The Power Of A Peer Group
Many of us started our careers being told to seek out a mentor. This fabled individual was meant to be older and wiser than us, and legend had it, if we were good enough pupils, they would bestow upon us some sage advice that would sky rocket our careers to new heights. Sounds familiar, right?
But did the prophecy of the life & career changing mentor actually play out the way that business books told us it would? From what I’ve heard friends & folks I know in the realms of accounting, tech, and business development, the fable turned out to be almost entirely fiction. Why? Well, in my experience, it turned out that these promised senior persons had bigger & better things to be doing than bestowing business advice, and those folks that were available had only outdated & unappealing ideas to offer.
When the mentor you’ve been told you must have doesn’t magically materialize or live up to the hype, there is one key recommendation you may want to consider: stop looking for someone above you and start looking around you. Look to your peers in your chosen profession, and you will be blown away by how much knowledge they have to share and how willing they are to share it. Even more valuable, rather than only being able to benefit from the ideas & opinions of a single individual, you’ll be able to access a whole trove of individuals with applicable experiences & insights.
This key lesson was one that I learned from the world of accounting. I watched this type of networking first unfold at conferences, where people quite literally transformed in the presence of their peers. At break out sessions & lunch breaks, entire conference halls would be buzzing, awash with the energy of accountants & bookkeepers eager to share what they were learning with someone else that they knew would “get it”.
The amazing things about living in this era of technology & travel options is that this energy doesn’t have to dissipate as soon as the venue hall closes. In fact, in the past few years, the accounting space has seen an incredible up-cropping of peer to peer forums designed to help firm owners to create connections & continue to learn from each other all year long. The best part about this the rise of these types of groups is that there seems to now be different types & formats for peer discussion & collaboration designed to meet the needs of just about every type of firm. Some of my personal favorite groups include:
Bookkeeping Buds - Launched in 2014 by Cindy Schroeder, this group of bookkeepers build community through regular meetings, coaching calls, and an annual conference. The group was created for bookkeepers embarking on their own to be able to encourage & support each other as they build & blossom as firm owners.
Richard’s “Not The Only One” Roundtable - Hosted monthly by the Advisor to ProAdvisors himself, Richard Roppa’s group of firm owners talk business with a side of witty banter. The community helps push each other to new heights, shares from their individual firm learnings, and even meets up in person at industry events like QuickBooks Connect.
Rootworks - Founded by firm owner & CPA, Darren Root, Rootworks has created a network filled with resources & lessons from the experiences of mid-sized CPA firms looking to transform with technology. From marketing assistance to guidance around growth goals, to technology training; Rootworks offers a bevy of valuable content & connections to their members as part of their virtual sessions and in-person events.
Thriveal - Thriveal started as the brainchild of Jason Blumer, as a way to find & connect with other entrepreneurial firm owners. Today the Thriveal network has expanded to include annual events, virtual coaching, and incubator weekends that have created a thriving community of accountants & bookkeepers that are creative, curious, and uncompromising when it comes to achieving their growth goals for their firms.
These are just a few of the incredible peer groups that are supporting & igniting growth in the people that power the accounting profession. With over 1.24 million accountants in the US alone, I’ve come to realize there is ample room for another group to join the fun. After witnessing first hand the impact that these peer groups can have on the outcomes & success of individual firms, I’ve decided at the request of several friends and firm owners to add another group to the mix:
Firm Forum - Firm forum was built for firms that are leading the pack when it comes to leveraging technology and offering client advisory services. It is designed to be a forum for firms to discuss and debunk the challenges they face when it comes to marketing, sales, hiring, & much more. The exclusive group gets access to monthly collaborative coaching sessions as well as community conversations to ignite action & accountability as they work towards their growth goals.
The biggest reason I am so passionate about peer groups is because they create opportunities for people to grow with each other. In the accounting space, I've seen an increasing move in this direction, and I think its amazing to see people you might think would operate in competition so eager to collaborate with each other. I'd be curious to know your own thoughts and experiences with peer groups. Let me know how they have impacted your career in the comments below.
Also, for those of you interested in Firm Forum, fill free to fill out an application here.