43% participated in CEO peer-learning groups that helped members solve business problems or exploit opportunities — and offered the kind of intangible support only peers can provide. Eighty percent rated peer-roundtable advice as valuable or very valuable. Seventy percent rated it more valuable than advice from any other source.

Explained one CEO: “No one else understands the issues an entrepreneur faces with the same clarity and immediacy as does another entrepreneur.”

And that’s apparent not only to inner-city CEOs.

Example: The owner of a $1 billion company saved $30 million by working through an issue with his facilitated CEO group. The solution came from a single question posed by the owner of a $7 million company.

Example: With the sustained help of his facilitated roundtable, the owner of a service business eventually, and with the required elegance, outflanked an equity-hungry vice president. The VP’s ace bargaining chip? His affair with the owner’s sister.

Effective CEO groups are hardworking, value-creating roundtables in which trust, expectation and commitment run high.

They are not for the fainthearted. But then what about being an entrepreneur is?

Writer: Scott Pemberton is the publisher of the Edward Lowe PeerSpectives Report. Tell him about your moves at scott@lowe.org.

Sources: Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, Edward Lowe Foundation.