Starting a new business is a huge challenge, and it’s even more difficult if you’re not aware of your strengths. The struggle for most entrepreneurs is knowing where they’re strong, where they’re weak, and how to still make their business succeed. I saw a need in my local community and created a group to reinforce strengths-based development.
While living in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, I became involved with 1 Million Cups, a weekly connecting point for entrepreneurs. The rate of new business growth in the Upper Midwest continues to rise, and I saw a need to support the development of entrepreneurs as leaders. After a transformative experience in uncovering my own StrengthsFinder results, I realized that it would be an ideal vehicle to provide value.
In fall 2014, Sioux Falls—a city of 168,000 (metro of 350,000)—did not have any opportunities to discuss strengths-based development. I discovered that many entrepreneurs, business owners, and students were interested in receiving training and support. The only thing missing was a way to start the discussion.
In October 2014, I created a Meetup group and invited people to join me twice a month for accountability and a chance to share their stories over lunch. The meetings were for business owners, students, and local leaders. They were designed to facilitate discussion about attendees’ Top 5 strengths and the challenges of managing others.
Our events took place twice a week for 1-1/2 hours at conference rooms in CorTrust Bank and Kilian Community College. The first half-hour was for networking, and the remainder was a combination of training, group and individual activities, and discussions. Topics included:
- Top 5 Strength Highs & Lows for the Week
- Four Domains of Leadership
- StrengthsFinder versus Myers-Briggs
- Balcony and Basement Strengths
- Strengths Qualities in Famous Movies
- Team Grid and Scenario Role-Playing
- “Difficult People” Exercise
- Strengths Frequency and Male/Female Strength Themes
Our meetings were free and open to all members of the community. Each meeting concluded with a feedback form to engage with participants and receive ideas on future topics and locations. Responses were overwhelmingly positive.
The “Develop Your Strengths” Meetup group peaked at 154 members, with 45 active members. Because many attendees were unfamiliar with other services for entrepreneurs, this presented an opportunity to promote events like 1 Million Cups and industry-specific meetings.
Over time, “Develop Your Strengths” members became more closely connected. The impact of this group is ongoing. One attendee shared how much this group helped him “think differently about my own personal strengths and also helped me to reluctantly identify my weaknesses.”
Another told me “I appreciate you sharing your insights and knowledge. You showed true intellect and spoke with genuine logic.”
Several attendees became my consulting clients and received additional coaching and business strategy services. Others benefited from increased sales, higher levels of confidence in growing their own business, and new work opportunities.
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