All FounderGroups are completely peer-led. Fortunately, entrepreneurs are pretty self-driven, so organizing and running these small groups should be no problem. Below, we’ve put together a meeting format and some guidelines you might find useful in running your weekly or monthly meetings.
Choose a Meeting Facilitator
One member should be chosen as the facilitator of the meeting. We recommend choosing a facilitator ahead of the meeting so that they can make sure people know when it is, where it is, etc. This facilitator will also have some key functions during the meeting, which are described below. We also recommend members take turns being the facilitator and share the responsibility.
Start on Time
Entrepreneurs are busy with packed schedules, so make sure to set the precedent to start on time, even if some members are running late. Anyone running late is the last to share. The group needs to be respectful of each other’s time, so consider having a standing penalty that everyone agrees on.
Let Everyone Speak
Make sure to schedule enough time for everyone to get a chance to share. In our experience, people will want to share more than they realize. Depending on the size of your group, our rule of thumb is 20 – 30 minutes per group member. The meeting facilitator should set a timer to make sure everyone stays within their allotted time, to make sure everyone gets ample time before the meeting is scheduled to end.
We recommend this simple framework for what individuals share during their allotted time:
- Red, Yellow, Green
- Start by simply telling the group how you’re doing personally and professionally with a simple red, yellow, green status. Use this to give your peers some context into how things are currently going for you. This simple device will help kick-off conversations around any wins or challenges you’ve been facing in your personal and business life.
- Share at least 1 or 2 actionable goals that you have from now til the next meeting. Sharing goals will create group accountability since you’ll need to report back next meeting around any progress made on those goals.
- Share at least 1 or 2 asks of the group. This could range from advice, introductions, or even direct help with any challenges you’re currently going through. If you don’t ask, your group will not know how to be helpful even if they wanted to.
When a founder is sharing and requesting group feedback. It’s good to lay down a few ground rules for giving feedback.
- Put down your cell phones
- Unless you’re using your phone to take group notes (even then, we’d advise just using good old pen and paper), please give your fellow peer their due respect and courtesy by ignoring the distractions of your phone. I’m sure all your peer entrepreneurs have 100 things going on, but this group time is for you to engage with each other. Give every member your full undivided attention. There’s nothing more annoying than when a group is deep in feedback, and a distracted founder tries to re-enter the conversation after 2 minutes of replying to texts and checking email.
- Avoid saying “you should…”
- As insightful as we are as entrepreneurs, we often don’t really know the best course of action for another entrepreneur. Usually, unless you have some unique subject matter expertise into their business, the best we can do is offer advice and insights based on our own experience. One way to keep us honest is to avoid using phrases like “you should…”, since we don’t really know what they should do. Alternatively, try to position your advice with phrases like, “have you thought of…” or “in my experience…”. This way, it opens up more conversation, versus directing a peer to do something that might be inappropriate for their situation.
Ideally, the group facilitator should be taking notes. The most useful thing to note is what everyone shares for their goals and asks. As members share, make sure they are clear on verbalizing what those are. Not only is it helpful for you as the notetaker, it’ll be helpful for them to clearly define and be able to communicate what those things are.
At the end of the meeting, remember to share notes somewhere. Whether it’s on a shared Google doc, Slack, or plain email…make sure everyone sees each member’s goals and asks so that members can act on these things between meetings.