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Mastermind Groups: What Are They, and How Can They Help You Grow Your Business?

Ever notice how successful businesspeople never go it alone? They surround themselves with like-minded peers, and together, they climb the ladder of success. Why? Because leaders know all too well you become like the people you hang around.

So, why do only 37% of small-business owners get regular advice, encouragement and accountability from other small-business owners?1 And here’s the million-dollar question for you: Who are you climbing with?

To level up in business, you have to make intentional connections with people who are busting their tails to hit big goals like you are. Period.

You might not even know what “climbing with others” is supposed to look like, let alone how to find trusted people to do it with. And that’s where mastermind groups come in. These groups can look as different as your peer group. But their purpose is the same: to bring people together who will help each other grow personally and professionally. That’s information worth unpacking, so let’s climb on!

Related article: What Is a BHAG (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal)?

What Are Mastermind Groups?

To clear up any worries, mastermind groups aren’t a bunch of Jedi Masters who use the Force to get ahead in business. (Although being a Jedi Master would be cool.) But they can help you crush your goals while you make some amazing friends in the process.

The idea of mastermind groups has been around for decades. It was popularized by bestselling author Napoleon Hill in his books The Law of Success and Think and Grow Rich. Napoleon referred to mastermind groups as friendly alliances of people who encourage each other to follow through on their plans and purpose.

You can also think of them as small groups of people so committed to growing in their business, career or skill set that they meet regularly to brainstorm, hold one another accountable, and help each other succeed. During their time together—either online or in person—mastermind group members share their dreams, establish deadline-driven goals to reach them, and offer each other support and advice. A special kind of magic happens when you’re part of a small group of highly motivated people who come together to defy odds and win in areas you care about most.

Ramsey Solutions’ EntreLeadership Advisory Groups are a good example of a type of business mastermind group. Every month, under the guidance of peer advisory-group coaches, business owners and executive leaders from all over the United States connect online to learn from and challenge each other.

Related article: What Is Leadership Coaching?

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What Happens in Typical Mastermind Groups?

You’ll find that every mastermind-type group is structured a little differently. With EntreLeadership Advisory Groups, coaches facilitate the conversation and make sure everyone has time in their 75 minutes together to work through these four areas:

  • Check-in: What’s a personal or professional win you’ve had in the last two weeks?
  • Accountability: Did you do your action item from the last session?
  • Discussion: What are you working through right now that the group can help you with?
  • Action items: What would you like to be held accountable for by the next meeting?

As the members share their victories, struggles and even excuses, there’s almost always another group member who’s already been there and done that, so they can weigh in with practical insight. That makes for powerful empathy, celebration and even a kick in the pants (when you need it) to keep moving forward.

What Are the Benefits of Joining a Mastermind Group?

Six in 10 small-business owners say it’s lonely at the top.2 You solve problems alone, make decisions alone, and finish most workdays emotionally and physically exhausted. So what if we told you mastermind groups offer trust, wisdom, accountability, growth and acceleration from people who understand what you’re dealing with? Pretty amazing, right? And that’s exactly what we’re telling you! Here’s what we mean—and what you can expect to find in a group:

  • Trusted advisors: When you experience a challenge in your business or personal life, your tight-knit mastermind group speaks from experience to guide you. Think of your group like a board of advisors who’ve walked a similar path, realize your potential, and are ready to ask the hard questions and do whatever they can to help you succeed.
    Related article: Everything You Need to Know About Critical Thinking Skills for Business Leaders
  • Wisdom from the trenches: Because they’ve walked a walk like yours, the people in your mastermind group offer solid “what not to do” advice—along with wise counsel on what you should do. Sure, your spouse, best friend or pastor can encourage you too. But if they haven’t experienced what you’re going through, there’s only so much wisdom they can share. The people in your mastermind network have been in the same trenches, which makes their feedback especially relevant.
  • Accountability: Think about what happens to people when they only answer to themselves. They nose-dive to the worst, often weirdest, version of themselves. When you allow others to help smooth your rough edges and guide you away from your personal danger zones, you avoid disaster and maintain progress toward your goals. In mastermind groups, you can speak your dreams to people who believe in you so much they’re not afraid to hold you to your goals—and tell you what you need to hear to reach them. And when you have to face this group and give an update on your progress, you better believe you’re going to knock down every freaking door until you’ve done the thing. Accountability alone is worth the investment of joining a mastermind group.
  • A network of the right people: Let’s face it, you can hang around people all you want, but if your circle is full of successful jerks, you’re just going to become another successful jerk. Remember—you become who you hang around. Mastermind groups widen your circle of connections and align you with “friendly alliances” just as committed as you are to being and doing better.
    Related articleEntreLeadership: The 3 Best Leadership Conferences
  • Quicker, deeper growth: When you tap into all these benefits with consistency and focus, you can’t help but grow. You’ll learn more and mature faster than you ever would on your own.

What Are Some Influential Mastermind Groups?

In case you’re wondering if this is all just theory, it’s not. Successful people—across every industry—have turned to mastermind groups for centuries to increase their capacity and reach their potential. Have a look at a few examples.

  • Adam Sandler, Kevin James, David Spade and Chris Rock have a lot in common. They all starred in the hit comedy Grown Ups. And they’ve also been a band of brothers helping each other grow in their craft. In different seasons, the hilarious foursome has spent regular, intentional time together to challenge, inspire and critique one another’s jokes. Why? Because they’re serious about comedy and want to be at the top of their game.
  • Then we have the Inklings, a group of a dozen or more writers that included legendary authors C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. The Inklings gathered regularly to share manuscripts, poems or a new chapter of a book in progress and receive critique, encouragement and advice. Lewis wrote more than 30 popular books including The Chronicles of Narnia series, which has sold more than 120 million copies. And Tolkien authored The Lord of the Rings trilogy. That was one heck of a mastermind group!
  • Finally, Benjamin Franklin gathered the same group of friends every Friday night to discuss topics like morals, politics and natural philosophy. They called the group the Junto Club, and out of it, many public projects like the lending library were launched.

Think of successful people in any industry and you’re likely to find a group of others who walked alongside them and played a role in their accomplishments. That’s the power of mastermind groups.

What Are the Requirements to Join a Mastermind Group?

Mastermind requirements and qualifications vary based on who’s running the group. You can start a mastermind group with people you already know—making the requirement simply who you know. Or you can start or join one with an application and interview process. Still others base the group on your industry and years of experience.

Bullseye

Every business goes through five distinct stages. Find out which stage your business is in with our free assessment.

EntreLeadership groups are specifically open to business owners, and before they jump into their first session, each Advisory Group member commits to the following five core values. You can take these values and apply them to your own group.

  1. Be here. In other words, show up to the sessions in body and mind. No driving, checking emails, taking calls or other distractions. This is your time to actively connect with your group.
  2. Be helpful. Be an active listener and share your experience and input that others can learn from.
  3. Be honest. Be known for sharing the whole truth of what you’re going through. Most people will give you 90% of what they’re processing. Go the extra 10%.
  4. Be humble. Come to every session open, empathetic and ready to help everyone feel safeand also ready to receive what others have to give to you.
  5. Have fun. Yeah, you’re serious about business and getting stuff done, but be serious about having fun and pumping others up too!

Beyond that, your current role, industry, level of leadership and stage of business are factored into whether Advisory Groups are a good fit for you.  

Related article: EntreLeadership: What Are the 5 Stages of Business?

Should I Join a Mastermind Group in My Specific Industry?

Whether you choose to join a mastermind group specific to your industry or one that’s from outside your industry is up to you. People get a lot out of either option, so it really depends on what you’re looking for. Let’s check out the benefits of both types.

3 Advantages of Joining a Non-Industry-Specific Mastermind Group:

1. It’s full of creativity. 

When you’re a part of a diverse group, you often enjoy more creative problem-solving. Imagine you’re a property manager who brings a challenge to a group that includes a software engineer, an attorney, a health care executive and a CEO of a nonprofit. Each of them can offer creative approaches that give you all kinds of solutions to your blockers.

2. You get outside perspective. 

Once you’ve been in your job or field for a while, you sometimes get too close to the work. And when you live in the same problems day after day, it’s hard to see past them. Getting perspective from people outside your bubble often helps you clear the cobwebs and see a whole new world of possibilities.

3. There’s a focus on solutions.

When folks are in an industry-specific group, the conversation can spiral into a gripe fest about that industry. With non-industry-specific groups, members often face similar types of problems—morale issues, budget cuts, regulation hoops to jump through—but without all the industry baggage and knowledge. This helps them turn their attention to the common problems and how to solve them. Pretty great, right?

Now, let’s flip the coin.

3 Advantages of Joining an Industry-Specific Mastermind Group:

1. Your people get it. 

When you’re in a mastermind group of professionals from your industry, chances are, they’ve been in your shoes. That makes it easier to skip certain explanations and backstories. Not only does this save you time and energy, but it also gives you confidence you’re getting advice from people who know what you’re going through and how you can overcome it. Take insurance professionals, for example. Those people learn a lot to become successful licensed agents—insurance laws, calculations, terms and definitions, plus tons of business and people skills. So if you happen to be an insurance agent, hats off. And if you’re looking for a mastermind group with other great insurance pros, RamseyTrusted Pros has some of the best agents in the marketplace to connect with.

2. Everyone benefits.

When your entire group works in the same industry, everyone can leave the conversation with important takeaways and relevant advice. Talk about group efficiency! Also, when every member can benefit, they’re more likely to stay engaged in the conversation.

3. You stay ahead of the curve.

This is probably one of the biggest benefits of industry-specific mastermind groups. When Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, “The only constant in life is change,” he had no idea just how true that statement would be today. Technology now changes faster than politicians can change their minds! But when you surround yourself regularly with other industry professionals, you can share new trends, understand their pros and cons, and have a fighting chance to stay ahead of the competition.

We know . . . we didn’t make it easy to choose your type of mastermind group, did we? The good news is, being in a group where you share your goals with people you respect increases your chances of hitting bigger targets. 

Before you search out a mastermind group, here are three final factors to consider:

  • Competition: If you choose an industry-specific mastermind group, make sure everyone in the group lives and works in different regions. The last thing you want is to share your business challenges with folks you’re competing with.
  • Generosity: In either type of group, aim to give more than you receive. That’s right. When everyone comes to the table with a heart to serve, you’ll all benefit more than you ever dreamed possible. But if everyone is only in it to take something away, no one wins.
  • Drive: There’s no mastermind rulebook that says you can only be in one group at a time. If you’re not sure whether you prefer a mastermind group within or outside your industry, try both if you can.

Are Mastermind Groups Online as Valuable as Those That Meet in Person?

Absolutely! Joining any mastermind group expands your network, and if you joined an online group (or two!), that would widen the circle of people you can learn from even more. Online mastermind groups also make it so much easier for you to commit, because when groups meet online, members:

  • Are more likely to arrive on time
  • Can join from wherever is most convenient for them, even when they’re traveling
  • Don’t have to include travel time on their calendar, which saves time

With high-quality video conferencing technology, there’s no reason a virtual group can’t be just as beneficial as an in-person one.

How Do You Find a Mastermind Group to Join?

Here are a few ways you can find a mastermind group to join:

  • Find out if one of your business mentors or an organization you follow, like EntreLeadership, has a mastermind program.
  • Ask friends and coworkers for referrals.
  • Do a web search for potential groups led by a coach or facilitator.
  • Start your own group. Simply gather people in your community with shared values and goals, and meet regularly.

Joining a coach-led group often comes at a cost. Most groups do include a fee to join. But that’s actually a good thing—because members with skin in the game tend to be more committed than those who jump before they’re ready to bring their best. Productivity expert Laura Vanderkam puts it this way: “If you’ve paid for it, you’re more likely to show up.”3

Whether it's free or paid, don't just think about it—actually join one. Because while we've told you pretty much everything you ever wanted to know about mastermind groups, the best way to really understand the power of these groups is to try one.

 

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About the author

Ramsey

Ramsey Solutions has been committed to helping people regain control of their money, build wealth, grow their leadership skills, and enhance their lives through personal development since 1992. Millions of people have used our financial advice through 22 books (including 12 national bestsellers) published by Ramsey Press, as well as two syndicated radio shows and 10 podcasts, which have over 17 million weekly listeners. Learn More.

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