Small business peer advisory is a well-established industry, with brands like Vistage, Young Presidents Organization (YPO), and Entrepreneurs Organization (EO) each boasting tens of thousands of members worldwide, and other brands including The Alternative Board (TAB), Women Presidents Organization (WPO), and Renaissance Forums boasting many thousands more. There are also a growing number of niche brands, such as the Christian-oriented Convene and C12 chapters, and even peer advisory for the already-wealthy such as TIGER 21. Why then, would a business leader choose a small local brand like LoCo Think Tank, boasting around one hundred members in chapters scattered across Northern Colorado?
After nearly 10 years of growth and evolution to our chapter models, I've got some ideas as to why LoCo Think Tank boasts a large market share in our region and is chosen over these national brands, and I thought LinkedIn would be a great place to share.
- The LoCo Facilitators: Our facilitators do not purchase territories or a franchise, and they're not trying to "build a business" or develop a significant income stream. They're high-achieving business veterans who view this role as more of a give-back than a significant income source, and we honor them for their investment of time and talent. As such, they are often more qualified than the group leaders that other brands attract, and we ask less of them. Almost all of our facilitators have only a single chapter to shepherd, allowing deeper relationships and more focus; LoCo HQ finds most members through our marketing and sales efforts, and also HQ does the "yucky" stuff like billing and collections and ewww - social media and a newsletter. For the most part, high-achieving business veterans don't want to make cold calls (or warm calls) or go to lots of networking meetings either so we do that stuff for them. I'm almost embarrassed by how overqualified many of our facilitators are - but also proud and honored and blessed so we'll take it!
- Multiple Chapter Types Based on Scale & Complexity: Our chapter levels are tiered so that small business leaders can actually be with their peers! The Builders chapters typically have fewer than 5 employees, the Thinkers 5 - 25 employees, and Next Level 25+. Our placement is more about complexity of operations than it is about employee count or revenue levels, but the CEO of a 50-employee chiropractic chain has much different challenges from the proprietor of a 2-person chiropractic office. The latter would have more in common with a 1-person custom car builder! We also feature Catalyst chapters for the key employees of Thinker-level businesses, and Next Level Catalyst chapters for key employees at the Next Level. We want you with your peers, with those facing similar challenges - and bringing different skills, expertise, and natural talents!
- The LoCo Way and Culture: We're different than most because of our philosophy that "the group owns the group", and the facilitator acts as a servant to the chapter's needs, not the owner of the chapter. We cap our membership at 12 so that each can be the Focus Member at least once per year, and every existing member has a veto of every new member prospect. Chapters stay together through facilitator transitions as well - and the chapter members likewise have veto rights on any new LoCo Facilitator prospect. Be Smart, Be Kind, Be True, Be LoCal, Be the Change, Be You is our short-form values statement, and our motto is "Ask of your needs, and share of your abundance". Our members are regular people, probably mostly a little more awesome than many, doing the irregular activities of business and entrepreneurship, and LoCo Think Tank is here to support them.
- Owners and Deciders: Our Builders, Thinkers, and Next Level chapters are for the owners and deciders of small and larger enterprises. The majority are the founders of their business, although as time passes more and more of our members have acquired the business - in some cases from our previous members! - who sometimes go on to become LoCo Facilitators! The Catalyst chapters are primarily built to serve our members - these key leaders report to the final decider, and have significant decision responsibility, and the owner wishes to empower their growth. Many peer advisory organizations allow for non-owner GM's and Presidents and Directors to be members alongside the Owners & Deciders - but it's a different game when you're the final decider, so we're kinda purists about that.
- LoCommunity Experience: We are LOcal COmmunity Think Tank - we earn our revenues through peer advisory, but add value to the community in many ways. We help connect our members to one another and to community causes, and are starting to connect potential employees to our members - and helping to train current employees through collaborative workshops. We are a member of the local chambers of commerce, a member of the BBB, founder Curt Bear is an Ambassador for Realities for Children and The Matthews House non-profits - and we have relationships with business accelerators and economic development offices and more! LoCo Think Tank sponsors and produces The LoCo Experience podcast which has now published over 140 long-form conversational interviews with inspiring business leaders in our region - with dozens of guests chosen from our membership and facilitator corps - and there's more! We're working to add value to our memberships through growing expertise in Hallos Relational Intelligence training, and we're just now staring to increase awareness of business valuation through BizEquity assessments. It's a lot - but many hands make light work - and we have the best team and chapter facilitators in the region - and maybe - in any region! We are stronger together - stronger in a peer chapter than working alone to solve every new challenge - and stronger as a member of a chapter that stands among many other chapters. All involved are abundance-minded and focused on the success of their small business ventures - and pursing health and vibrancy in themselves, their family, and their local community. Thanks for reading!