Through the Advance Iowa program, “Founder Frank” is a pseudonym we use to describe many of our clients. He could easily be Freda, Francine, or even Frodo – but for these purposes let’s assume it’s Frank. If you’re a business owner like Frank, you might be in a situation now where you’ve started your firm from nothing and have built it to a size and scale where you’re now at the top of a significant organization. You’ve gone from chief cook and bottle washer to having a staff around you.
With success comes growth and complexity, and hopefully profits. Frank has learned to navigate this growth not with a road map or a textbook, but often by learning the hard way- which is to say the expensive way. What started as a way for him to make a living has now grown into a way for him to provide a living to others.
This is where the loneliness can start. The decisions you are continuously faced with making often happen within the vacuum of your own lens. You may not have “VP level talent” at your disposal to bounce ideas off of. And even if you do, some situations are harder to bring to those that report to you. Even though it’s no longer just you in the business, it can often feel that way when you are faced with challenges and opportunities.
So what are your options? I’m glad you asked! There are a plethora of ways to insulate yourself from the loneliness factor. One we’ve been focused on at Advance Iowa is Peer Learning, i.e. learning from the experiences of other business owners rather than constantly blazing your own path through the jungles. To be clear, the Round Table concept has been around a long time (at least since King Arthur and his buddies), so this isn’t something we’ve invented. The term itself “Round Table” – has been used and abused for lots of different groups. We understand the value of interacting with your colleagues who face similar leadership and business situations. It’s not a networking or referral group – those are everywhere. We use a process to keep the group organized and focused on moving through their issues and getting the group’s collective feedback on how they’ve handled similar situations.
The view at the top can be lonely, but it’s often the best view of all. For more information about how you can get involved in a Round Table in your area, please contact Jayne Kielman at email@example.com
Dan Beenken, Director of the UNI Small Business Development Center