Why entrepreneurs and parents need mastermind groups

One of the hard parts of being an entrepreneur is the psychological weight of being the key decision-maker. Every decision and metric depends on you.

Figuring out how to organize your time, stay accountable, and make everything happen without losing your mind is a real challenge. I don’t say this lightly: Not having people to talk to and bounce ideas around with can be one of the hardest parts of starting your own business.

For that reason, many entrepreneurs I know turn to mastermind accountability groups to help them stay focused and successful. Dacy Gillespie, a personal stylist and the founder of Mindful Closet, shared that “the hardest thing about running my own business has been needing to verbally process ideas without a team to run them by.” For her, the solution has been an extremely committed in-person weekly mastermind group.

Mastermind groups can bolster a sense of connectivity and conversation, help keep your business moving forward, and they can provide critical insights for leveling up faster in your business.

But what exactly is a mastermind and why are they so important?

What is a mastermind?

A mastermind is, in simplest terms, a group of people coming together regularly who are dedicated to mutual growth and improvement. Taylor Pearson, who hosts dinner meet-ups to connect authors and entrepreneurs, describes the power behind a mastermind as a way to “solve problems and take advantage of opportunities in a way that an individual person can’t.”

The idea of coming together in a small, focused group to learn from each other isn’t a new idea. In 1727, Benjamin Franklin created a Junto, or a “club for mutual improvement” in Philadelphia. The members of the group “all shared a spirit of inquiry and a desire to improve themselves, their community, and to help others,” and had a dedicated purpose, of debate and idea exchange.

And in 1925, Napolean Hill coined the idea of a “Master Mind” in his book, The Law of Success. In studying the habits of successful businessmen in the 19th and 20th centuries, he realized that had formed partnerships and groups to come together to learn, which was one of the keys to their success.

One of the key benefits of a mastermind is that it provides a space to unpack difficult puzzles and dig into the challenges you’re working through. Michele, a social entrepreneur, described the experience as “a space to ask yourself tough questions, to up your game, and learn from others’ journeys.”

How a mastermind is structured

Generally, mastermind groups are either focused on each individual’s success, or on a larger collective that everyone is invested in solving. Franklin’s first group had five members, but you can form mini-masterminds with just one other person, or create a group with 8-10 people. The groups meet for a specific period of time, for several months or up to a year, with regular events to check in on a consistent basis.

Often, there is a facilitator or guide to take you through a process, and you cluster around a common topic or journey—Natalie Eckdahl from Biz Chix, for example, requires applicants for her CEOChix mastermind to be making at least six figures, so that each member of the group is in the same stage of business and can most effectively learn from each other.

Next, let’s look at how masterminds can directly help with your business.

Benefits of being in a mastermind

You don’t need to be an entrepreneur or a business owner to benefit from a mastermind, either. Parents can learn how to become better parents, and managers who want to elevate their leadership skills can come together alongside people in similar career trajectories. Some companies even offer masterminds as part of their training programs for early managers.

What’s important is that you have a shared vision or common ground with the other members. Jessica Ashley, the founder of Single Mom Nation (and a participant in a mastermind that I facilitated), explained that a mastermind group is “people who come together with a shared investment in digging in deep to goals, ideas, and ways to be even better at what we do.”

Why masterminds can help with your business

Entrepreneurs are in the business of solving problems for others. But what we often overlook is how difficult it is, and what structures to can put into place to mitigate against the common challenges people face as entrepreneurs. Here are nine great benefits masterminds provide if you join one.

Here are some of the benefits that masterminds can provide

  1. Accountability.
  2. Regular connection.
  3. Networks beyond your own to tap into.
  4. A trusted circle of colleagues to help you make decisions.
  5. A chance to learn from other businesses and leaders.
  6. A confidential space to discuss challenges and problems.
  7. A laboratory to learn and experiment.
  8. A reflection of your own wisdom and expertise as you help others.
  9. And potentially long-term friendships and connections.

Having people around to call on when you need it is one of the soundest investments you can make. These are people you can call on to help you talk through tough decisions, and people whose businesses and lives you become a part of.

One thing that will always matter, regardless of what business or industry you’re in, is who you’re connected to. Our access to networks and the value of our weak ties are some of the greatest predictors of our future success. Yet time and time again people invest in courses or materials, but not in connections with other people. Investing in your connections to others through masterminds can provided a trusted circle of friends and colleagues to help you make decisions, it can keep you accountable on a regular basis, and it can be a place to learn, grow, and build your own skills. And, during the hard times, it can help you keep your chin up and persevere.

Know this, too: uncertainty and frustration in any entrepreneurial journey are the markers of growth, not failure — and having a community around us to witness our growth and struggle can make all the difference.

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