How to Set Up a Mastermind Group From Scratch

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By Robyn Henderson

One of the biggest challenges you may face in your home based business is the shortage of people to bounce ideas around with. Particularly if you have previously worked in large organizations surrounded by mates and co-workers, the isolation factor can at times be crippling. And if child minding is part of your daily duties, then you may have already found that a 4 year old has no concept of the potential distribution market for your latest brainwave idea. Lets look at a possible solution to this universal home-based business challenge.

Smart home based business operators have clicked into the power of creating a regular mastermind or brainstorming group. They use this group as a sounding board for new ideas, innovations, business challenges and in many cases informal mentorship. Let’s face it, not only do you get to know this handful of people extremely well, you also get to tap into their business acumen and knowledge. And when it’s well planned and organised, it can be a win-win for all the mastermind members, not just you.

So let’s look at a ten point checklist for setting up a successful mastermind group:

  1. Every mastermind group needs a driver – an organiser. Since it’s your idea, you automatically become the organiser. And as the organiser, you will firstly want to decide what you want to achieve from the mastermind group. Make a list of at least 5 things you would hope to achieve from regular meetings with a specific group.
    TIP: Be as specific as possible here – when reviewing the results of the group, down the track, you will want to measure your results and clarity at the start will make this easier.
  2. Next, list 10 things, that you have to offer a potential mastermind group – dig deep here, maybe you can provide the venue, the refreshments, the transport – ideally if you have potentially four members – each will contribute different things.
    TIP: Don’t overcommit with your list – be realistic about time, money and energy.
  3. Now you need a list of prospective members for the group – people you know and trust, people who ideally work outside of your profession or industry. This will ensure that they can give you ideas with fresh eyes, rather than the “this is how we’ve done it for years” attitude. As you may encounter rejection from some of these potential members, it is best to list at least 10 people as prospective members. You are looking for 4-5 people with similar values and ethics to you. They may have different ways of thinking and expressing themselves, but they are known to be honest, reliable, professional and good communicators.
    TIP: the list preparation may take a week or so, don’t be disheartened though, as it is critical to have synergy within the group – and ideally people who are not all total strangers. It often helps if there is some loose non business connection between the prospects, e.g. similar sporting interests, cultural group, neighbourhood or background. You are looking for a common thread, which will make it easier to link the potential members and the thread may create an initial base of a small amount of trust – rather than a total stranger.
  4. Create a time line of when you will make contact with the prospects, when you will prepare a brief outline of what outcomes you hope to achieve with the group, the return on investment that the group members can expect, when you will meet for the first time, meeting time that suits most people, trial period time frame. Basically you are preparing your mastermind plan here that you will present to the prospects.
    TIP: It is best to over estimate this time line, rather than underestimate it at this stage. It is better to take a little longer to arrange the group, than rush in and have the group fall over within two meetings. The more prepared you are, the more your prospects will be inclined to say yes.
  5. Work out your ROI – return on investment for the group. Lets look at potentially meeting with this group twice a month for 1 hour.
    Meeting time – 1 hour
    Travel to and from venue – 2 hour
    Action to be taken post event – say 2 hours
    Total 5 hours per meeting x 2 meetings per month
    We are looking at 10 hours per month x 11 months (allowing for holidays) Total = 110 hours. Now your charge out rate may be $250 per hour multiplied by 110 hours = $27,500 (adjust your charge out rate to suit your fee)
    At a charge out rate of $250 per hour, this mastermind group is potentially going to cost you $27,500 in the next 12 months plus 2.75 weeks of your time (working on a 40 hour per week rate)
    TIP: Now do you see why its important to take the time to plan the mastermind group, set rules, make people accountable and to choose wisely. Is every person on the list worth 2.75 weeks of your time in the next 12 months?
  6. At this point in time, many mastermind groups do not proceed as the organiser throws in the towel, deeming it to be all too hard and they don’t have that much time to spare. If that is the case, consider reducing the meetings to once a month, for a longer time. Constantly be aware though of your ROI –aim for quality mastermind groups not quantity.
    TIP: Many mastermind groups end up being a “talkfest” – lots of talk – but no action being taken. Avoid this at all costs.
  7. After preparing a 1-2 page summary of your mastermind outline, make contact with your mastermind prospects and ask if you can forward the outline to them. Make sure to include the first proposed meeting date. Don’t take it personally if they reject your offer – better to have an early rejection than an overcommitted participant.
    TIP: Never assume anything. Clarify everything, don’t be afraid to state the obvious. What is obvious to you , may be totally unknown by your prospects – get commitment from all prospects to attend the first meeting
  8. On the first mastermind meeting day – plan to arrive early at the venue. Avoid consumption of alcohol during the meeting – you are wanting to set the scene that this is strictly business. You may get a no-show on the day. Many people agree in principal to something and then find that due to prior commitments or unexpected events, they cannot honour their agreement. Prepare an agenda and stick to it. Give people opportunities to discuss their business while still keeping the meeting informal at this stage. Be sure to highlight the ROI expected and discuss best and worst case scenarios. Ensure that each person has an equal amount of time to discuss their own business challenge.
    TIP: Set a date for the follow up meeting – be flexible here dependant on people’s availability. It is a good idea to commit dates for the next two –three meetings, so as to give people plenty of notice.
  9. It may take a couple of meetings before the bridge of trust is strong enough for people to let their guard down and discuss business challenges they may be having. Be patient with this.
    TIP: Always start on time, even if a couple of the group are not there. If you set the precedent of starting on time, you will keep the meeting on track and people will fall into line time wise. Once you extend the start time, no one will ever take your agenda seriously.
  10. Allow for exit clauses. You may like to place a “trial time frame” e.g. lets review this in 45 days and see how we are travelling. If things are not working out by then, we can dissolve the mastermind without any hard feelings. This one point will ensure clean breaks if required.
    TIP: Once the group has been going for a reasonable amount of time and one of the members drops out, don’t jump in with a replacement straight away. Let the group decide on and discuss a replacement over the coming meetings. You might find the synergy works better if you disband this group and start another one from scratch.
  11. “If its to be, its up to me!” (Cavett Roberts) We can find excuses every day to stay in our comfort zone and not approach others, who can help us to grow our businesses and our careers. Yet if we have courage, face our fears and make our dreams, goals and targets greater than our fears – we can have whatever we want in life. When one open mind connects with another open mind in a mastermind situation – magic always happens
    TIP: Start today – make a list of potential mastermind participants now!

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