“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” If entrepreneur and motivational speaker Jim Rohn is correct in that assertion, then mastermind groups (also known as peer-to-peer mentoring) can help business owners dramatically increase their personal averages.
Business owners face an ever-changing business landscape, where competition is stiff, budgets are tight, and the labor market is challenging. Everyone is looking for any advantage.
Mastermind groups can help proactive entrepreneurs accelerate their personal and professional growth. Bringing together a group of peers is effective because it allows each member to experience new perspectives and deep support.
“Mastermind group” has become a trendy business buzzword in recent years. While most people have heard the term, many aren’t entirely sure what it actually means.
Simply put, a mastermind group is when multiple business owners regularly meet with the single purpose of helping each other succeed.
It’s an idea as old as tribal history itself, but the modern concept was outlined by Napoleon Hill, one of the all-time bestselling self-help author. He interviewed America’s most innovative leaders, including Henry Ford and J. P. Morgan, to discover their secrets for success. One thing they had in common, Hill discovered, was participation in a peer group.
“No two minds ever come together without thereby creating a third, invisible intangible force, which may be likened to a third mind [the mastermind]," Hill explains. Participating in this type of “think tank” increases the effectiveness of each of the members.
Mastermind groups are also sometimes called peer advisory groups or advisory boards. They’re made up of a small group of business owners, usually no more than a dozen, sometimes in the same field but oftentimes in non-competing industries.
Although every group is unique, they generally involve monthly meetings either in-person or online where members take turns discussing their challenges and receiving advice and accountability. Group members encourage each other to set bold goals, and support them in accomplishing them.
While CEOs of large corporations have boards of directors, small business owners are often on their own. They may have employees, but it’s inappropriate to lean on them for advice and support about major decisions.
A mastermind or peer advisory board can serve as a trusted space to receive unbiased feedback on topics like finances, marketing, sales, personnel, or products/service launches.
Nearly one-quarter of small business owners don’t look to anyone for advice when facing a business challenge or decision. That could be part of the reason 80% of businesses “crash and burn” within the first 18 months.
Finding creative solutions to business problems is key to longevity, and a mastermind or advisory board can provide trusted advice. Your fellow members have no agenda other than helping you. On the other hand, the feedback you receive from employees, family, or even hired consultants could be colored by their relationship to you.
Surrounding yourself with successful business owners doing amazing things will make you think bigger and stretch beyond your comfort zone. And the diversity of your fellow members’ backgrounds and experiences is certain to result in a creative solution or helpful perspective to almost any problem you face.
Private business managers place a very high level of importance on their ability to accomplish goals. In fact, a recent survey of business owners conducted by The Alternative Board (TAB) found that accomplishing goals was the number one task a leader should focus on.
In a mastermind or advisory board, members hold their peers’ feet to the fire. Meeting regularly means members must be ready to follow up on the goals they set and promises they make.
Some business owners find that after they become the boss, there are few within their organization who will challenge them. This can lead to complacency. An organized peer advisory board, however, will push each other to live up to a high level of excellence.
A savvy group will also jettison a habitually underachieving member. This small bit of peer pressure is part of what leads to such remarkable improvement in the performance of most members
It may sound strange that a business owner’s leadership skills are so closely tied to how well they perform as part of a mastermind group. But the lessons a business leader learns in these valuable, regularly scheduled meetings are, in essence, a form of leadership training.
Each member is expected to help their fellow group members solve problems. Taking on the role of a trusted peer advisor strengthens the leadership and coaching skills of every board member, which they can bring back to their own respective companies.
No one should join a mastermind or advisory group with the sole goal of landing new business. However, networking naturally happens and members often benefit by finding partners for new ventures, exchanging leads, and sending business to one another.
It can be lonely at the top, and business owner advisory boards offer that additional perk of being a support group for business leaders. They also deliver a fun social element, which appeals to business owners who may otherwise be too busy to have much of a social life outside of their work and family.
For all of the reasons above, members of masterminds often develop greater confidence. There is so much opportunity for growth that members typically begin to feel stronger as leaders and more assured in their decision making. Better yet, that confidence can spread through their companies and inspire their teams to perform better.
A mastermind group pushes you to set goals and pushes you to achieve them. It helps you tackle challenges by offering new perspectives and helpful advice. It sharpens your leadership skills, grows your network, and boosts your confidence. All of that greatly increases your chances of making more money.
Unfortunately, not all mastermind groups are created equal. To choose the right group for you, here are a few considerations to keep in mind.
Attending a mastermind or peer advisory group meeting isn’t a passive experience. You can’t sit back and just wait for members to solve all of your problems. It’s intended to be truly collaborative, where you get as much as you give.
Your work starts even before you attend a meeting. Spend time considering the goals and challenges of your business. Understanding these things will give you and your fellow mastermind members a place to start.
When it’s your turn in the hot seat at a mastermind meeting, be clear about what you need. Are you wanting them to brainstorm 10 new marketing ideas with you? Do you just need a safe space to process your thoughts about a problem? Would you like scaling advice based on their experience? Prepare in advance and provide specific direction.
Also, don’t steal the spotlight. Even if the focus is on your business, a mastermind is a democracy where everyone gets a chance to share. When receiving feedback, don’t interrupt or get defensive.
When your peers are talking, take notes so you can remember your point without having to interject while someone else is talking. Stick to non-judgmental and solution-focused feedback, and get to the point quickly so others have a turn to add to the conversation.
Finally, while referrals are a requirement of such a group, helping your members land more business is a great way to show your appreciation for their support. Serve as a connector by making introductions between members and others in your network. This act of generosity may also result in more referrals coming your way.
Business owner mastermind groups can help you gain a competitive advantage in your industry. The only way to get the most from the experience, however, is by sharing sensitive, personal information vital to the future of your company. That’s why whatever organization you join must be reliable and have a solid reputation.
There are endless numbers of masterminds available in local communities and online, but beware. Many fly-by-night groups are now trying to capitalize on the recent popularity of peer-to-peer network groups.
TAB was formed in 1990 by best-selling business author Allen Fishman who was the president and co-owner of a consumer electronics chain, which after attaining great success became a NASDAQ-traded public entity.
TAB not only pioneered many of the techniques other business owner advisory boards use today, but has perfected a system of unique proprietary business tools that have helped over 15,000 business owners around the world achieve greater success.
The certified executive business coaches who facilitate TAB board meetings are among the most successful business advisors in the world. What makes TAB’s system unique is a combination of facilitated peer advice sessions as well as private one-on-one or virtual consultations between each business owner and their TAB advisor. This additional coaching strengthens the individual plans outlined in the mastermind group setting.
Joining a mastermind group is an important decision and a sound business investment, especially when you join one with a track record for success. Choose wisely and, within no time, you’ll find the investment in a peer advisory board will more than pay for itself.