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BB 20-32 Deborah Laurel and PEER LEARNING for Entrepreneurs

Building your business with Sara Troy and her guest Deborah Laurel, on air from August 4th

A Benefit for Small Business Owners- Peer Learning Groups. It’s lonely at the top. I know because I have a small business. Small business owners face a steep learning curve. For many, it may be the very first time they have run a business or supervised employees. If they have the time, resources and the access, they can take advantage of classes. But the need for learning doesn’t stop at the classroom door. On a daily basis, small business owners face complex new challenges that they need to address- and they may be at a loss to know what to do.

It is also very isolating at the top. There may be a kitchen cabinet of close associates who can recommend policies and procedures, but the owner has to ultimately make the decisions. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a group of other non-competitive small business owners with whom to discuss issues, sound out options, and search out solutions? A support group where the members can speak openly and learn together? It would have to be a group that required a brief time commitment and met no more than every other month. It would be helpful if that group followed a structured process with a focus on a timely issue. In other words, if it offered a just-in-time microlearning option to support small business owners as they navigate unknown waters.

The Peer Learning Institute has developed a Peer Learning Group program that is entirely self-directed. No facilitator is required. It targets a specific management topic.

There are two 90- minute sessions a month apart. In the intervening month, the members support each other as they put what they learned into practice. They then debrief in the next session, sharing their experience. If they like, they can continue with another topic. Bridge the isolation, make it less lonely to be a small business owner. Meet with peers in your industry, share and learn from each other, create a supportive community, and become better at managing your business.

Deborah Spring Laurel is a workplace learning and performance improvement trainer, management consultant and curriculum designer. She has over thirty-five years of experience as the President of Laurel and Associates, Ltd., a certified woman-owned small business that specializes in enhancing interpersonal dynamics within organizations. She is also the CoFounder and Chief Learning Officer for The Peer Learning Institute, which establishes peer learning groups for managers or entrepreneurs to collaborate and build teamwork and support systems as they share expertise and learn new strategies to address specific workplace challenges. Deborah taught management and supervisory topics for the Executive Management Institute and the Small Business Development Center in the School of Business at UW-Madison for over twenty-five years. She has her Master’s Degree from UW-Madison.

Over the past twenty years, she has designed interactive curricula and/or conducted train-the-trainer programs and certified trainers for the: U.S. Department of Energy; U.S. Government Services Agency; U.S. Agency for International Development (in Nigeria, Jordan, Kenya and Zambia); United Nations Industrial Development Organization; Jordan Civil Society Program (Jordan); Mercy Corps (Jordan); International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (Dubai, U.A.E.); federal Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency; Microfinance Corporation (Poland); federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement; Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; Genentech, Inc.; national American Society for Training and Development; and Open Society Institute of Soros Foundation (Croatia). Deborah also consulted with J.J. Strossmeyer University in Osijek, Croatia over a period of four years to design the first Eastern European participant-based Master’s Degree program in Entrepreneurship. Deborah is published in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 Pfeiffer Training and Consulting Annuals, The Leadership Challenge Activities Book, and 101 More Ways to Make Training Active. She authored two Info-Lines: “Conducting a Classroom Learning Audit” and “Jump-Start Your Learning Objectives.” Deborah publishes a free weekly e-zine: Laurel Learning Tips. Over 830 management and training Tips can be found at:


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