Part of that renewed energy has been a newfound love of business podcasts and audible books. Over the summer, it seemed like every business expert was talking about "mastermind groups" and how great they can be for business owners:
"You NEED a mastermind group!"
"A mastermind group will change your business."
"Go start a mastermind group as soon as possible."
It sounded like a great idea, and I decided to put one together – and I've seen a tremendous benefit to my business and to me personally.
So what's a mastermind group?
Here's the idea: you get a group of like-minded business owners together, meet to discuss what's been going on in your business world, and learn and grow from each other.
Anyone can bring up issues they've run into and ask the group for advice. Business owners supporting business owners. Or, as dear friend of mine (and fellow mastermind group member) called it, an honorary board of directors for your business.
The first step to setting up our own mastermind group was getting in touch with other local business owners to see if they were interested.
The first person I contacted was the friend I mentioned above. She'd already reached out to me about the possibility of getting a group started a while back, so it was a great start.
We decided we wanted to recruit people that met three criteria:
We thought long and hard about a female group vs. a female/male group. I loved the idea of an all-female group because I knew that I would be more open, transparent and authentic with an all-female posse.
It's a unique experience to run a business as a woman, and all of the members in our group are mothers, too – which can be an added challenge to managing a business. As females, I hoped, we'd be there to support each other as women and be more open with our struggles and successes.
2. Business owners
It was critical to us that members were business owners. Though I know many powerful and talented employees and managers in our area with a wealth of experience and knowledge, it's a totally different experience owning and operating business – like worrying whether or not you're going to make next month's payroll. We wanted our group to have a set of shared experiences in business so we could learn from one another.
3. Local to our area
We've got a vibrant small business community here in Columbia, Missouri (COMO pride!) that stretches across a wide range of fields – from creativepreneurs to boutique owners to service providers. We're a midsize college town with a population of 100,000 and growing rapidly, and Columbia, MO is a great place to live, raise a family, and find economic opportunity.
So it was important to us that Mastermind members were local: This way we are all familiar with our area's business climate, resources, and local issues. Additionally, finding local members meant we could all meet up in person and form a face-to-face support network.
We rounded up a group of 5 badass women business owners and began meeting this summer.
Q: So how is it going?
I can't say enough good things about this mastermind group. I will be another one of those people singing the praises of starting a circle like this for yourself, just like the podcasts I've listened to recommend. Even though I was very excited to meet with a group like this, I had no idea what the benefits would be or how quickly I would see a return.
But within days of our first meeting, we decided to meet more often (every other week) because we found the meetings so beneficial. Every single person left with clarity and a renewed energy for their business.
It's been an amazing resource that encourages me to push forward with what I'm doing. I think it's a great option for business owners – and #womeninbiz especially – to reach out and find strong support for one another. It's be great for all of us, and I want to help you get started too! So, without further ado...
My 3 tips for starting your own mastermind group:
1. Keep your group small.
This is in the interest of time. Our group has only five members, but to cover the five businesses takes us two hours. And we could certainly go longer! A larger group would require a bigger time commitment or else would require us to alternate which business we focus on during each meeting. We chose to keep the group small so that we have the opportunity to address every business equally during every meeting we hold.
2. Create a structured order of events.
We follow a speaking order where each member speaks during their turn, one at a time, and then gets feedback. The next meeting, we reverse the order so no one is always left going last. We meet on the same day, at the same time, every other week for two hours. This consistent structure keeps it easy to remember and schedule for busy bosses.
3. share one ASK and one GIVE.
I've found this to be critical to our success. If our group did not have a communication model for every meeting, we could easily get off topic or spend 30 minutes catching up.
During our meeting time, we all provide one ask and one give. The ask is an issue we are dealing with currently like "I have an employee who is always late." The give is something we have recently found/read/started using that we know would benefit other business owners, i.e. "We've started using Slack, and couldn't be happier," or "Have you read this great book? It's changed the way I think about my customers."
All in all...
This mastermind group has made me feel more confident about my decisions and has given me that resource I was missing when it comes to questions about my biz. I walk away from those meetings feeling like Beyonce, and who wouldn't want some more of that? WHO RUN THE WORLD!?
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