It Doesn’t Make Sense to Join a CEO Peer Group When Trying to Navigate a Pandemic…

… Unless You Want Your Business to Survive the Pandemic

You didn’t sign up for this. People warned you about the long hours and tough decisions when you started or took over the business. But no one said anything about running a business during a pandemic! Yet here we are, over a year-and-a-half in, and it seems like the hours are getting longer, the decisions are getting tougher, and planning feels like trying to hold onto a handful of Jell-O.

So, who can make the time commitment to join a CEO peer group like Vistage, EO or the Entrepreneur and Family Business Council (EFBC) at DePaul in times like this? YOU can. And it may very well be what helps you survive, dare we even say thrive, as the business world reshapes and reconfigures.

Drive Time, Shower Thoughts and 3 a.m.

You rush all day, putting out fires or trying to grab opportunities like you are playing whack-a-mole – knock one down and another one pops up. You’re either in hyper-growth mode or survival mode. There doesn’t seem to be much in-between these days. And regardless of which scenario you are dealing with, time is the most precious commodity in both.

But when things do quiet down – maybe during your commute, in the shower, or at 3 a.m. when your brain wakes up hours before the alarm – that’s when the toughest questions creep in. How long will this super-charged economy last, and if I scale to meet demand, what happens when that demand fades? Are there any costs I can control? How do I get materials and attract talent? And the dreaded – Can I really lead us through this?

It is in those moments – or shortly after, as you still need to drive, shower and sleep – that you can start gaining your time back. Instead of all-consuming commute questions, endless shower thoughts, and interrupted sleep, you can gain answers, support and community in an organization like EFBC.

The Value of Time

It isn’t easy to put a dollar value on your time, especially when it is in short supply. Nor is it easy to quantify the dollar value of having a community invested in your success as much as they are their own. But real-world experiences from business owners illustrate the ROI you can receive when investing your time in a peer group.

“When I was faced with one of the most challenging times as a business owner, I found our lifelines from several fellow EFBC members. When our existing retail, event and tradeshow business all but stopped due to COVID, we shifted our production operations to producing face shields. Our biggest bottlenecks were in cutting the face shield blanks and the assembly process. I discovered that fellow EFBC member Susan Jania-Foley and the team at Diamond Envelope had the capability of die-cutting the face shield blanks, taking us from cutting 1,000 parts per day to over 10,000 parts per day by partnering with them. I reached out to Nirel Inman at Chicago Glue and Machine, another EFBC member, looking to buy hot melt glue sticks and it turned out that she was able to set us up with an automatic glue line that allowed us to speed up the assembly process. So, when you ask me the value of EFBC, my response is I owe the survival of my company during COVID to this community.”

-  Andy Sanghani, President of Systematics

"One of our HR associates attended the EFBC event  “A Frank Conversation about Health Insurance” presented by Strategic Partner Marcus Newman of GCG Financial. Marcus outlined GCG’s strategy of utilizing health benefits as an alternative to other types of compensation. Our team at Progressive Industries implemented this strategy, enhancing our current health benefit program to provide our current team with better coverage and arming us with a powerful instrument to attract future talent. Every business owner knows the value of keeping great people and adding new ones to your team in a market like this: Priceless.”

-Neil O’Donnell, Executive Vice President of Business Development at Progressive Industries

“Call it COVID-fatigue or lack of attention, but after receiving our PPP loans I missed information on the Employee Retention Credit (ERC) that is also available. Thankfully the team at Cray Kaiser – an EFBC Strategic Partner – was paying attention for me. They helped us apply and we will be receiving a credit for over $25k. Those dollars are much appreciated but knowing that I am surrounded by a community who I can rely on to see the things I don’t – that is the true value for me.”

 - Patty Rioux, President of ODEA

Tick Tick Tick

Are you ready to get some of that time back from those worrisome drives or 3 a.m. restless mornings? Even if you can’t commit to joining a monthly Forum group meeting, at least give yourself the gift of getting involved in a community. Someplace like EFBC where you can still benefit, find education, connect with other biz owners who can share experience, and so much more. And when the “new normal” takes shape and you might consider a group, you already have a foundation.

For more information on how EFBC’s community of business owners can help you and your company, please do not hesitate to reach out to Rick Rasmussen at

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