A Global Network for Idaho Entrepreneurs

By Kathleen Williams

Photography by Emma Thompson

According to Liza Roeser Atwood, entrepreneurship comes with many challenges. “You’re in your own little bubble trying to solve a million little problems,” she said. When you start your own business, you don’t arrive to your new job with a desk and employee email set up for you. There’s no department within the company to turn to with questions. Faced with doing everything independently, an entrepreneur’s devotion to their business can overshadow other aspects of their lives.

That’s where the Entrepreneur’s Organization comes in. Globally, it is a network that spans 188 chapters in 58 countries. Founding member, Stephen Cilley, launched the Idaho chapter in 2005, with the goal of helping Idaho entrepreneurs grow their businesses while maintaining a balance in three facets of entrepreneurial life: professional, personal, and family life. Cilley said that joining EO has been the most impactful thing he’s done for both his business and himself.

On the professional growth and education side, local and global experts give talks to the Idaho chapter once or twice a month. EO also organizes countless regional, national, and international events available to all members year round as well. At these meetings and events, seasoned business owners share the most important 5 percent of their business and life experiences during their seminars. According to Atwood, the lessons from these meetings and events are invaluable – “it’s a PhD in Cliffnotes,” she said.

The Entrepreneur’s Organization also creates a structured support group within its chapters through their forum program. Members meet monthly in small groups and become each other’s confidantes, discussing the success and struggles that come with managing their professional, personal, and family lives. They practice using Gestalt Feedback in their meetings, in which they don’t solicit or give advice, but speak from experience. Some members have been in the same tight-knit forum group for over a decade, problem-solving on a personal level, and forming close companionships.

Currently, the Idaho chapter has forty-three members. To apply for membership, your business must have earned at least one million dollars in the latest fiscal year. For business owners who don’t yet meet those requirements, EO offers the Accelerator Program, which provides a professional education curriculum and mentorship opportunities to help entrepreneurs reach that goal.

The best part of EO, in Cilley’s opinion, is being connected to like-minded people in her community. “No other organization could have connected me with other like-minded individuals in the same situations, from all over the world,” he said.

According to Atwood, “The support I find in EO extends throughout the 58-country network.” Recently on a trip to Ecuador, she connected with the EO Ecuador chapter and played golf with some of their members and immediately felt companionship. “We’re all entrepreneurs,” she said. “We’re all chasing that shooting star.”