We know you’ve heard it before (um, even from us) — you should join a mastermind group, also known as a group of 4-6 people who meet about every two weeks to give each other advice and hold one another accountable to big goals.
It’s kind of a no brainer, isn’t it? We all know that trying to do it all alone as an entrepreneur is a recipe for eventually giving up when the going gets tough. So to join forces with people who get what you’re doing, who you can bounce ideas off of — it’s basically a way to build an informal board of advisors into your business.
We’ve already written all about masterminds, what they are and how to find them. So for today’s conversation, we’re approaching this from a new angle.
We’re focusing on the pitfalls: why groups fizzle out before they really get off the wrong, how even groups with the best of intentions might set themselves up to fail, and how to build yours strong from the start to avoid losing steam.
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Wrong mix of people
Having the wrong cast of characters in your group is one of the number one reasons masterminds fail.
You could be in a group of people who all like each other and would love to grab beers together, but aren’t really set up to be each other’s strategists and accountability partners.
So how can we insure we’ve got a mix of people who will gel? Coming up with a criteria for your group will set you up to select qualified members.
If you’re organizing a group, we recommend seeking people who are in a similar business stage. It’s totally cool if one of you is a food blogger, one is a personal finance podcaster, and yet another is a personal trainer.
The bigger questions is, are you roughly in the same inning of this whole thing? Is one person so far behind the rest of the group, he or she might feel too new? Or is there someone way ahead of the game who would really be more like a mentor than a peer?
Great markers for business stage are email list and revenue. If everyone in the group is in the same general neighborhood when it comes to audience size, that’s a good indication that you can help each other. There will always be some diversity in the group (which is great!) but the idea is to find peers who are just about even with you so far.
A mastermind group needs strong but balanced ground rules. If there’s no structure, an hour goes by really fast and you might just find yourselves “catching up” as friends. That sounds fun, but not exactly productive.
It also helps to have someone to keep the meeting on track and manage the time. This person isn’t a group dictator or even a leader as much as an *organizer* or secretary who is charged with making sure things stay mostly on track.
We’ve found that most successful groups seem to do some version of:
- Highs & Lows: Each person in the group takes just a minute or two to share what’s gone well and what hasn’t gone as well in the time since the group last met.
- Hot Seat: This is the real meat & potatoes of the meeting. A “hot seat” is basically a strategy session focused entirely on one person’s business. The person in the hot seat brings specific questions and roadblocks, while the rest of the group gives feedback.
- Commitments: The meeting ends with each member committing to a very specific task he or she needs to make progress on before the group gets together again.
- Staying connected between meetings: Most successful groups choose to say in touch between meetings so members can get quick feedback and cheer each other on. Use Facebook groups, Slack, email, etc.
One of the primary reasons to join a mastermind group is for the accountability — aka, to help you actually make progress and do what you said you would. If weekly commitments aren’t spoken and then captured, they disappear (and you’ll likely forget.)
Mastermind Groups can accelerate your growth, but only if they fulfill their main purpose: keeping you on track.
One game-changing mastermind tip is to have the group secretary jot down a few keywords summarizing each person’s commitment. These notes should be posted to the group’s communication channel of choice for everyone to see (and therefore, making you much more likely to actually do it!)
This may be the number one reason groups fail. When people start skipping meeting, or if they aren’t set up in advance, the group will quickly fizzle out.
We know there are real challenges here, such as time zone conflicts, family commitments, day jobs and more. But since inconsistency is such a mastermind killer, the group should commit to some amount of time to really go “all in”.
For example, when my podcasting mastermind group started meeting a few months ago, our organizer said, “Okay, if we’re doing this, we all have to fully commit for the next 6 months. No skipping meetings if you can help it, let’s give it our all for 6 months. Who’s in?”
As a result one of our founding members decided she needed to leave the group right at the beginning. We were sad to see her go, but it was critical that she recognize that she was not able to commit and cut ties early on. Otherwise, if this particular member had kept skipping meetings and holding up the group, it likely would have discouraged the rest of us.
So these are the big mistakes, pitfalls and missteps we see when it comes to Mastermind Groups. Have you been part of a group that didn’t quite get off the ground? What do you think went wrong? Or, if you’re in a group you love, how did you navigate these common obstacles? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!