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The Benefits of Building, Joining or Growing a Mastermind Group

Marketing Podcast with Bill Hibbler

Mastermind Groups

photo credit: learningexecutive via photopin cc

Anyone who has read Napoleon Hill’s often cited business classic, Think and Grow Rich will be familiar with the business use of something called a Mastermind Group. Hill’s book recounts how many successful business people rely on a small, tight-knit group of advisors to help them build their businesses.

I’ve long been an advocate of assembling some form of a group of peer advisors, board members or customer collaborators to help you grow your business. As an entrepreneur or CEO you often lack both the filter and the sounding board you need to see things bigger ways.

The right mastermind group can provide these benefits:

Accountability – Simply stating your goals and objectives to a group that intends to hold you accountable for your stated result can have the kind of pull that keeps you focused on meeting your goals

Growth – Many mastermind group members form strategic business relationships that bring additional revenue streams and growth opportunities

Specific knowledge – A group comprised of people from different backgrounds and industries can help you fill gaps in your own knowledge and provide very specific help

Resources – Your group members may very well end up loaning and providing the kinds of resources and introductions that can help you get to the next level in your business

New perspectives – Sometimes having someone from outside your industry question your long held beliefs or suggest innovations from a new point of view can prove very helpful

Support – As a group forms a very close common bond this can be a great place to go for support when you have a troubling business issue

Energy – Simply having a team that understands your objectives and helps you celebrate your wins can be very energizing

There are any number of organizations formed specifically for the purpose of helping people join mastermind groups such as Convene, Vistage, The Alternative Board and EO to name a few. But, you may also find that assembling your own team based on common interests, beliefs, goals, expertise and chemistry is a great way to go as well.

Most industry associations have some form of group opportunity for their members.

Technology and global reach make this an even more desirable option today.

There are many ways to form Mastermind Groups. You can stick the classic style of frequent meetings focused only on goal support or you can create looser, less formal groups that come together to offer routine advice or even collaboration on a common project.

My guest for this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is Bill Hibbler, co-author of Meet and Grow Rich: How to Easily Create and Operate Your Own “Mastermind” Group for Health, Wealth, and More

On the show and in his book Hibbler shares his experiences as a participant in a number of Mastermind Groups over the years.

Probably the best nugget I took from this interview was that if you are forming your own group you want to move slowly in the act of recruiting members because chemistry and long-term commitments are crucial for a tight group to form if that’s is your goal.

I believe that every small business owner should find or form their group or network and commit to using this resource as the significant growth tool it can be.

Who Feeds You

Many small businesses owners feel somewhat isolated when it comes to getting feedback on their ideas.

It may seem as though it’s hard to share your thoughts, goals and feelings of downright incompetence with a staff that you believe looks to you for all the answers. (You may be selling yourself short with this view, but that’s another post.)

Sometimes it can feel like you feed the beast, you feed the customers, you feed the staff, but who feeds you? Without a constant diet of healthy ideas and peer interaction it’s very easy to find your focus on innovation and expanded opportunities can diminish.

Some people find that they can meet this need on a steady diet of seminars and conferences, and while I think those are a great way to supplement your knowledge, nothing is a powerful as a planned, facilitated and formally structured mastermind kind of group. (And if you can stand one last food metaphor – It’s akin to pigging out at the Whole Foods buffet.)

The idea behind a mastermind group is a set of individuals, typically peers by some measure, come together at regular intervals to get away from the day to day and share big audacious ideas, develop goals and pledge accountability.

The concept is not new and while it is a very powerful one, it’s been a bit tainted by the Internet marketers and coaches that have jumped into the business of putting these together for profit. I’m not suggesting this isn’t something you would pay to be a part of. I belong to a group that I’m honored to get to hang out with and I pay for the privilege, but you must think strategically about how you might employ this concept to make sure you get the most out of it.

Choose wisely

Groups like Vistage and Strategic Coach have proven models for putting together and running mastermind groups and might be a great place for you to start your search. I know a lot of people that have gone through Strategic Coach and they all rave about it.

You might also find that you can put your own peer group together, but understand that this can be a lot of work so joining a group with a track record of value might make more sense initially.

Beginner’s Mind

I think this can apply to many things, but the group I belong to shares ideas sometimes that are so far beyond my current view that sometimes I have to just let them soak in without judgement before I can figure out how the idea might apply to my world.

There is something really beautiful about a group that has shared motivations and beliefs, but very diverse businesses and business models.

Clarity and focus

I get a lot of really great new ideas from participating in this kind of process, but the biggest gift is much greater clarity and focus on the things I’m already doing.

It’s just tough to stop and take the lid off things when you’re at full speed and in it. Stepping out of it and into a bit of laboratory type setting allows me to see some pretty obvious flaws and innovations.

Accountability

As business owners we often hold our vendors, staff and even customers accountable for the work and deliverables they commit to, but who holds us accountable?

Sure, we’re really good at coming up with ideas, creating action plans and knocking down to do lists, but who is asking us really tough questions like – where are you now, where do you want to be, what’s in the way, what are you going to have to change in order to get where you need to go.

Short answer no one – or worse, a spouse that equally frustrated with your lack of vision beyond the next day’s horizon.

Sometimes the greatest motivating factor in the achievement of any goal is knowing that there’s someone else out there that knows you committed to achieving it.

Offer your own

As a bit of a bonus idea for today’s post I think one of the greatest ways you could add value to your existing client relationships would be to start this kind of a group for your clients.

If you have a great experience as a member of a mastermind group and can pattern your own group after this experience think of how deep your relationships with you clients could become if you brought this tool to them.

In the race to grow our own businesses we must come to understand that while there may be a finish line it will keep moving out of sight just as we glimpse it. Our job is to increase our capabilities in order to push that finish line further out with greater opportunity.

Who Holds You Accountable?

As the owner of a business you may have one pretty big blindside and that’s accountability.

Look I know you get up every morning, start the coffee pot, and fire up the big to-do list every single work day, and often on Saturday and Sunday, without anyone making you, but who holds you accountable for success, for achieving your stated goals?

That’s a tough one because the natural structure of business suggests that you’re the boss and nobody’s the boss of you. In my opinion, this is something you have to create and invest in making happen – you need to get a boss to hold you accountable.

    Here are a couple suggestions:

  • Start a mastermind group – Choose a select group of business owners from your local network of strategic partners or even industry peers and set-up a structure to share objectives and goals, critique marketing plans and materials and suggest ways to get better. Hold quarterly sessions as a group. You can join one too with groups like Vistage
  • Track your time – Create time sheets and note how you spend your time each day. Assign a category of work, such as marketing, administrative, or sales. Then spend a minute or two at the end of the day and assign a value to that work – in other words what you would pay someone else to do it. You may be shocked at how unaccountable you are for the way you spend your day.
  • Create an internal board - Use your professional network, such as accountant, lawyer, insurance or financial professional to hold you accountable. After all, they may have a vested interest in your success. Share numbers and goals and give them permission to prod you each month for results.
  • Hire a coach – All the best athletes do it! A coach can be a great addition to your team and act as someone for you to bounce you ideas off. It can be lonely at the top and getting feedback from an experienced coach is a great way to get around your blind spots and gain the confidence to move boldy in the direction of your goals.

If any of this is resonating with you, I’ve actually created a coaching program that has several of these elements baked right in – have a look – Duct Tape Marketing EXCELerator