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IO Peer Groups: When you need an entrepreneurial helping hand

Jan 13, 2022

1,124 words | 4 mins

It’s the start of a new year, and as an entrepreneur or business owner, you may have some goals in mind to crush and tackle head-on to elevate your business. Entrepreneurship is no easy feat and requires time, money, and energy spent alongside playing many roles for your business to succeed. And sometimes, it can be a lonely and stressful journey.

But through the grit and grind of the entrepreneurial lifestyle is the potential for a rewarding and fulfilling journey of growth, success, passion and purpose. And what’s better than to be alongside peers and seasoned business professionals to tackle business issues together with people who have been or are in your shoes.

Invest Ottawa Peer Groups

Enter Invest Ottawa (IO) Peer Groups—designed and delivered to help business owners grow and scale their companies. Whether you’re looking for ways to innovate your business, want a fresh perspective from entrepreneurs who have been there and done that or peers to hold you accountable, IO Peer Groups can help you and your business accelerate.

In this blog, we’ll walk you through what IO Peer Groups are, what they offer, who is eligible, and how to get started using this business support service provided by Invest Ottawa.

What is an IO Peer Group?

Generally speaking, business peer groups are a group of fellow business owners and executives who often face similar challenges in their professional roles. The objective of these groups is to provide advice and perspective in ways that employees and customers cannot. Of course, we all know friends and family members also like to chime in with their insight. However, we understand that this may not be the soundest business advice. Instead, peer groups help you innovate and grow while staying accountable to your goals.

The IO Peer Groups is a place for vulnerability; peers may be struggling with the same issues while others can lend insight, objective advice, and perspectives simply because they have been through the same challenges. Our peer groups combine group sessions of 10-15 entrepreneurs with one-on-one coaching to help you tackle challenges and accelerate your personal and professional growth offering:

  • 10 group sessions a year
  • Up to 6 hours of one-on-one time with a business advisor per year
  • Groups comprised of non-competing businesses
  • A safe place to share challenges and successes
  • Advice and guidance from members and business advisors
  • Peer insights and support
  • A community that holds you accountable
  • Emotional support
  • A strong network

Who is eligible?

If you’re a business owner, founder or co-founder, or CEO, and your business generates an annual revenue between $50,000 and $750,000, then you can apply to be a part of our peer groups. We also ask that you are committed to your growth, as attendance is a requirement.

Who facilitates the IO Peer Groups?

A great benefit of our peer groups is the leadership and facilitation by seasoned entrepreneurs in the Ottawa business community who have been through the trial and tribulations of what it takes to run a successful business.

Meet Invest Ottawa Business Advisors Karla Briones and Mark Sutcliffe, who happen to have a plethora of business knowledge and experience across industry sectors:

Karla Brionesheadshot of karla briones – Karla is an immigrant serial entrepreneur passionate about helping others succeed in their business journey. She has successfully operated multiple businesses in retail, food and beverage, and e-commerce alongside Karla Briones Consulting—a business consulting and strategy agency for BIPOC and underrepresented entrepreneurs that help clients launch, grow and scale their business. She’s also a small business columnist for the Ottawa Citizen and is recognized for her achievements in entrepreneurship as the recipient of the Nation’s Capital Immigrant Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

Mark Sutcliffeheadsho of mark sutcliffe – Mark is a veteran in entrepreneurship whose mission is to help business owners, CEOs, entrepreneurs, and leaders live more meaningful lives and become better leaders. At the age of 19, he’s launched, owned or invested in more than ten companies and created dozens of products and services, including the Ottawa Business Journal. Having mentored and advised more than 100 business professionals, Mark has industry experience in media, sports, and tech. He currently is CEO of Digging Deep Group Inc., where he hosts the Digging Deep podcast aimed to support leaders alongside boutique consulting practice Sutcliffe + Whalen.

I’m interested, what’s next?

If you’ve made it this far and believe that you’d be a good fit for the IO Peer Groups, here’s what you need to do next!

  1. Submit your application by visiting our website.
  2. Once your application has been reviewed, you will be contacted for a 30-minute exploratory consultation.
  3. If you feel a good rapport with one of IO peer group advisors and meet the eligibility requirements, the next step would be to sign a contract provided every year and pay a $250 monthly fee. Finally, if you decide the peer group service is no longer needed, a 90-day notice is required to exit.

I’m still interested, but I don’t meet the requirements.

Fret not! We wouldn’t be Ottawa’s lead economic development agency if we didn’t have the community connections, resources and services to support entrepreneurs across the various stages of their business venture. While we are currently in the works of having different types of IO Peer Groups, if you don’t fall within the $50,000 to $750,000 annual revenue threshold, consider the following support programs and offerings by us:

Starter Company Plus
If you’re just getting started in building your business and are looking to build a strong foundation and need the guidance and community to make it happen, consider our training and mentorship program, Starter Company Plus. Starter Company Plus aims to equip entrepreneurs with the knowledge and guidance necessary to help launch or grow early-stage, non-tech, Ottawa-based businesses.

Business Advisory Services
Entrepreneurs in Ottawa have the opportunity to have access to free one-off advisory services. With over ten business advisors on our roster with different skills and experience, our advisory services can get you tailored guidance from a business expert who will help address your needs and challenges.

Subject Matter Experts
We work alongside subject matter experts like Logan Katz, Nelligan Law, MDK Business Law, MNP, and Smart & Biggar, to name a few, to offer high-level legal and accounting consultations to put you on the right track when necessary.

Get in touch

Feel like you’re ready to get vulnerable, tackle challenges with like-minded peers, and hold yourself accountable while also receiving one-on-one expert consultation to drive the evolution and growth you want to achieve? Our hand is extended, and we are ready to help. Apply to become part of the IO Peer Groups today or contact [email protected] if you want to learn more!

Original Article on Invest Ottawa

Invest Ottawa
Invest Ottawa, is Ottawa’s leading economic development agency for fostering the advancement of the region's globally competitive knowledge-based institutions and industries. Invest Ottawa delivers its economic development services through a unique partnership with the City of Ottawa, where the City and Invest Ottawa, through its members set the strategy and manage the programs that move Ottawa’s economy forward. Invest Ottawa is a non-profit, partnership organization that operates on an annual budget that comes from a variety of sources including: municipal, federal and provincial government; membership fees; professional development programs; and private sector contributions.

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