Owning your own business can be lonely.
We all dream of the day of leaving someone else's employment for the freedom of becoming our own boss with no one else to answer to.
But with that freedom, comes a feeling of isolation.
When you work for someone else, you have your peers and your managers and bosses to speak with. You have the opportunity to discuss ideas and challenges, or just someone to complain about work in general.
With your own business, all of these conversations happen in your head.
You see, there are no peers, there are no co-workers to chat with. The only boss you can complain about is yourself.
Once the rush of starting a new business wears off, this isolation can become a real problem, especially when you start running into challenges that you are not sure how to handle.
And yes, you may have some employees that you chat with day to day, but can they really help you to work out some of the real challenges you have in front of you? Are you going to let them know about your cash flow problems or how all of your current marketing initiatives are producing nothing in the way of new business?
No, you won't. You'll keep those skeletons to yourself and feel your stress levels rise along with your blood pressure.
You need peers that understand the challenges you face
Research conducted by Brigham Young University and the University of North Carolina reviewed 148 studies on social relationships and concluded: “that people with stronger social relationships had a 50% increased likelihood of survival than those with weaker social relationships.”
It's the same with business, you need strong social connections in order to thrive. In this case, you need strong connections with your peers in order to thrive. You need a group of fellow business owners who are going through the same struggles you are.
A mastermind group is where you as a business owner can discuss successes and challenges with like-minded business owners. You can discuss things that your friends, family, and employees would not understand or relate to.
So what is a mastermind group?
Napolean Hill coined the term mastermind group in his 1937 landmark book about personal success, “Think and Grow Rich”. A mastermind is a group of individuals with their own experiences, talents, and insights who work together to collaborate, brainstorm and support one another. For a business mastermind, this would be a group of business owners who gather to support each other, brainstorm new ideas and help to solve each other's challenges so they can grow both their business and themselves.
It's like having your own board of directors, a group of smart people who are invested in helping you succeed.
That sounds pretty good, doesn't it?
The sad part is that the vast majority of business owners don't know what a mastermind is, let alone belong to one. Most assume it is some sort of networking or referral group, like one you would find on Meetup.com
The truth is, mastermind groups have been around for a long time and there have been some very famous mastermind groups over the years.
The Vagabonds formed in 1915 and lasted until 1924, with the death of Warren Harding and the increasing media attention the group was getting.
The group consisted of business titans Thomas Edison, Harvey Firestone (Firestone Tire & Rubber Company), US President Warren Harding, Henry Ford of the Ford Motor Company and Luther Burbank. All were famous men of their time who believed in the power of a mastermind group.
The group would routinely plan camping trips where they would discuss the news of the day, as well as business challenges and opportunities they each faced. They would also spend time holding impromptu tree chopping and climbing contests and other recreational activities.
The Inklings were a famous literary mastermind group in England that consisted of CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien, Charles Williams and Owen Barfield. The Lord of The Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia were both honed and improved in the mastermind group.
Over tea, pipe smoke, and beer, the group would meet at a local pub, the Eagle and Child (Or the “Bird & Baby”, as the Inklings referred to) or at CS Lewis's room at Magdalen College. There they would read their current writings aloud and the group would offer criticisms and commentary on each other's writings.
This was a group of literary giants who discovered that they could take their writing to greater heights by bonding together in a mastermind group.
What a mastermind group consists of
A group of like-minded individuals who see the power of working with a group of peers to help them achieve more than they could alone.
A mastermind group meets on a regular schedule. This could be weekly, monthly, or any other schedule everyone agrees to.
Every member of a mastermind has an equal voice. They are given adequate time each meeting to discuss any challenges they are currently facing.
A mastermind group is about growth, not just socializing. Members set goals for themselves and the other members help keep each other accountable for reaching these goals.
The conversations that go on in a mastermind group are candid. The conversations that happen are private to the group so members can feel safe discussing their biggest challenges and opportunities. A confidentiality agreement is often signed by incoming members.
Find a mastermind group or start your own
If a mastermind group sounds like something you would like to be apart of, then go find one. Most cities will have at least a few of them, though you might have to do some searching. I have been in Charlotte for 4 years now and was struggling to find one, so I started my own mastermind group in Charlotte.
When you do start your search, you'll find that some groups call themselves a mastermind group, but they are not. A mastermind group is not a networking group, it's not a group coaching class and it's not a place where you go to sell something or to generate leads. A mastermind is a group of smart people who want to grow their business more than they can do alone.
A mastermind group should be small, usually 4-8 people. Smaller than that and the energy and momentum can feel a bit flat. If you have more than that and not everyone will have a chance to voice their challenges and to get meaningful feedback from the group.
If you can't find a mastermind group in your area, then consider starting your own mastermind group. If you have questions about how to organize one, you can contact me here.