What is a mastermind group? How does it benefit your business? How do you go about setting one up. That’s the topic that guest writer Sinéad Noonan tackles in this post.
I consume a lot of of podcasts. Fifteen to twenty hours worth of content every week is about average for me. I primarily listen to business and marketing podcasts and am always trying to learn something that might help me build my small business. One thing that quickly became apparent to me was that most of the successful business men and women I admired were members of masterminds.
So about two years ago I decided to take the plunge and set up my own mastermind group. Within a year I had set up my own business and was attracting clients. Without the mastermind group, I would never have done this. Today, I am going to show you the benefits of being part of a mastermind and how to set one up.
What is a mastermind group?
In simple terms, a mastermind is a group of 3-8 people who come together on a regular basis, who have similar aims and want to reach certain goals. It’s important that the people involved in the mastermind group are committed and dependable. A mastermind will only be successful if everyone buys into the idea and will do the work. You need people that will commit to meeting regularly because attendance and accountability are what gives mastermind groups their power.
Benefits of a mastermind group?
So far you might be thinking that just going to a networking event will give you the same advantages as organising a mastermind. But masterminds have certain benefits:
Accountability – If you are a solopreneur, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. There is so much to do and keep on top of. You may have a ‘grand vision’ for your business, but you are stuck in the nitty-gritty of day-to-day tasks. By sharing your grand vision with your fellow mastermind peers, they can help you ensure that you are making progress towards this plan. Months and years can go by so quickly and you may not have made the progress you want towards your vision. A regular accountability check-in can make the difference and help you focus yourself on what it is exactly you need to be doing.
Education – It is likely that each member of the mastermind group has certain skills and strengths that other members lack. By teaming up, you enjoy the benefit of learning new skills that can help your business. For example, perhaps one member has a knack for copywriting and you have excellent photography skills. You could trade skills or even teach the group some of the fundamentals of your expertise.
Instant feedback – There can be nothing more disheartening than launching a product or service, only for no one to buy. The major advantage of mastermind meetings is that you can receive constant honest feedback from your peers. This can help avoid working on a project that you are super passionate about but has a limited future.
Brainstorm – Sometimes just the act of bouncing ideas off other people is all you need to spark a great idea. People with different backgrounds and interests can help you view your ideas in a new light and possibly provide you with the breakthrough you need for your business.
How to set up your own mastermind group?
Before approaching people to take part in your mastermind group, you should be very clear about the aims of the group. By knowing exactly what you want to get out of the mastermind, it will make it easier to communicate to others why taking part will benefit them. Having a vague notion of how the group will work can lead to people only half-committing.
Questions to ask yourself
- It can be useful to sit down and think through what exactly you are looking for in a mastermind. These questions can help:
- Why are you setting up a mastermind group? What do you hope to get out of it?
- What are your short-term goals for your business? Where do you want your business to be in a years time?
- What are your long-term goals for your business? Where will the business be in 5/10 years time?
- What are you struggling with in your business at the moment?
- Where are you spending most of your time? What aspects of your business are taking up most of your energy?
- What areas of your business are going well?
- What skills do you have that you are confident enough to share with others?
- How much time do you have to commit to the mastermind?
- Do you respond better to people face to face or over Skype?
- What type of people will make up the group?
- Will all members be from the same industry or would you rather a diverse group?
- Do you want to lead the mastermind, or let someone else take the reins after initial set up?
- How often will the group meet? Will it be a fixed date or worked around everyone’s schedule?
Where to find people for the mastermind group?
There are numerous ways to find people interested in joining your mastermind.
- Facebook Groups – This is where I found the members of my mastermind. Start by looking at groups that involve your local business networks. Try to identify members that seem to be engaged and willing to help others. You want to attract members that are willing to give back to the mastermind, not just take advice and give nothing in return. If you can’t find people locally, maybe start to look into groups that centre around your industry.
- LinkedIn – If you have built up a network of contacts here, this could be the perfect place to find mastermind members. Send messages to people you think would be a good fit for your mastermind, or ask contacts if they would know people that would be interested.
- Conferences – The best part of using conferences as a place to find perspective mastermind members is that you know you already have things in common. Concentrate on conferences that are closely aligned with the vision you have for your mastermind.
- Networking events – Local networking events can be an ideal way to strike up a conversation with people near you. Make note of any person you chat to that you think would be open to attending a mastermind. Ensure that you follow up with that person a few days later.
- Friends and Colleagues – Ask your own circle of friends if they would be interested or know people that would. Word of mouth is a strong thing, and people are more likely to try something if a friend suggests it.
What to look for in mastermind members
As well as looking for people with some common ground there are a few key characteristics that you should keep an eye out for:
- Positive attitude
- Attention to detail
Not every member will have all of these traits, but you should have a mix of people that cover them. It will help with the success of the mastermind.
Should you allow your competitors into the mastermind group?
This is really your call. To get the most out of a mastermind, you want to be able to speak freely about your business and know that nobody will use the information against you. However, before you write off a competitor from the mastermind, consider if they would actually be a benefit to you.
For example, say you are a hotelier. The manager of another hotel comes to you wanting to join the mastermind. Your initial reaction maybe to decline their interest. However, your hotel has a target market of retired individuals and your ‘competition’ is targeting stag/hen parties. Neither of you is marketing to the same demographic, but you would both benefit from industry knowledge. So it might be useful to have them in the group to share marketing strategies and other tips.
In the end, if it is your mastermind group, you can decide who fits best into the group.
Meeting with your mastermind group
First mastermind meeting
When you have assembled a suitable mastermind group, it’s time for the first meet-up. In the first meeting, you and the other members will be deciding on a few key issues.
- Who will lead the meetings? Will it be the same person all the time, or will it rotate?
- Will a record be kept of what is said at the meetings?
- Will the meetings always take place in person?
- Where will meetings be held? Will it always be the same location? Will it always be at the same time?
- Will the meetings be structured or free flow? (see below)
- How often will the meetings occur?
- What happens when people start missing meetings?
- Will new members be allowed to join?
Answering questions like these now avoids misunderstanding later.
Regular mastermind meetings
Finally after all that, it’s time to start regularly meeting with your mastermind. Mastermind meetings tend to be run in two different ways.
This is where one person chairs the meeting and makes sure that each member is given a chance to talk about their business. In a structured mastermind, a timer is generally set and everyone is given the same amount of time to talk. In a group, it can be easy for one person to dominate the conversation, but by having a timer in place it ensures everyone will have an opportunity to participate. Having a timer also allows for the discussion to dive into the topic at hand, rather than get sidetracked.
The chair in a structured mastermind needs to make sure that everyone is focusing on the topic of discussion and not letting the conversation be hijacked. Not everyone has to speak for their entire allotted time, but they always have the option to. After everyone has had a chance to speak, the chair can open up the discussion to other business or can focus on a topic that might not have been totally resolved in the previous discussions.
For a reasonable schedule aim for about 2 hours. For example – start at 7 pm and engage in relaxed chat until everyone arrives. Deal with any business from the last meeting. Start with the timer and allow everyone to have their allotted time. Close the timed discussions at 8:30 pm and allow for any follow-up discussions and goal setting. End the meeting at 9 pm.
If you have a tighter schedule to work with, you may want to consider leaving goal setting and other business discussion to follow up emails and just concentrate on the timed section.
To avoid people in the mastermind showing up to the meeting with nothing to say, you can suggest that members have answers to certain questions prepared before each meeting. For example, possible questions could be:
- What’s going really well for your business at the moment?
- What is your business struggling with?
- What tool/resource are you finding particularly useful?
- What book/article did you find insightful recently?
- Names of people you recently interacted with that might be of benefit to others in the group.
A structured mastermind works well for larger groups (5+) as the meeting can easily go off-topic or break off conversations can occur. Keeping the focus on the topic being discussed is vital.
This is a more relaxed meeting where the members get together and just discuss their businesses. There is no chair and no timer. It is up to each member to make their voice and opinion heard.
This might be a better option for smaller groups. It allows the conversation to develop and is excellent for brainstorming and creativity. It also does not feel as constrained as a structured meeting.
The most important aspect of a mastermind group
Accountability is the key to a successful mastermind group. If everyone feels invested in the group, it is far more likely to succeed. I would suggest that at the end of each meeting, everyone sets a goal that they will have achieved by the next meet up. Whatever the goal is, have someone make a note of them and have regular check-ins before the next Mastermind so that everyone is held accountable. This accountability can be invaluable when the temptation to procrastinate or give up hits. Do you really want to be the only one in your mastermind group not to reach their goal this month? This accountability can really spur you on. I would suggest having a private Facebook group or WhatsApp group so that members of the mastermind can check-in. This gives the group a constant support system between the meetings.
So, do you think that a mastermind is right for you? Are you inspired to set one up? If you do take the plunge, let me know how you get on! If you have any questions, feel free to ask me in the comments below.
Sinead Noonan runs a Dublin-based Mastermind group aimed at bloggers. Her website sineadsocial.com helps part-time bloggers to turn into full-time brands. She loves to teach productivity systems and branding as well as content creation methods that will make you stand-out and build a blog you love!