Thursday, June 7, 2012
Start Your Own Success Squad
Since we're winding down the 'women are freaking awesome week' I'd like to post about how connecting with other women face to face, especially those that own their own small businesses, has changed my life for the better and that I encourage you to create your own Success Squad!
One of the best things about 2012 is that I've been heading up an incredible group of women who own small creative businesses called the Success Squad. The name is very cool, yes, but it wasn't my idea. I read about a Success Squad that Jennifer Lee, of The Right Brained Business Plan, was in and I just knew that I had to start my own. I remember talking about the Success Squad back in November or December of last year and by January we had our core group.
How'd we get this core group? Well, I asked a bunch of women that I knew or was getting to know and my sister asked some of her friends too and there's our group! You might think we're a motley crew because we all have different backgrounds and professions, but we're finally at the place where we're starting to see overlap in what we do and how we market ourselves. It is really freaking cool!
We meet once a month and share what we've accomplished in the past 30 days and then plot out our aspirational goals for the next 30 days. We hold each other accountable and cheer each other on through Facebook likes, blog comments, repinning on Pinterest, emails and text messages. Knowing that this group of women have my back makes me so incredibly happy! And if I was ever struggling with something, I can bring it to the group and they will do everything in their power to help me. Advice, encouragement, ass kicking, suggestions, recommendations and referrals are part of being in the group. I take leading this group very seriously and I'm not always perfect at it, but I love it so much!
So, if you wanted to start your own Success Squad what do you do? Here's the recipe!
1. Find a cool name - you can totally use the Success Squad!
2. Invite a core group of women - we started out with 10 and with people's schedules and such we usually have about 6 people there. I've found that the fewer people there - the more in depth the conversation is.
3. Start a Google Group and add everyone to the group.
4. Collect everyone's information and send it out to the group. I chose to collect people's names, email, Facebook, Pinterest, blog, website, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn profile. Lots of ways to be connected these days, whoa!
5. Communicate your expectations about attendance, we have a rule that you can't miss more than 3 meetings. Is this harsh? Perhaps, but it is hard to build rapport and have honest conversations if different members are there each time.
6. Set time limits on how long people can talk. Five minutes each works for us and you're allowed to ask follow up questions to each member once they're done talking. I like this time limit because it ensures that everyone gets to talk and keeps us on task.
7. Have someone take notes. I'm the official note taker, mostly because I know what information I want collected/shared. Can you task this out to other members? Hell yes, but the quality of the notes might not be what you want. I'm kind of controlling like that - I know what I want, so I write the notes. Folks can add to them later on in case I missed a tidbit of wisdom. I always welcome additions to the notes.
8. Pick a spot to meet where there are large tables. This is easy in San Francisco because we have so many wonderful coffee shops. Some of our locations have been better than others due to noise, but just don't grab the table by the espresso machine and you should be fine.
9. Have a different discussion topic each time you meet for the second half of the meeting. The last two meetings we've had one of our members has suggested the topic and I love that. Not everything you suggest will be accepted or even considered by the group and don't take it too personally. I wanted everyone to look at this work style profile thing I'd done at my day job and no one was really into it. We talked about marketing and branding instead and that's totally fine.
10. Encourage everyone to collaborate with one another outside of the group. This has been my absolute favorite thing about being the leader of the Success Squad! The women in our group have worked together in so many different ways and it warms my heart. Collaboration is one of my favorite things about watching women work together....we do it so so differently and so so well.
11. Remember that the group you're forming is dynamic and there's an ebb and flow to how things will work/not work. Thank everyone for coming, be their biggest cheerleader and remember that this space you've created is special and wonderful and only temporary. I wish that the Success Squad we have now will be able to meet forever, but that simply isn't possible, so I cherish each email, each member and each meeting. Without these women in my life I wouldn't be as fearless as I am today.
The unofficial #12 is that if you decide to lead a Success Squad just know that at some point you are going to fuck up. What this looks like will vary from person to person, but accepting this now is important. I have many shortcomings as a leader and I try to embrace them and communicate them to my group. For instance, I don't have a ton of patience with introverted people, I make decisions for the group without checking in with everyone about how they feel about it and I don't believe in consensus. You'll figure out what you do well and what you don't, but just keep going. Lead the group, be fearless, fuck up, apologize and keep going!
Have any questions - leave a comment below and I'll do my best to answer it.
Let me know if you start your own Success Squad!