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Bringing business owners together to solve problems


Barry Walsh

Barry Walsh

Barry Walsh

Barry Walsh (46) is the founder of Group of Seven, which teams up business leaders with their peers to help one another solve business challenges.

"i came up with the idea by chance. In my work as a leadership consultant and business coach I found I was having the same conversations with people all the time, so it occurred to me that it might be worthwhile to bring these people together.

So nine years ago I arranged a dinner for seven of my clients. At the end of the meal they had already started asking when the next meeting was. That same group still meets today, every second month.

Last year I decided to invest seriously in the business, and ended my consultancy work to focus on it full time. I now have six groups in place with another two on the way. That should double in size by the end of next year.

They are grouped by business size rather than sector and I facilitate each meeting. I am based in Kinvara, a small town in Galway, but work all over the country.

My revenue comes from a membership fee. Business leaders get huge value from it and that is evidenced by our figures. The meetings have a 98.5pc attendance rate and people stay with their groups for an average of four years.

Members come from companies such as Windmill Lane, telecoms company KTL and Home Instead Senior Care nursing home chain.

New clients are mainly sourced through referrals from existing members. But I recently changed my strategy and am now starting to target existing networks.

I have started working with Ernst and Young's Entrepreneur of the Year programme; it has 350 alumni. We have set up a year-long pilot with a group of them and will do more if the feedback is good.

Another of our group specialises in lean leadership, the business philosophy founded by Toyota.

Business owners are often quite isolated in their organisation, so this gives them an outlet to communicate with people facing similar challenges.

I am also starting groups for small business owners in Dublin, Galway and Limerick. It is a very satisfying line of work. Clients get more from this than any other consulting method I've come across."


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