Counsel of their peers Featured

10:47am EDT January 27, 2006
CEOs at both large and small companies often express to me how critical mentors have been to their success in business. But as singular figures in their respective organizations, they say they find it difficult to find anyone who experiences their job in quite the same way they do.

Some suffer in silence, while others find solace in peer organizations such as the Young Presidents Organization. A few, such as a group that meets monthly at a local restaurant, form their own less-formal networks of company heads and entrepreneurs. Having a sympathetic ear and access to peers who can offer helpful advice, they say, can ease the burden of leadership and open their eyes to possibilities that they hadn’t considered.

“I know how lonely it can be to start your own business and need answers,” says Karl Schieneman, 2004 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year and founder and managing director of legal staffing firm Legal Network. “I also believe if Pittsburgh is going to find future growth, it will likely have to come from start-up businesses as opposed to hoping to attract outside businesses to relocate operations in Pittsburgh.”

Unimpressed with efforts to attract businesses from outside the region, other businesspeople express that last sentiment, as well.

No stranger to the stresses of entrepreneurship or growing a business from scratch, Schieneman, with the help of his peers, has taken on a project that could help on both counts. Schieneman is leading Entrepreneurial Lifelines, an effort to link experienced business owners and CEOs with those whose enterprises are in an earlier stage of development and need the guidance and mentorship that a seasoned business builder can provide.

Using an interactive database, www.elifelines.org connects new entrepreneurs with experienced entrepreneurial mentors. Online forms lead to in-person discussions and participation in regular Entrepreneurial Lifelines meetings.

If the pressures and problems of your own enterprise are closing in on you, maybe a visit to Entrepreneurial Lifelines, online or otherwise, will lift the burden a bit. At the very least, it could make things a little less lonely at the top.