Written for EO by Nigel J. Bennett, co-founder and principal owner of Aqua-Guard Spill Response Inc.. a global leader in controlling oil spills and protecting water, the world’s most precious resource.
During my start-up years at Aqua-Guard Spill Response, Inc., none of us had any formal business training. I was so focused on our day-to-day survival that I didn’t have time to look up from the current crisis of the moment to seek any outside help. But that was about to end. Help was going to find me, and it was called the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO).
Call it serendipity or luck, but this was exactly what I had been looking for. I had been inadvertently searching for this kind of peer support for several years, but didn’t even know it existed.
“There actually are other people in the world like me. Young entrepreneurs trying to get a business off the ground and raise a young family and have a life!”
The instant I joined, it struck me: There actually are other people in the world like me. Young entrepreneurs trying to get a business off the ground and raise a young family and have a life!
A Forum of Brothers
In my EO Forum, I realized that we were all in the same boat. We had our heads down with our young businesses—not knowing which way to turn and just dealing with each day as it came at us.
What surprised me most of all was that these people weren’t the stuck-up, rich playboys I had envisioned them to be. They were regular guys just like me, young businessmen giving everything to getting their small companies off the ground while they tried to raise a family at the same time.
The decision to connect myself with the then Young Entrepreneurs’ Organization would end up changing my life and my family’s lives forever.
Over the next 15 years, the members in my Forum group all became like brothers. We had a very strict constitution that every member had to sign: We would attend monthly meetings, pay penalties for being tardy or absent and keep everything that was shared in strict confidence.
There would be no finger pointing, no statements like, “You need to do this….” Instead, sharing from experience only—and those experiences had to be our own.
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We also held two retreats a year in which each member would get a chance to present personal or business items of importance in their life to the group. The group members would then share their experiences with the same or a similar issue or situation. Many times, we would bring in an outside facilitator to help us follow our strict protocol of “no advice—just sharing.”
It was up to each of us to find value in the shared experiences within the safe space of confidentiality. I certainly did.
My belief until then was that my business was so unique that no one on the outside could possibly understand what I was going through, but with the input of the group, my thinking quickly began to shift. Each of our monthly meetings filled me with so much sharing and learning about the family/business balance.
I came to understand that all businesses are similar, and that all business owners have a lot to share.
Where Magic Happens
Most of the time, entrepreneurs feel isolated, incorrectly believing that no one can possibly understand what we deal with on a day-to-day basis. Yet isolation can be one of the biggest things blocking us from learning what we need to know.
“Isolation can be one of the biggest things blocking us from learning what we need to know.”
What do I mean by that? Well, I noticed that for the first few years, pretty much everyone in our Forum group, including me, operated in survival mode. As we shared failures, and what we did wrong but would not repeat, as we shared the stories of what we did to get through it all and celebrated each other’s victories, things started to change for the better. Tears were shed. We became tight brothers who could trust each other. With this trust, came results. We helped one another with tough business decisions and difficult personal issues.
When we opened up to the group, magic happened. In time, we all started moving in a positive direction…and then things started to speed up exponentially.
In my new book, Take that Leap: Risking It All for What Really Matters, I re-count how joining EO helped my transformation from a drowning entrepreneur to living the entrepreneurial dream. I share how I was able to set up my business to thrive and run without me. I was even was able to take a year away to travel around the world with my family.
For more information on my book, go to Amazon or www.nigeljbennett.com. All proceeds from the book and speaking engagements are disbursed to organizations whose work aligns with my family’s commitment to environmental sustainability, social justice and spiritual fulfillment.
Nigel J. Bennett is an award-winning entrepreneur and a co-founder and principal owner of Aqua-Guard Spill Response Inc. He is the author of Take That Leap: Risking It All for What Really Matters. He has been a member and recent speaker at the prestigious Entrepreneurial Masters program at MIT in Boston, a founding member of Tiger 21 Canada and was a member of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization for 15 years. He and his company recently received the RuleBreaker Award for game-changing innovation in technology. Nigel also received the British Columbia Institute of Technology’s 2018 Distinguished Alumni of the year award.