Have you ever wondered how to start a mastermind group (and maybe why you should – or what it even is?) Not that long ago, I was in the place of having heard of the power of mastermind groups, wanting one, but not knowing where to start. Starting a mastermind group has so significantly benefited my business (and me, personally) that I wanted to share everything you need to know to reap the same benefit in your own life!
What is a mastermind group?
For years, I had heard about mastermind groups from other entrepreneurs.Initially, I thought it was a reprisal of Pinky and the Brain, just coming to life in the world of business. Mastermind was not a word I was familiar with when it came to running a business, and honestly… I just wasn’t very curious about it.
Within a few years, I’d started to see and hear the term in enough context that I had a rough idea of what a mastermind group was: a group of like-minded people working together to achieve their goals – my then-definition—and though I still had lots of other questions about this concept, I didn’t pursue it.
Around 2015, a friend of mine shared a newsletter resource with me called The Useletter. Put out every Saturday by Amy Andrews, the Useletter contained 5 tips for entrepreneurs every week, and I was instantly hooked. And somewhere along the line, Amy mentioned that she had a mastermind group, which was the first time I remember thinking, “I should really look into that.”
Probably within a few months, Steve Scott, a writer I follow both for his insanely simple habit and productivity hacks and for his self-publishing genius, also mentioned masterminding. With two entrepreneurs I greatly admired onboard the mastermind train, I knew this was something I wanted to explore.
Why start a mastermind group?
I could list many more brilliant entrepreneurs who’ve used mastermind groups to build their businesses, but that’s sort of beside the point. Take my word for it when I say that, if you give it two months and do it right, a mastermind group will change your business.
For my group, it’s safe to say that we all started seeing the gold mine of value this offered within the first half hour of our first meeting. Yes, it was legitimately that powerful. I’ll write more below on how to actually run a mastermind group, but here are some reasons why starting a mastermind group is the best thing you can do for your business in 2018:
- It’s a great way to grow your business network. Whether you’re masterminding with people in the same business as you, meeting with people in complementing businesses, or pulling together entrepreneurs with no crossover, you will extend your reach in a truly powerful way.
- It’s a great way to learn new things. What are the odds that, even if you’re all in the same business, you’ve all learnt exactly the same lessons in exactly the same way? Not a chance. You have valuable insight to give to your fellow group members, and they have valuable insight to share with you. You may also be surprised by people who aren’t in the same business, or even share a similar business model, and how applicable their experience and knowledge is.
- It’s a great way to reinforce what you already know. Studies have proven that teaching what you know is a great way to retain the information. Have you ever wondered why you had to do presentations to your class in high school and college? Now you know! I know that, for me, it’s been instrumental, not just because I repeat the things I’ve learnt, but also because sharing has forced me to think through some of the things I do by habit or instinctually and reevaluate them.
- It’s a great way to form community. We all know that entrepreneurs often struggle with loneliness. Whether you’re an introvert or extravert, social or shy, community is in irreplaceable part of humanity, and as solopreneurs and business owners, we tend to be more isolated than the rest of society. A mastermind group quickly becomes a group of friends who not only care about you as a person, but who also understand what it’s like to be in your shoes. That kind of understanding is invaluable as an entrepreneur.
How to start a mastermind group
The biggest obstacle I faced when thinking about how to start a mastermind group was actually my own ego. I was worried that starting or joining a group would leave me vulnerable and exposed when it came to my weaknesses, and that the people I respected who were in the group with me would ridicule me for not having my act together as a businessperson.
I guess the truth is that my mastermind group did make me vulnerable and exposed… but rather than laughing at me for my weaknesses, the members of my group leaned in. They opened up about their own weaknesses, lent me strength from their many stores of expertise, knowledge, and talent, and relied on me for what I could offer from my own valuable background. Instead of leaving me feeling weakened by sharing, I began to feel reinforced.
When you’re ready to start your own mastermind group, here are the steps:
- Talk to every entrepreneur you respect about the group. You should know what the goal is for you just as much as you should know what it is you’ll be doing.
- When you’ve gathered enough interest, set a time for a first meeting. Brady of Blacksmith Albums, who started our group, had talked to many people about the group over the course of almost a year. It was still in the theoretical stage, until he had two other people who were ready to commit, and as soon as we’d made that commitment, he announced a time, date, and place for the first meeting and simply expected us to be there. And you know what? We were.
How to run a mastermind group
Because Brady was the driving force behind starting our mastermind group, he took the initiative in researching structure. I’ll spare you the details, but ultimately, he landed on Pat Flynn’s, and since it works well for us, it’s what I’m going to recommend:
- The hour-long meeting is broken into three sections: wins from the last week, hot seat, and goals for the next week.
- Wins: This portion of the mastermind takes up 10 minutes, and during it, each member shares his or her wins since our last meeting. For our group, these consist of both business and personal wins. Most of the time, we review the last week’s goals as we’re discussing our wins.
- Hot seat: Every week, one member is in the hot seat and discusses the challenges he or she is facing currently. Other masterminders can chime in to help troubleshoot these problems, based on their experience. For example, because I’m an expert on the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), sometimes I’ll weigh in on personnel issues like hiring or assigning responsibilities. Two of our members run brick-and-mortar retail operations, so they’re often able to give each other pieces of expertise. This portion of the meeting lasts 40 minutes, and in the last 5-10 of that time, we try to discuss action items (not necessarily the goals for the week, as they may push out past that timeframe). The hot seat rotates on a regular schedule, so since there are four members, each of us gets a turn every four weeks. The hot seat of the week doesn’t change just because one member has something urgent, or another member is out of town.
- Goals: With the last 10 minutes of our formal meeting, we focus on goals for the coming week. Again, we’ll often reflect back on the last week’s goals to see what we did and did not do, and it’s pretty common for us to challenge each other on what’s realistic to accomplish in a week (since we’re all crazy ambitious and believe ourselves to be superhuman, apparently).
- The person who was in the hot seat last week will run the meeting (ensuring we stay on time) this week; that way, no one ever is stuck being the police (my natural tendency).
Tons of great things have come from this structure. Some of us are more chatty than others, and the time constraint means we won’t be formally meeting until all hours of the night (though we tend to hang out for an hour or so afterward anyway). Some of us come prepared and others don’t, but the allotted time has always been plenty for even an underprepared member to talk through their challenges.
One of the greatest – and most surprising – things about our mastermind group was how much I benefited from hearing other people’s solutions that weren’t even intended for me. For instance, Pro of IE Photo Rentals has made some great recommendations to Brady that I’ve been able to implement for myself.
Start a Mastermind Group!
Hopefully, by now, you’re convinced that a mastermind group is the way to go if you’re looking to level up your business. If you do start a mastermind group, I’d love to hear from you on how it goes for you… and if you don’t, what’s holding you back? Let me know in the comments. (And feel free to ask any mastermind-related questions, too!)