When you’re thinking of joining any group or organisation, the most obvious question is ‘why?’ In other words, what will you get and what are you expected to give? Simply liking the sound of something isn’t enough to make a commitment - you need to get specific about the purpose.
At Vistage, we believe all our members and future members benefit from being clear about what they want to achieve. Do you want to improve your rate of growth? Are you looking for impartial business advice? Do you want to grow and develop your leadership skills?
Vistage is an exclusive members’ organisation, designed to empower business leaders and executives. We offer support, advice and knowledge to help individuals grow and develop, both professionally and personally. You know who we are and what we do, but is Vistage right for you?
Do you want to power business growth?
Business growth has never been more critical than it is these days. The pace of commerce, industry and technological development means we live in a do or die era: it’s a case of grow or fail. While many companies experience a short-term edge over competitors, driving your business to reach and sustain optimum performance and profitability is a different ball game altogether.
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These were the challenges facing founder of Euro Projects Recruitment, Stephen Brown. “Like a lot of businesses that had gone through a very rapid growth phase, we hit a plateau,” Stephen told us. After sampling a Vistage Peer Advisory Group, he felt Vistage was right for him and the needs of his business. “When I see what good looks like, I want it for my company immediately’’, Stephen says. “That’s where Vistage really works as when you set your sights on something, they’ll help you identify where the roadblocks could be.”
After becoming a Vistage member, Stephen’s business achieved double digit growth in 2015, and he’s continued to see healthy business growth ever since, a success which he in-part attributes to his Vistage group’s support and help with strategic planning. In addition to this, staff engagement has improved, absenteeism has reached an all-time low and staff turnover has dropped below 3% - all as a result of advice from Vistage.
You can see Stephen’s story of how Vistage helped him achieve sustainable growth here:
Are you looking for leadership support?
Being a leader can be lonely. You’re expected to have all the answers, but what if you don’t? The truth is nobody does, which is why business leaders need the support and advice of their peers. Being a strong leader isn’t about going it alone - the best leaders ask questions, look for advice and seek different views in order to solve problems, which is what Ian Stentiford, MD of Evoqua, felt he lacked.
“When I took on the role of MD, I realised quite quickly that it can be a little bit lonely,” Ian says. “There aren’t people who are naturally of the same level as you within the organisation that you can use as a sounding board or turn to for advice.”
After joining Vistage in 2015, Ian found the support he was looking for. With a network of 22,000 business professionals, Vistage members have access to a wealth of knowledge, expertise and advice to help you overcome challenges, develop personally or just to get things off your chest.
As Ian says: “When we problem solve as a group it’s very insightful and very fulfilling for me because opinions and advice come from angles that I would never have dreamed of and I could certainly never have come up with on my own…. Within our organisation we have some tremendous engagement feedback mechanisms and in the time that I’ve been a member of Vistage, I would say our metrics have improved by a factor of at least ten percent’
Here’s Ian’s story about how Vistage has helped him grow both personally and professionally:
Do you want to broaden your business knowledge and skills?
With business executives from a range of sectors in a variety of roles, the diversity of the Vistage community allows members to learn and share knowledge - and ultimately gain a better understanding of their own businesses.
Ian Beardsmore, MD of Advanex Europe, started as an engineering apprentice working on the manufacturing floor. As his role changed, he found himself facing certain challenges. “I moved into a role as commercial manager for a company in the North East, and that was a big leap for me. I knew about engineering and sales but the running of the business, I was not so comfortable with.”
Ian recognised that for the business to grow successfully, both he and his management team needed to gain a wider understanding of the business as a whole. Here, he explains how Vistage helped him, and later, his entire senior management team, gain experience and broaden their business knowledge:
Are you looking for new ideas and insight?
Have you ever agonised over a problem or decision, just to have someone walk in and solve it in two minutes? When people are impartial and on the outside, they can often see things with a greater clarity than you might be able to yourself. Vistage offers precisely this: the benefit of business minds which are nothing to do with your business.
This is what Robert Bloxham, founder of Orb, was looking for when he joined Vistage in 2016. Robert recognised that his expertise lay in brand development and that he needed support with some of the other aspects of running a business. “Creating a great culture, corporate governance, contracts, all of these things were alien to me. Vistage really helped me to get a grip on the strategic side of the business, helping me to continually grow and work on the business rather than getting bogged down in the business”, Robert told us.
By offering a platform to openly discuss challenges and problems, Vistage members benefit from the collective knowledge and insight of the group. As Robert says: “When we discuss issues, there can be problems I have been thinking about for weeks that get sorted in an hour, that’s where I find the most value in Vistage.”
Here, Robert talks about how Vistage has helped him gain insight and find solutions to business problems:
Do you need to make dramatic changes to your business?
If you’re facing a business crisis or undergoing significant restructuring, it can feel overwhelming. This in turn can make it even more difficult to think clearly or take strong, decisive action. Vistage groups offer the support, confidence and experience you need to navigate these stressful and challenging times.
This was exactly the situation Fiona Hawkins, MD of Plinkfizz, found herself in. Unpredicted spending cuts resulted in around 80% of Plinkfizz’s clients cancelling their contracts. This in turn had an instant and dramatic effect on the company turnover. Not knowing what to do, Fiona turned to Vistage.
As she says: “It was great to see a group of individuals who had gone through very similar circumstances and as a result could offer their personal and professional experience. My Vistage Chair doesn’t allow me to settle and is constantly pushing me forward. It’s a quality I wasn’t expecting but it’s proven invaluable.”
With the support and advice of her chair and group members, Fiona made changes which saved the company. Since then she has seen financial projections increase each year by 30%, staff numbers have increased by 80%, and she’s learned how to focus on being a leader.
Here’s Fiona’s story on how becoming a Vistage member improved her leadership skills and helped her turn her company around:
Whatever your business challenges, defining them is the first step towards tackling them. Once you have a clear idea of what you want to achieve, you can decide whether Vistage is what you need.