Peer Advisory Groups for Entrepreneurs

I am a numbers guy through and through.  It’s just part of my DNA.  I like adding up numbers in my head.  My hobby is programming computers.  When I was a kid, I used to accompany my mother on weekly trips to the grocery store, and add up the price of everything she put in the cart.  (I actually got it right one time!)

I also love business.  When I stumbled upon financial modeling early in my career, I thought I had died and gone to heaven.  Here was something at the confluence of the two things I liked most – and I actually got paid to do it!   Back then (late 70’s, early 80’s), large companies were the only ones who could afford to do it.  The market for financial modeling software grew like wildfire because of the huge ROI of breaking free from the MIS department to rapidly develop financial reporting systems and projections.

I also love being my own boss.  I am unemployable.  Rebellious.  Big ego.  A know-it-all.  A die-hard entrepreneur.  Since I’ve had three decades of experience as an entrepreneur, I’ve experienced my share of ups and downs.  I used my financial modeling skills to get through some tough scrapes.  My mission now is to make this big-company technology available to the masses.  Smaller companies need to do financial analysis and projections just as much as the big companies.  They usually don’t have the money or the expertise.  That is where my company, SurvivalWare, fits in.

I joined NetCito, a peer advisory group for entrepreneurs about a year ago.  This was despite my disdain for touchy-feely stuff.  I think I was motivated by wanting to understand my target market better.  If I had to sit through a zen-like moment of silence at the start of each meeting, or learn about the Johari window for understanding the relationship to self and others – I figured that was the price of admission.  I was also motivated by loneliness.  I thought it sure would be  nice to interact with other entrepreneurs experiencing the same types of problems.  Living in the Washington D.C. suburbs, most of the people I encountered day to day had some connection to the government.  And I never have considered government contractors (“Beltway Bandits”) feeding at the federal trough to be real entrepreneurs.

My brother Hank had been a Vistage member for several years, and he seemed to get a lot out  of it.  He never misses a meeting.  But the cost of Vistage ($1,000+ per month?) is prohibitive for the smaller enterprise.  I never considered Vistage to be a realistic option for my company.

I have been blown away by the NetCito experience.  The comraderie, the accountability, having to think each month about what I am really trying to accomplish – have all been priceless.  In addition to the monthly meetings of our small group, there are network-wide events such as SummerCito this past week, and an annual retreat in January.  I thought I’d never utter or write words like this – but the opportunity for personal growth by stepping outside your comfort zone is real and tangible.  For a numbers guy, you can imagine how far outside my comfort zone the experience has been.

Peter Mellen, the founder, is passionate about making available the considerable benefits of  peer advisory groups to the masses of entrepreneurs.  These are people who may be just getting started, or are simply too small to afford a group that is professionally facilitated every month.  He has done it in a way to keep the membership fees affordable ($95 per month).  His method really works.

I share Peter’s passion for wanting to help entrepreneurs succeed in business and in life.  My approach has been to help with the numbers.  His is deeper and touches more on personal relationships and the meaning of life.  Both can contribute to your success.

Whether you are a startup or a veteran entrepreneur, a peer advisory group can really help.

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