Why run a Mastermind Group?
If you work on your own, then decision-making can be a real challenge. Do you find you suffer from analysis paralysis or procrastination? Maybe you drift off track and get seduced by the latest app or tool. When you’re alone sticking to a plan is hard. That’s why people turn to support groups. But when it comes to running our businesses, how many people seek support? Not many.
In this blog post, I share one solution to the problem of seeking support and that’s the mastermind.
The Origin of Mastermind Groups
The principle behind a mastermind was first described by Napoleon Hill in his 1925 book, ‘The Law of Success’ and discussed in more detail in his 1937 work: ‘Think and Grow Rich’. His definition of a mastermind is:
“The coordination of knowledge and effort of two or more people, who work toward a definite purpose, in the spirit of harmony.”
Two heads are better than one
The results of the Homepreneur Survey 2018 which polled 550 people, discovered that working at home alone means missing out on ready availability of the opinions of colleagues that the corporate world affords. There’s no-one to share that new idea for a product with and certainly no team brainstorming session for a novel marketing campaign. Going it alone provides freedom and control but with that brings the challenge of having to solve all your problems yourself. Unless you have a breadth of experience, a mentor or coach to help, there are times when this isolation can feel burdensome rather than liberating.
Isolation makes decision-making extremely difficult and whilst your friends and family may be extremely supportive, there comes a point when you’ve used up all the favours you can call upon. And anyway, your nearest and dearest might not be the best people to challenge you as they will usually say what they think you want to hear or alternatively undermining your ideas.
The alternative to going it alone
So what are the alternatives? There is the business coaching route where an expert draws out of you the solutions to your problems. An expert coach will be skilled in questioning and listening, interpreting your answers and helping you to move towards your goal. A mentor, on the other hand, is usually someone who is an expert in your field who has trodden a similar path. Their experience means they act more as an adviser who proposes specific courses of action, as opposed to a coach who will be less prescriptive in their approach. Every mentor and coach will have a slightly different take on their role as adviser. The key is that you respect and trust their expertise. It’s important that you get along!
A different approach
Another alternative is the mastermind group which meets either face-to-face or online via Skype or Zoom which consists of a small number of business people with similar values who share a similar vision for their businesses.
My curiosity about the benefits of masterminding was sparked by researching successful groups in the online business space. One of the most successful advocates of masterminding is internet marketer, Pat Flynn. Read his take on the topic in this blog post https://www.smartpassiveincome.com/mastermind-groups-and-mentors/
The key to running a successful mastermind is the united vision of the members. Whether you are a start up or CEO there’s a mastermind to suit. It’s important that members are at a similar stage in their business journey. It may be that they have similar roles, (finance directors, sales managers, marketing consultants) or be focused on a particular sector (charities, property, investment, etc.)
Free Mastermind groups versus paid groups
In my opinion a mastermind should be a voluntary organisation unless the member consider they need a facilitator whom they are willing to pay. The value of membership should be equal for each members and therefore the need for a fee is redundant. If you are to meet physically there may be the cost of a meeting room to take into account. A small private dining room or separate space in hotel lobby or coffee shop might fit the bill. Privacy and confidentiality is a consideration if you are discussing sensitive information.
Mastermind group locations
Many masterminds are held online as the format is time efficient. However, online meetings are less personal and require a different style of communication. Even with screen sharing communicating online loses some impact. You have to work hard to be present when meetings are held online. But the time saving advantages outweigh the negatives and you get more proficient at concentrating with practice. It takes practice to lead an online mastermind effectively. If your members live and work in the same town then a face to face meeting may be preferable.
The format of the mastermind doesn’t really matter as long as it’s agreed in advance and is fair to every member. Traditionally, each member brings a specific problem to the group and each of the other members gives their considered opinion or asks further questions to help clarify the issue. This brainstorming style of problem-solving aims to provide a wide range of solutions which the questioner may not have even considered. Managing the responses may require significant skill in order that everyone doesn’t leap in at once!
So the agenda would go something like this:
1. The first member outlines their problem and describes the sort of help they are seeking. For example: “I have a new client who is asking me to do more work than originally agreed. How do approach them to ask for an increase in the fee to reflect the increase in the time required to carry out all the tasks.”
2. Each of the other members then has 5 minutes each to ask for clarification on any missing details, offer suggestions and respond to any point made by the first member.
3. The person in the hot seat then summarises how they are going to proceed.
4. Each person’s problem-solving session will take about 20 minutes.
5. The process is then repeated for each member.
Keeping the group to 5 or less means the session isn’t too long but gives enough variety of opinions for everyone to benefit from the power of multiple minds.
In some circumstances, it may be better to focus on one business for the whole hour rather than trying to cover each member’s issue for a few minutes. Tailor your mastermind to the members’ needs. There’s no right or wrong answer – it all depends on your objectives.
The Frequency of a Mastermind Group
Will you meet weekly, fortnightly, monthly, or quarterly? The frequency of the meetings may change over time. It may be preferable to meet more frequently in the early days and then lengthen the time between masterminds as the members gel. The meetings may last longer in the beginning as members get used to the format.
Hopefully as the weeks and months pass so the issues will become more focused. Being accountable to others means you are more likely to succeed and hit your targets. This is very motivating and hopefully after every mastermind you’ll be inspired to crack on.
Jo Bayne of Sweet Charity writes:
“Our mastermind group provides me with accountability to help keep me focussed on the big picture and work on my business as well as in it. It provides encouragement through the tough times and a critical eye to challenge my thinking and ensure I don’t go off-piste. We are all very creative ambitious people with big plans and together we can support our long-term business plans in a structured format of face to face meetups and ad-hoc phone-ins.
I am convinced that the fast evolving Sweet Charity Community wouldn’t have been nearly as successful without the strategic input from my mastermind group. The team's fresh perspective helps challenge my ideas and boost my confidence which is vital as a solopreneur.
My Mastermind Group
The Mastermind Group I’m a member of is aptly named ‘Women with a Mission’. It’s a group of five women who are all running their own businesses which are in one way or other are focused on building a personal brand. Some of the members, like myself, have been in business for a very long time, others are about to launch their first product or service. The key characteristic common to each member is that they are very much the dominant force behind their business – the true Homepreneur.
The second common factor is that we all largely work on our own with limited or no help.
And finally, we all come from a corporate background – investment manager, lawyer, advertising, digital marketing, film and television. We also have a wide cross-section of experience and skills. The fields we have entered are varied too and encompass emotional well-being recordings for children, yoga and wellness, social media consultancy, business consultancy and travel community management. Our businesses do not compete with one another so there is no conflict of interest. In fact, there are partnerships to be formed which benefit one another.
My group is in its infancy, so do check back and discover how we get on.
If you have any experience of a mastermind group, tell us about it in the comments.