The Power of a Peer Group

When I began working on CCAW full time, I was doing it out of my apartment (WeWork didn’t exist). It was 2008. Because of the financial crisis, I was trying to stay lean and keep the lights on. After a few years, I started to feel like the only human on a tiny island. My personal network could no longer relate to my professional struggles (my family and friends didn’t have entrepreneurial experience). Conversations increasingly ended with, “Well . . . I hope you figure that out.” It was discouraging. I had gone from interacting daily with peers and higher-ups in corporate America to seldom communicating with anyone professionally (except by email and phone). There was no way for me to talk through my struggle with anyone who understood.

Deciding things needed to change, I sought out entrepreneurial groups. I found Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) and was super-excited until I learned that I needed $1M in annual revenue to qualify (I was at about $200k–$300k at this point). I kept pushing forward and discovered that someone I knew was a member of EO’s Atlanta chapter. We discussed my predicament, and he told me that EO had created EO Accelerator for people in my position (less than $1M, but with the potential to reach $1M with some help). I asked for a warm intro to the person running EO Accelerator in Atlanta.

Joining EO Accelerator was a turning point in my entrepreneurial journey. Just like that, I was part of a group of peers—people who had taken action on their entrepreneurial dream (they had customers and revenue), were at about the same place (less than $1M), had similar goals (grow to $1M+), wanted accountability (we met once a month for four hours), and were committed (we had to pay an annual fee).

The experience turbocharged my growth. I was now learning from the successes and failures of others, which saved me a lot of time. I was exposed to entrepreneurs in other industries and was able to apply best practices from those industries to my space (this is how I was introduced to tech). I presented my ideas and got unbiased feedback from peers. Within a few years, CCAW’s revenue exceeded $1M and I had a great professional network and a great set of friends. Joining EO Accelerator was pivotal and I’m thankful that EO created the program.

Whatever you’re trying to do, don’t go it alone if you don’t have to. There’s a lot to be gained from working with and learning from other people in similar situations.