The other day, I heard a small business owner who's also an ASTD-SD member say, "But I already do enough ASTD stuff. I don't need to attend another ASTD meeting!"
She was referring to my question about why she doesn't come to the ASTD Independent Consultants' Special Interest Group (ICSIG) meetings.
I can only conclude that I haven't done a very good job explaining what the ICSIG is about, because it's not "just" another ASTD event.
It's about growing your business. It's about talking with other experienced business owners about the challenges we all face in being in business - especially those of us who are sole practitioners, handling all aspects of our businesses from marketing to bookkeeping to actually delivering our product or service.
It's about collaborating with colleagues who understand the challenges we all face, helping each other find resources and answers to questions, and in some cases just saying, Yes - we understand - we get it - we've been there, dealt with that.
And of course it's about celebrating each others' victories and successes as well!
Up till now, the meetings have been informal, structured so that each person attending has an opportunity to describe a current question or challenge they're working on and receive the group's help.
At the request of the members, things are changing a little bit, and as the founder and facilitator of the group, I'm excited about the new direction.
Here's an outline of our approach, principles, and guidelines.
1. We are a group of ASTD-SD members who are experienced business owners, and we enjoy helping each other with the challenges that arise after we've been in business for a few years (not just a few weeks or months). We enjoy going deep into the questions of how to take our businesses to the next level.
2. We agree to maintain confidentiality about each others' business goals, challenges, and practices.
3. We welcome new business owners and people exploring whether they want to go into business to attend our meetings and listen to what we're working on, but we respectfully request that they seek other avenues for answering their start-up questions. Options include the Small Business Development Center (http://www.sandiegosmallbiz.com/) and SCORE (http://www.score.org/).
4. We meet monthly, on the third Tuesday of the month, from 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at a member company, CRM Learning, 2218 Faraday Avenue, Suite 110, Carlsbad. (With many thanks for their sponsorship!)
5. Our meetings are not networking or referral meetings; they're working mastermind/problemsolving meetings.
5. At one meeting each quarter, we have a speaker on a topic relevant to small business (not training & development; we get that information through other Chapter events). Topics may include business formats (sole proprietorship, LLC, etc.); taxes; organization and follow-up techniques; social media; etc.
6. At the quarterly meeting-with-speaker, we also open the floor to new business owners and those exploring whether being in business is right for them, for Q&A sessions.
Please check the ASTD-SD Calendar for information about meetings with speakers (which meeting, what speaker). Because of the challenges inherent in scheduling an outside speaker, these meetings may not be consistently the same month of each quarter.
I welcome your questions, comments, and feedback, especially if you have suggestions about speakers, speaker topics, and other ideas for us.
And if you're a business owner - please come join us!