Growing companies must act quickly when an opportunity presents itself. Acting quickly, however, should not put the business at unnecessary risk. Our blogs on “Accelerating Growth and Impact” provide valuable insights for growing mid-sized and smaller companies.
For CEOs at cleantech companies, simultaneously pursuing growth and impact can get complicated. The desire for a quick impact in a competitive landscape may lead to sub-optimal decisions. This is where business mastermind groups come into play. These groups provide a collaborative space for CEOs to share insights, glean wisdom, and collectively work toward greater business success.
In this blog, we'll explore how mastermind peer groups leverage five key principles to catalyze business success: (1) Focus, (2) Prepare early, (3) 80% is (mostly) good enough, (4) Prioritize continuous improvement, and (5) Delegate wisely.
Key #1: Focus
A mastermind group composed of members with a shared mission enhances trust and openness. 3BL Peers® members share a mission of using business to solve the world’s climate and environmental problems. A multi-faceted understanding of the cleantech landscape allows members to share fresh and knowledgeable perspectives.
Members gain fresh perspectives on their mission and how best to achieve it through structured discussions, and by leveraging the group’s collective intelligence.
Example*: The leader of an innovation company was brilliant at generating ideas, but struggled with focus and implementation. Peer group members encouraged him to focus on a product that had the greatest commercial potential. The innovator received a product patent that led to lucrative licensing opportunities.
Key #2: Prepare early
3BL Peers® mastermind meetings include discussions and exercises focused on topics of shared interest. They provide an opportunity to learn new concepts. Member companies can incorporate the new learnings immediately, rather than waiting for problems before acting.
Each year, we focus one meeting on sharing annual strategic plans and receiving input. In addition, each member is spotlighted once a year. These sessions provide members the opportunity to share additional details about their business. They can then adjust plans based on member feedback.
Example*: An antifreeze recycler had a seasonal business, and the owner struggled financially during the slow periods. The coach felt that the company’s 10-year financial history would show clear cash flow trends. The company developed a financial forecasting tool that improved money management and relieved the owner’s stress.
Key #3: Prioritize continuous improvement
Each month, 3BL Peers® members can bring up a challenge or opportunity that they’re facing. The varied backgrounds and experiences of peer group members provide rich and diverse perspectives. The member incorporates what they learn into a solution customized for their specific situation.
Much of the learning happens when listening and contributing to the issues of other club members. This accelerates continuous improvement at each member company.
Example*: A plastics fabricator was overly reliant on one key client. Peer group brainstorming resulted in the development of a newsletter that highlighted recent projects. The result was increased visibility to prospective clients and more business from new and existing clients.
Key #4: 80% is (mostly) good enough
Small business leaders may fear failure when introducing a new idea or product. The margin of error for a small company is thin, so each significant change creates stress. The CEO may therefore wait until success is 100% guaranteed – an unattainable goal.
Fellow mastermind group members alleviate the fear by providing insights from their own experiences. They highlight the real risks, and identify opportunities to accelerate progress.
Behavioral assessments are used to identify the perfectionist tendencies of some members – and the reverse for others. Knowing behavioral tendencies allows members to act in ways that best support other members.
Example*: A manufacturing distributor relied on one product for 50% of his business. The relationship with the supplier was breaking down, and the distributor faced a disastrous future. The member was known for being cautious and a slow mover. With the support of the peer group, the distributor developed an improved product and established a trusted alliance with a new supplier. A dozen years later, the distributor is poised to sell his business to the new supplier and retire.
Key #5: Delegate wisely
A key aspect of accelerating company growth is hiring the right people and putting them in a position to succeed. Many small business owners lack leadership and hiring experience. Even former executives are challenged since they no longer have extensive HR support.
The 3BL Peers® mastermind group has a strong focus on leadership development. About 40% of our discussions and issues focus on managing and relating to people – employees, partners, vendors, and clients.
Example*: The CEO of a recycling business was wearing too many hats, including CEO, COO, plant manager, and sales manager. The company was understaffed, and the CEO was burning out. Much of the problem stemmed from his desire to “stay in the loop” and his reluctance to give up control. The peer group worked with the CEO to identify the causes of his discomfort with delegating. It then supported him in hiring key personnel. Over time, the CEO hired a plant manager, a financial manager, and a sales manager. The business tripled in size over 8 years, while the CEO slept an extra 2 hours each morning.
For CEOs of small cleantech companies, participation in a business mastermind group can be a transformative experience. Cleantech leaders can harness the collective intelligence of these groups to achieve sustainable growth and amplify their societal impact. Through shared insights, collaborative problem-solving, and a commitment to mission-driven success, members of mastermind groups are well-equipped to create lasting positive change in their respective industries and communities.
* Examples are taken from Zbig’s 12-year former experience as a CEO peer group franchisee.
Contact Zbig Skiba to find out more about 3BL Peers® mastermind groups for business leaders in cleantech, climate tech, and sustainability.