Geoff Van Sonsbeek is CEO and Founder of House of Baukjen.
“I have been a member of Helm (formerly Supper Club) for 15 years. Helm for me is a network of like-minded entrepreneurs that act like your friendly board. They can act as a sounding board to keep you to the plot and help you navigate difficult situations, or choices. They are very free in sharing their experience and sometimes their advice, which are two different things.
I've always hugely benefited, whether times were good, or whether they were difficult, from being part of the Helm network. As an entrepreneur and CEO, life can be quite lonely. When you're running a business, you need to keep up a certain face to your team, to suppliers, you might have a board, which is neutral at best, but you need to assume it could be difficult, and your shareholders behind it.
A network like Helm gives you a friendly, trusted network and the ability to share journeys. Other members have done it before, and they can share their experiences, their failures and the opportunities they've seen.
For 15 years it has been my trusted circle, where I can go and ask for advice or ask for ideas and somewhere I can share my experience just as much, too. In a word, it has been invaluable.
I was asked about what you get back from being a member. It’s an interesting question. There are different programmes. You can join a forum, which is very intense, with the same group of people every month, or you can be active in attending dinners and discussions and so on. Or you go just for the social side. Whatever you do, you have access to the membership, and they will ask you questions.
I'm actively engaged now with the switch to better growth. And I'm trying to reach as many entrepreneurs as possible to inspire them to make the switch to purpose, but also to B Corp and to put purpose at the heart of the business. I've also been very active in Forum and that is a real commitment you need to make. It is every month and at least three hours of session with a bit of preparation. In our day-to-day lives, it can be hard to find that time. But it's the discipline to do it and the discipline during Forum that has been most invaluable to me.
There have been so many connections and introductions at key moments, both when the going got tough, but also when it got right. There have been introductions to better sales channels, or software or people. But when the going gets tough, because that happens, you know people who have been here before and experienced this.
My top tip is to be proactive in engaging with fellow entrepreneurs. Because whatever the sector, whatever their product, you can learn from their experience. We all have the same issues."