Who Can Join?
The Small Business Virtual Roundtables are for small business owners and key members of family businesses with revenues from $500K to $20mm. With at least three employees, that have been in business for at least three years, in any industry sector or geographic area.
Roundtables can be as small as six members or as large as 15 ensuring that all members’ issues are addressed.
Meetings are held monthly and last for 90 minutes. Starting times are determined based upon the time zones of members. Upon request, members have the option of an additional 1-hour, one-on-one session, per quarter, with the facilitators and/or Corporate Partners on their specific issues.
Roundtables are conducted virtually, via Zoom, and will be facilitated by experienced consultants who have had substantial experience as business owners and/or advisors to small businesses.
Facilitators go through a tight screening process and prospective members are also screened by the facilitators to ensure that they will be active participants and contributors.
The main purpose of the Virtual Roundtables is to create a “peer-to-peer” advisory group that can openly address any business issue of concern to any attendee (even guests) to share ideas, solve problems, and support one another through insight critical to their ongoing success in a supportive, confidential, and “safe” environment.
Peer to Peer Advisory - How It Works
The format of the roundtable is for a member to present an issue to the group requesting feedback and suggestions about how the issue might be addressed. Fellow members ask the attendee questions and come up with some recommended solutions that the member considers and commits to some action if appropriate.
The facilitator's role is to foster participation, develop camaraderie, maintain order (e.g., not having any particular members dominate the discussion or take members "over the cliff" with their input) … and attract potential new members.
While members have no formal obligation to adopt ideas presented, they will be encouraged and supported to follow through and take action based upon guidance offered by fellow members…whether that be in the form of a friendly reminder, additional guidance, or just a good old kick in the butt!
Outside “experts” may be called upon to provide a unique viewpoint when several members have specific questions, problems, or issues that can help all the members.
Corporate Partnership Program
The goal is for roundtables to have a minimum of two professional organizations (e.g., law firms, accounting firms, insurance agencies, wealth management firms, etc.) as sponsors who can attend meetings and participate without selling, but with attribution at each meeting.
Membership includes 1-hour per quarter, per member of free 'consultation' from any of the Corporate Partners on matters addressed at a meeting (i.e., not a "freebie" to get their wills done by the law firm). A majority of the interactions with sponsors will also be virtual. They will not be permitted to solicit members as clients directly… nor will our facilitators.
What does it cost to become a member?
Our membership fee for the virtual roundtables is meant to be affordable by even the smallest companies ($250 per month, payable quarterly) and a small fraction of the annual membership fee of most other groups that can go as high as $20,000. But there is an even more significant cost to consider: your time! We meet VIRTUALLY, so you save time and fuel.
Request a Guest Invitation to a Roundtable
Fill out the form below to request a guest invitation.
Frequently Asked Questions
What exactly happens at these roundtables?
Simply put, a business owner (either a member or a guest attendee) within your roundtable (6-15 members) will present an issue to the group that they are facing. Fellow members respond by posing questions intended to gather more information and stimulate some thinking not only by the attendee who asked the question but also by the other attendees.
That usually starts a cascading series of other questions and then possibly some specific guidance on the issue. What makes it so practical and valuable is that, most often, the other members discover they have a similar situation but hadn’t thought to present it. That process allows multiple members to benefit from a single issue being posed. Better yet, it helps address issues that might have otherwise just continued to fester.
Do I have to be an owner to attend?
Yes, except we permit family members, who work in the business, to also attend if approved by the member-owner… and that’s at no additional membership fee.
How much time is required of the owner to attend?
Each roundtable is purposely limited to 90 minutes, once a month, while most other groups require ½ day or more per session and some even require twice per month. And then there’s that “virtual thing” – no need to get in your car and go anywhere. Plus, we offer an additional optional monthly 30-minute one-on-one session which the member can schedule with a facilitator.
Do you make members spend time doing "homework" and exercises like some other groups?
No. There are plenty of other targeted resources for that. We are not a ‘teaching venue’. Rather, we are meant to be a trusted source for ‘a 2nd opinion’ from peers — even when the member posing the issue believes they have the answers, or perhaps is simply looking to hear what others have done in a particular situation. As well, they may simply want to brainstorm a specific issue – not discuss some theoretical idea. Simply put, this is their PRIME TIME to get feedback on matters that keeps them up at night – whether about their dreams or worries – and hear what their peers can offer on the issue.
How does the group help its members to make sure ideas are adopted and implemented?
When it comes to "accountability", which is one of the important benefits of being a member, we know our members are adults and don’t need to be reminded to "brush their teeth"… and they certainly won’t put up with somebody just pestering them. Rather, we create accountability by fostering a spirit that is respectful, empathetic, supportive, and inquisitive. But we also know how to give someone a "kind nudge" when they drag their feet to implement ideas they have already agreed with. A kick in the butt in our groups usually ends with a "thank you" from the member who posed the issue.
How do I avoid being in the room with someone I view as a competitor or simply don’t feel comfortable with?
That’s an important concern in our vetting of potential members and it goes BOTH ways. That’s why we happily provide up to 3 CONSECUTIVE complementary meetings so that you can get a feel for the group and vice versa. At worst, you may request to move to another group… with that group’s same vetting process. Of course, we wouldn’t knowingly put two competing companies into a group unless each consented. That said, they come from different geographic areas and get the benefit of talking to a "like-kind" industry member.
Why do you have "Corporate Partners" (aka "Sponsors") as members and what is their role?
Our dues are partially supported by our Corporate Partners (who are, typically, law, accounting, and wealth management firms, among others) and we pass that savings on to our members. More importantly, our Corporate Partners are a valuable resource for common issues on legal, financial, tax, and a host of other common issues. They even participate, the same as the members, in presenting their own business issues. And while members are free to approach our Corporate Partners for additional support, our policy for ALL attendees is "no direct solicitation".
How can I be assured nothing I say at the roundtables will be repeated outside the meetings?
While there is no practical way to track that, in all the years we have facilitated such meetings, we have never had a breach that has been brought to our attention… even in "bedroom" business communities. We believe that people who become members are a bit special in that they "get it" when it comes to honoring the trust of others… at least our experience has shown that.
What happens when I feel I’ve gotten all I want or need?
Since dues are payable quarterly, you are free to resign but no refund is available for unused months in the quarter. Then again, you may just need a "refresh" and might choose to move to another roundtable group within our organization.
What Others Are Saying...
As a 3rd-generation company that I’ve been leading for 3 decades, I don’t need the group to tell me HOW to run my business. But the complexity of business today leaves me (and other members) to scratch our heads and wonder ‘what are others doing?’. Whether it’s employee compensation, marketing materials, leadership challenges, opening a 2nd location, collections, employee matters, or potential acquisitions, I know I can count on constructive, respectful, and practical feedback from my peers.
As a single member professional services firm, getting varied opinions and experiences for the challenges facing my company were sometimes un-nerving, but the variety of owners who spoke confidentially on topics that I may face in the future is invaluable. While the opinions received may be from owners of similar or totally different industries, they always offer useful nuggets of knowledge to facilitate my operations. Most importantly, the group regularly bring up topics that I haven’t faced yet, or wouldn’t have thought to ask. That helps me avoid some of the bumps and bruises of building my business.