Running an online business is tough.
You are the master of your own destiny, which is both a blessing and a curse. As much as it is wonderful to be your own boss, you also have the burden of providing all of the necessary motivation, drive and innovation to create something of tangible worth.
With the above in mind, I will explore any opportunity that can help to motivate me and point me in the right direction in terms of making better business decisions. That brings me directly to mastermind groups, which can deliver on both fronts.
In this post I am going to introduce you to the concept of a mastermind group and also explain my own unique perspective on how one should be run so that the participants get the most out of it. Whether you’ve never heard of a mastermind group before or are already in one (or more), please read on.
What is a Master Mind?
The term “master mind” was coined by Napoleon Hill in his infamous book, Think and Grow Rich. If you have ten minutes to spare then you can hear all about it from the man himself:
Hill defines a master mind as follows:
…two or more people who work in perfect harmony for the attainment of a definite purpose.
In the context of online business owners, mastermind groups are meetings of groups of two or more people who help each other to succeed through their advice and assistance. These meetings can be in person, by telephone, on Skype or any other medium of instant communication. While Hill had his own opinions as to how how mastermind groups should be administered, there are no set-in-stone rules.
What Are the Benefits of a Master Mind?
In my opinion there are four key benefits that anyone can experience as a result of joining a mastermind group:
- You can seek opinions on potential courses of action relating to your business
- Your master mind partner(s) can suggest courses of action that you might not otherwise think of
- You can use the master mind as a recurring milestone for the progress of your business
- You can use the master mind as a strong enforcer of accountability
Not only do you get the benefit of tapping into other minds, you can also essentially run your business around your mastermind. The meetings can be used to plan the tasks that you will complete in time for the next meeting and you can be held accountable by your mastermind partners to complete those tasks. There’s nothing quite like making a promise to someone that you will do something to galvanize you into actually doing it.
I’ve lost count of the amount of times that I’ve completely changed my approach to something based upon the advice I have received during a mastermind meeting. One can pretend to be a know-it-all and have the shortsightedness to never seek advice but it is almost always beneficial to seek the opinion of others.
To be honest, I cannot sufficiently describe the benefits of joining a mastermind group. The true reward of operating within a well-run group is impossible to fully convey and only truly appreciated when you experience it.
My Mastermind Model
There are plenty of posts out there that talk about masterminds and they all have a similar approach. However, I want to offer something a little different by talking about the mastermind group I am in and how it is run. Let’s run through the key features.
Once Per Week
Personally I like to hold a meeting once per week. This might be too much for some, but I would be alarmed if I had nothing to talk about after a week of working on my business.
Each week should represent a step forward in developing my business — if I have nothing to talk about then I need to take a closer look at what I am actually achieving.
A Two Person Team
My mastermind group is made up of just two people: myself and Steve Scott. I suppose you could call it more of a mastermind “partnership” but I’m not going to get hung up on semantics. We’ve known each other for well over a year and were actually previously in a failed mastermind group of five people (which taught me a great about how not to run a mastermind group).
I advocate mastermind groups of just two people because it allows each weekly meeting to focus entirely on those two people. Mastermind groups of three or more generally require some kind of “rotation” policy in which just one or two people have the opportunity to discuss their business per meeting. Either that or each person only gets a limited amount of time to discuss their business. This makes sense in terms of making the best of the available time, but in terms of consistency and usefulness I want to be able to discuss and review my progress week by week.
The downside to having a two-man mastermind is you only have two minds to discuss matters. The upside is that you have far more time to dedicate to each other’s businesses and you don’t have the potential hassle of multiple people trying to get their point across at the same time. You also avoid the potential issues of leadership — i.e. who should be in charge and how they should govern the meetings.
It is of vital importance that your mastermind partner is on a similar track to you. They don’t have to be doing exactly the same thing (it’s probably ideal that they’re not) but you should be on a similar wave length.
My first mastermind group was doomed from the start as it featured a bunch of people who were doing different things and had different motivations. Not only do you need someone who is operating on a similar wavelength, you need to ensure that they are as motivated and driven as you to succeed. You do not want to be in a mastermind group where the other person isn’t really committed.
In my opinion you should spend nearly as much time preparing for a mastermind meeting as you should on the meeting itself. As with most things in life, it is the preparation that determines the effectiveness of whatever you had planned.
I prepare for my mastermind meetings in three parts:
- Review my accountability items from last week. (How did I get on? Did I get everything done?)
- Make a list of the items I want to talk about in the meeting.
- Create a provisional list of tasks to complete in the coming week for accountability.
When you have planned appropriately you will find that you get a great deal more out of the meeting. While it is possible to fly by the seat of your pants, you’ll probably forget to ask key questions and keep your partner updated about important goings-on and you’re far more likely to create arbitrary and contrived accountability tasks.
The Meeting Itself
Mine and Scott’s meetings tend to last from 30 to 60 minutes. The format goes something like this:
- Hellos and chit chat
- General discussion about any important events in the previous week
- One of us will discuss how we got on with our accountability tasks and follow up with accountability tasks for the following week
- The other will follow suit
- We’ll conclude by discussing any final items that spring to mind
When the meeting is over I will know exactly what I plan to do in the coming week and why. I won’t be working for the sake of working — I will be doing work that is designed to take my business further. Better yet, I have had the concurrence of my mastermind partner in terms of the viability of my plans.
How to Find a Mastermind Partner
Finding a good mastermind partner can be pretty tough. As I said previously, you need someone who is on a similar wavelength to you and also as motivated for the group to succeed. I would not recommend that you reach out to a stranger to form a mastermind group — far better to suggest it to someone that you already know. If you’re brand new to blogging then this will be a great excuse for you start talking to other bloggers in your niche.
I’d also recommend forums as a great place to find potential mastermind partners. Establish yourself in a forum in your niche and get to know the regular posters. After a while it will become obvious which person or people might be right to form a mastermind group with.
Finally, offline seminars and conferences are a great way to meet new people and also discover if you are on the same kind of wavelength. There’s nothing quite like a face-to-face chat to get an idea of how well you might get on with someone.
I believe that you should adopt a “softly softly” approach to starting a mastermind group.
Begin with a couple of no pressure sessions in which you simply get an idea as to whether the dynamic between you works then begin to introduce a bit of structure when it seems appropriate to do so. Far better to build something that works organically for the two of you then try to force a structure from the get-go.
You’re likely to find that the shape of your mastermind group will change over time — adapting to suit what the participants aim to get out of it. As I said earlier, there are no set-in-stone rules as to how a mastermind group should be run, so do as you see fit.
What Are Your Thoughts on Mastermind Groups?
Are you currently in a mastermind group or not? I’d love to hear from you — especially if you have a strong opinion on the topic or feel that you have something to add to my post. Fire away in the comments section!
Photo Credit: “Caveman Chuck” Coker