What if I told you that you can put yourself in a better position to succeed by simply sharing your time, either once a week or once a month, with other like-minded and motivated individuals?
Successful individuals such as Benjamin Franklin, J.R.R. Tolkien, Henry Ford and Thomas Edison, all met with groups of like-minded people on a regular basis, to help one another achieve common goals and grow. Today, this is called a “mastermind”, first coined by Napoleon Hill in 1925. In this article, I'm going to go over what a mastermind group is, how it can benefit you and your business, and how to form one, step-by-step.
Thomas Edison (left) and Henry Ford (right)
What is a mastermind?
A mastermind is a peer-mentoring group of individuals who meet on a regular basis (in-person or virtually) to push each other to work to their highest potential and hold each other accountable. Many successful entrepreneurs today, from Bill Gates to Pat Flynn, use masterminds to help grow their business and work on their personal development.
Jim Rohn, author and motivational speaker, tells us that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. Are the people you spend the most time with helping you with your personal development and business’ growth? This is where participating in and being a part of a mastermind group can improve that.
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Why join a mastermind?
The first reason I recommend any entrepreneur join a mastermind group is because the people in that group will keep you accountable.
Every week, in my mastermind group, we ask each member how their business is progressing and if they followed through on what they planned to do last week.
I never want to let the individuals in my group down, so when I say to the members in my group that I am going to do something, you can bet I wind up doing it to tell them about it the next time we meet.
A mastermind group will give you feedback from people who are trying to build a business just like you. They have a special insight and mindset that is hard to find. Other like-minded entrepreneurs will tell you what’s wrong or right about your ideas with no bias. They are not your customers and they are not your competitors.
The people in your group can be your best source of advice at times when you’re unsure where to turn to. The members in my group have a very unique yet relevant perspective. This makes for some amazing feedback that has helped me tremendously when it comes to what direction to go in and what next steps to take for my business.
Not only does your mastermind group allow you collaborate on ideas but you can help people or get people in your group to help you with projects or tasks. While this isn’t the main function of a peer-mentoring group, as a result of meeting with other talented entrepreneurs on a regular basis, you might find opportunities to work with other members in your group.
There’s also an opportunity for you to cross-promote with other members in your group. Everyone in your group will likely be using social media and maybe even have a blog. In my mastermind, I’ve promoted their content on my Twitter account in exchange for being featured and interviewed on their blog.
This is also a great way to network. You might connect with people, who know other people, that might be able to help you out or that you might be able to help out. The more you expand your network, the more doors open up for you.
Having connections and knowing people who might know people in various industries can come in handy when you least expect it.
The members in your group will likely be very diversified with many different specialties and areas of knowledge. Maybe you’re someone with a lot of knowledge in marketing but you need help with design. If there’s another member in your group that has a design background, you can help them with marketing while they help you with design.
The blending of different backgrounds, skills and knowledge creates a fantastic environment for you to learn, play off of your strengths and correct your weaknesses. I’ve learned a lot from the members of my mastermind group about topics I previously had no knowledge about. There will always be something unique that you can bring to your mastermind group and that others will bring that will be of value to you and the rest of the group.
Besides being a support group to encourage you and keep you going when you encounter hard times in your business, your mastermind can be a place where members can get their questions answered and solutions to their problems.
Every week in my mastermind, someone is blown away by the quality of help and solutions they receive to their problems. It never ceases to amaze me how creative we can get, as a group, to tackle someone’s issues in that meeting.
What a typical mastermind might look like
To give you an idea of what a mastermind looks like, here’s what mine looks like:
Every Tuesday night, I meet with three other online entrepreneurs. We meet using Google Hangouts, which is a free video call/chat software that is easy to use.
Once we all get on, we begin with a round-table style discussion. Each person has the chance to give everyone else an update on their business, their challenges and wins since the last meeting.
After everyone gets the opportunity to update the group, we usually feature or “hot seat” someone every meeting. This person gets the opportunity to go deeper with their challenges, and they also get a chance to get feedback from the group. Every meeting, the featured person changes. Sometimes, someone is featured simply because they might need the most help at that time. Most of the time however, everyone has a shot to be in the hot seat.
Sometimes the mastermind meeting will be more informal than this, and we just discuss our businesses as a group. Some of my best takeaways came when our sessions were informal and didn’t follow a structure.
These sessions usually don’t go on for more than an hour and they are extremely beneficial and a great investment of my time, every meeting.
How to find or form a mastermind
The first thing you need to do is go where people like yourself congregate. If you’re an ecommerce entrepreneur, you don’t need to strictly look for other ecommerce entrepreneurs, instead look for other motivated entrepreneurs in any industry.
I recommend first starting with Meetup.com if you’re interested in meeting up with other entrepreneurs in person. Meetup.com has many groups of local entrepreneurs looking to connect that you can easily join for free. If you can’t find one, consider starting your own.
If you’re more interested in an online mastermind, I would recommend going to forums and Facebook groups for online entrepreneurs and ecommerce entrepreneurs.
You will probably have to take the initiative in these groups and ask if anyone else is interested in forming a mastermind with you. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.
As long as you don’t make it all about you and you are genuine in wanting to create a peer-mentoring group where entrepreneurs can help one another and grow together, people will be interested. Here’s a script similar to what I used when I was looking for other people to form a mastermind with me.
From here, you will want to contact the interested individuals you think you would get along with and make a good fit for your group. It’s a good idea to vet everyone that is interested to first, ensure that they’re serious about joining the group, and second, to see if their goals and values align with yours and the rest of the group’s.
Once you get everyone’s emails, send out a spreadsheet, using Google Docs, to quickly determine everyone’s availability. Use this spreadsheet template to help you see what everyone’s availability is. You ideally want to have a weekly or monthly meeting at the same time and day every week to make it easy for everyone.
Once you see an alignment and a date and time that works for everyone, it’s time to contact all your members and schedule the first mastermind session.
Running your first mastermind
You should let your new group know what the structure will be like for the very first meeting. You’re all strangers and there might be some members who are nervous, so let them know what to expect to ease their anxiety.
Make it clear that the first meeting will be very informal and casual. Everyone should get an opportunity to introduce themselves, talk about their business and what they hope to get out of this mastermind group.
In the beginning, at least for the first several meetings, follow a format or keep to a structure for the meetings until there’s a lot of chemistry in the group.
Use software like Google Hangouts. Skype and Zoom are good alternatives as well. It’s best to ask your group, when you first send out the scheduling spreadsheet, what software they use or prefer.
It’s a good idea to try and find someone who is experienced and has run or participated in masterminds before (or even is already in one) to make your sessions run smoother since they can take the lead for those first few (potentially awkward) meetings.
While there’s no ideal number of members for your group, try to keep it relatively small. In my experience, a group size of 4-6 people works best. With too many members, the meetings might be too long and there might not be enough time for people to get an equal opportunity to share and get value.
Go out and find a mastermind
Now it’s your turn. You will need to take the initiative. You will need to put yourself out there and find the right people.
If you don’t know where to start looking, leave a comment below and let everyone else know you’re looking to join a mastermind! Who knows, you might find the group of people who will help your business grow as well as help theirs. If you have any questions and feedback about masterminds, be sure to let me know in the comments below as well.