“A business is like a shark–if it isn’t always adapting, changing, innovating … moving, it’ll die. As a leader of your business, it’s your job to always be learning and coming up with new ways to move your business forward. To always be in an environment of personal, mental and spiritual growth, surround yourself with others who are on the never-ending path to sef-improvement. Read, watch videos, listen to books on tape, attend conferences, classes and events. Figure out which growth methods stimulate you best and dive in head first.”
This is from the book, “The Harvest Way 1.0” by NALP consultant members Ed Laflamme and Bill Arman of The Harvest Group. Their business partner Fred Haskett ran a conversation at a Breakfast With Champions table at NALP’s LANDSCAPES event. He addressed questions on belonging to mastermind groups and how they can help landscape businesses.
Business Groups 101
Mentor and peer groups have been around for hundreds of years, Haskett says. “They were formalized in the 1800s,” he explains. “People like Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller had formal groups like this.”
In the last 15 to 20 years, these groups have gained traction in the lawn and landscape industry.
Business Groups – General Makeup
Peer groups exist that are general in makeup, as well as specific. Many times, groups will include businesses of similar size and model to create the best conversations.
Most of the time, companies that are part of peer groups are noncompetitive so trust can develop among members.
Peer groups are typically self-governed. The company members dictate the timing of meetings (once or twice a month, for instance) and where and when they want to get together, Hasket says.
Business Groups – The Leader
When a company joins a peer group, the representative–usually the owner–can be a facilitator or a full participant, Haskett explains.
A facilitator keeps the conversation focused on planned topics of discussion and out of irrelevant rabbit holes. A full participant can share business experiences with the group just like the other companies.
Most of the time, companies Haskett has worked with choose to have him as a full participant. Since he has 40-plus years of indusry experience, this enables him to share his opinions and thoughts with the group. “I’ve screwed up just about everything one can screw up in my history, so I have learned many of the same lessons they are going through and can offer advice,” he shares.
Business Groups – Topics
What do peer groups talk about? Everything is fair game as long as it’s helpful to the participating businesses.
“We get together and we ask questions and go to dinner,” Haskett explains. “We go to each others’ businesses and then each business owner gives individual repots, going over their finances and business plans in a uniform manner using templates I provide.”
Haskett says there’s usually a theme for each meeting. He presents a day of content around the theme or had a guest speaker come in. “But usually I don’t present approximately 40 percent of what I prepare because the conversation takes a natural turn that is helpful for all the businesses.”
Topics range from the nuts and bolts of business operations to work/life balance and getting enough sleep or business survival tactics or finding glitches in finances or working in family businesses, Haskett shares.
Most peer groups have six to eight business participants. Each group will have its own flavor. But most of the time the businesses will have similar makeups and revenue so companies can relate to each other as they battle similar challenges.