Eric Kyllo

SMIF coordinates a number of Peer Councils – informal networks of regional business owners – with the goal of strengthening the small business community in southern Minnesota. These networks provide a space for entrepreneurs to learn from each other how to best grow and sustain their businesses.

How long have you been part of SMIF’s Peer Council?

I joined about nine years ago. There’s about 13-14 other small business owners in the Peer Council I’m involved in.

What led you to get involved?

I liked how informal the group was, but also how useful. We get to set our own agenda.

There’s a real benefit to coming together as small businesses to discuss common problems across different industries.

We’ll talk about things like the state of the economy – should I be cautious? Optimistic? These things can be hard to get a good sense of through your individual, narrow lens.

How has being involved benefitted your business and career?

It really helps me get a pulse on the larger small business community. I also recently launched my own small business consulting enterprise, and the Peer Council was a big part of feeling ready and able to do that. They encouraged me that there was a good need, it was a good time, and that they would support me through it. So far, it has been going wonderfully. It was great decision.

Why would you recommend participating in a Peer Council to other small business owners?

A Peer Council helps you work on your business versus in your business.

We meet every two months, so it’s not a huge time commitment, but when you get out for half a day and talk to other business owners, it helps you think about what you should be thinking – a bigger picture perspective – rather than just fighting fires.

You’re also a SMIF donor. What led you to take that level of investment in the Foundation?

SMIF has done wonders for the southern Minnesota community. It can be easy for long-standing organizations to keep doing the same things, but I don’t feel that way with SMIF; they are always pushing the envelope and expanding their programming. As a small business owner, I’m excited by SMIF’s entrepreneurial work, and I have firsthand knowledge of how valuable their programming is to supporting small businesses in our region. I really appreciate all they do.