As cited in a published paper by Kayla Doerr of Texas A&M University, the generic term ‘peer advisory group’ is, in essence, an information exchange established for the sake of mutual self-improvement—all members give, as well as take. Peer advisory groups are custom-built to meet the needs and wants of the members. Members respect one another’s ideas, opinions, and suggestions. Everyone actively participates in a peer advisory group—these are not the type of meetings where individuals sit in an audience and listen to others speak the entire time. Members establish the group on a foundation of confidentiality and trust. Most are small to allow all members to actively participate and to maintain this intimate and confidential relationship among group members. Many groups share very in-depth, personal, and guarded information. Although this might at times cause wariness, all the intricacies of a certain problem must be on the table for the issue to be fully understood. Typically, groups strive to keep membership constant, without a revolving door of membership, trust will develop more quickly. The group can evolve over time. For example, the group might begin to focus on different discussion topics as members’ needs change.

Forbes magazine writes “There are many wonderful things that come with being a business owner, but the role also includes a few caveats, such as feeling like you can’t properly share the challenges you encounter as an entrepreneur with your friends, family or team members who work for you. However, it doesn’t have to be lonely at the top. In fact, joining a peer advisory board might be the perfect remedy for this unique challenge.” The Forbes article goes on to describe 10 reasons why an owner should consider joining a peer advisory group. Most of these reasons that I have experienced and believe are as follows:

  1. Having a well-established group of your peers to discuss problems with can be a game-changer. If you’re looking for people who truly understand the unique challenges and pressures you face as a business owner, look no further than a diverse group of other business owners.
  2. Peer advisory boards give you the opportunity to open up fully with a trusted group of your peers — and trust is an essential element for most business owners.
  3. Many members join peer advisory groups because they believe it can help them bring more value to their company. But the non-financial values are just as important.
  4. It’s all about give and take when you become part of a peer board. Where you might have some members who help challenge you in certain areas, you also can help peers in areas where you excel.
  5. Growing your leadership skills is vital for business owners. Your peer advisory group leader/facilitator and your peers will push you to hone your leadership skills through training, mentorship and peer-to-peer coaching.
  6. It’s often said that one of the best ways to learn is by making mistakes. However, the second-best way, and perhaps the most cost-effective way, is to learn from other people’s mistakes.
  7. You’ll be encouraged to step back and identify the basics. These are the basic skills that every business owner must master to find great success. If you don’t know what these basic skills are, perhaps joining a peer board is a smart start.
  8. Sometimes we need to hear alternative views. We need to embrace different perspectives and think outside our own box to consider ideas that we previously would think could never work. A peer advisory group can help with that.
  9. In this case, the power of peer pressure is used for good. Accountability is one of the main reasons I hear that business owners want to have a coach or join a peer group. Your peer group will positively peer pressure you into moving forward with your goals.
  10. Yes, you push each other outside of your comfort zones quite often, but that’s where all the best stuff happens. If you’re looking to grow your business, to hit that next level, or if you simply need to feel like you’re not alone in the many challenges that can weigh us business owners down, then a peer advisory board could be a smart move for you.

I served as a Chair within Vistage, the world’s largest Peer Advisory Organization. Vistage executives authored a book “Power of Peers” based on a simple premise which makes total sense to me “Simply put, CEOs and business leaders provide value to one another that they can’t find anywhere else” In their book, they introduce “Peer Advantage”, a concept that transcends peer influence. That is what CEOs and business leaders experience when they are more selective, strategic, and structured in how they engage their peers. Peer Advantage gives CEOs insights to compete and the courage to act. I witnessed this in my involvement with Vistage and believe I can bring these same benefits to the Cannabis Industry.

Why not just join Vistage? In my opinion, Vistage simply costs too much money. Vistage also requires physical presence at their meetings. I am supporting a far less expensive and a virtual meeting venue. Also, I am supporting an optional 1-on-1 coaching program customized for each business leader. Please contact me at to learn more and to express interest you might have in participating in a cannabis peer advisory group. I intend to lead this group.

Don Hawley brings more than 35 years of comprehensive global financial and operational management experience to our cannabis and agricultural-based clients. Don has many years of experience in early-stage strategic planning, leading to well-thought-out business plans and related goal setting and management systems to achieve focused goals. His accounting, finance, and operational experiences include strategy development and implementation, company transformations, acquisitions and divestitures, financial and operational systems implementations, profitability, and cash flow improvement programs.