You’re wrong. Yep, I said it and I’ll say it again.
You’re wrong, but so are most entrepreneurs in the beginning stages of their business.
You’re wrong about your beliefs about Mastermind Groups.
You see, most earlier-stage entrepreneurs think that any group meeting on a regular basis is a Mastermind.
Au contraire, mon soeur!
Let’s clear up those pesky misunderstandings about the differences and purposes of both DIY accountability groups and Mastermind Groups.
THAT IS NOT A MASTERMIND GROUP
I hear from entrepreneurs all the time: “I’m in a Mastermind Group!” To which, I get super excited for them because I know how a powerful Mastermind can be for businesses and their owners.
But, after asking some questions, I find out they’re in a do-it-yourself, patched-together group of sorts. Wah wah. Bummer, dude (I want to say that, but usually refrain myself).
These groups usually come together in a Facebook Group when an eager beaver posts something like this:
“Hey, so I want to be in a mastermind group and I was wondering if anyone else wants to join me.”
A bunch of enthusiastic, but indiscriminate people you don’t really know say: “YEAH! Let’s do it.”
So you get together with your group once a week or every other week and everyone haphazardly talks about what’s going on in their business.
After a few times getting together, you start to realize:
- You are at a completely different stage of your business than the other people in the group.
- You find yourself giving way more to the group than you’re getting.
- Nobody really keeps the conversation moving in the right direction
- There’s no true accountability or structure, but rather people talking about the latest crisis of the day
- People aren’t taking it seriously and are missing meetings.
- You like the people a whole lot, but the group isn’t helping you grow your business.
Most often, these groups fizzle out on their own after someone gets up the courage to say it’s not working for them and they’re going to step away – then everyone else follows.
ACCOUNTABILITY GROUPS ROCK FOR NEWER ENTREPRENEURS
Now I’m not saying there’s no value to these kinds of groups. There is! But they need to be set up properly and the expectations need to be sensible.
Interestingly, these DIY Accountability Groups are fantastic for early-stage entrepreneurs and side-hustlers while Masterminds are not. Why is that?
Masterminds rely on the experience and knowledge of seasoned business owners to guide and advice the others in the group. When you have a whole bunch of early-state people in a group giving each other advice, it really is the blind leading the blind and it can be damaging and hurtful.
It’s not useful to receive regurgitated information that someone else has read in a book, seen in an online course or picked up from a Facebook post. There’s no discernment or real-world experience brought into that conversation. There just can’t be when everyone in the group is fairly new and has limited experience.
That doesn’t mean these ad hoc groups are totally useless though.
STRUCTURING ACCOUNTABILITY GROUPS
If structured properly, DIY Accountability Groups can be great because the group is focused on accountability rather than giving each other advice and peer coaching.
I recommend that these kinds of groups stay solely focused on accountability. Each person shares, in detail, their number one, strategic initiative between now and the next time the group meets. Then at that next meeting, each shares an update on their accountability item and gives themselves an evaluation on how well they did achieving their item. That’s it.
This kind of structure is extraordinarily useful for entrepreneurs who are in the first year or so of business because it helps them to continue to move forward and gain the momentum they need to get their business off the ground.
AND, most importantly, it keeps them out situations where they’re receiving input and guidance from people who also are still trying to get their bearings themselves.
Think of it this way: you wouldn’t go to a first-year med student to get advice on how to clear up that nagging itch you’ve been having. They could probably look up your condition in a book and repeat back to you what they’ve just read, but they have zero experience with your condition. Chances are, you’re going to keep itching.
Same deal with business: don’t look to other novices for business advice. Rather, look for them to support you with a little bit of accountability.
WHAT IS A MASTERMIND GROUP?
Mastermind Groups are peer mentoring groups that push, support and guide each other. They are remarkably powerful when the group has the right mix of people, an effective structure for collaboration and a dedicated facilitator.
Because they are peer-focused groups (versus guru or coach-lead), it’s important that everyone in the group is qualified and can bring their real-world experiences to the party.
Proper Mastermind Groups can short-cut learning curves and help you see your blind spots – because you get input and advice from others who have gone before you.
They can also bring vetted resources and contacts to your business. It’s like having the network of the entire group available.
Another huge benefit of being in a true Mastermind group is that it’s an instant support system of people who “get” you. Your group is there to support and encourage you. They’re there to pick you up after big losses and to celebrate with you after big wins.
You can’t get that kind of support from a group of new entrepreneurs. It’s an unreasonable ask for people who are just trying to figure it out themselves.
This is why I recommend that people join a Mastermind Group when they are full-time in their business and making a living (even if small) from their revenues for at least one year.
Not only is that the right time for you to join a group, but those are the things to look for when seeking out a group yourself. You don’t want to set yourself up for frustration and a non-productive obligation.
ACCOUNTABILITY OR MASTERMIND?
Whether you’re in your early stages of starting your business or you’re established, there is a group type that will support your growth to the next stage.
Accountability Groups for newer business owners.
Mastermind Groups for established business owners.
Make sure you are being in integrity and intellectually honest with yourself when choosing whatever kind of group best serves you.
There’s no shame in starting at the beginning with an Accountability Group. You can’t cut corners on the process of developing a sustainable company.
And when it’s time to significantly up-level, find yourself a Mastermind Group filled with other extraordinary, like-minded CEOs with whom you can collectively ascend.
About the Author
Sara Christensen has started and ran five businesses over the past 20+ years. Her largest was doing $10 million in revenue per year and employed 75 people before she sold it. Before devoting herself full-time to her own businesses, Sara worked as the Head of Marketing and Business Development for several high-tech companies. She has a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communications from St. Cloud State University in Minnesota. Sara is currently obsessed with helping other business owners grow their companies through her latest venture: Kickass Masterminds. When she’s not connecting awesome entrepreneurs to each other, she can be found sipping bourbon or using way too many Post-It notes.
Email Sara at email@example.com