Yesterday, I changed the theme on my personal Wordpress site for the fourth time in a week. If you’re not familiar with the process, changing a theme isn’t like slipping on a new dress. It’s more like rearranging the furniture in the living room. You move the couch and now the table doesn’t fit, so you move the table but the lamp cord isn’t long enough, so you buy a new lamp and then. . . . you get the idea.
I keep changing my theme because I’m a bad judge of my own work. That sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? If I can’t trust my own judgment then why should others trust me? I’ll tell you why, because I’m great when it comes to advising other people. I can help you hone your concept, increase your social media presence, come up with new marketing ideas; I’m super when I’m not trying to be my own client. And I’m not alone in that.
There are dozens of old sayings to back up this point; the best barber has the worst hair; the shoemaker’s children go barefoot. We’re always better at tending to others than we are about tending to ourselves.
To solve this problem, you could spend the next ten years meditating quietly in a zen garden or you could join a mastermind group today.
Don’t get put off by the highfalutin sound of the term. I know, it sounds like a collection of international jewel thieves meeting in secret to plan their next heist. The term mastermind also implies a high level of expertise but even that isn’t required for success. All you really need is a small group of like-minded people who are willing to give as much as they receive. That last part is the important part and the hardest part.
A good mastermind group is like having a therapist, business coach, life coach and best friend in one room at the same time. The group can offer opinions, help you work through your current issues and offer suggestions to help you move forward. They also work as an accountability partner. It’s harder to skip a step when you know you’ll have to answer to the group on Friday.
Putting Together the Perfect Quorum
Joining or starting a mastermind group is an investment, so you want to make sure it’s a good fit for the long haul. Here are a few concepts to consider.
Size: more than 5 but less than 10. This is enough to get a wide range of opinions without being overwhelming. Plus, with fewer people, you know everyone will get a turn to get and offer help in an hour session.
Time Zones: it’s a small world after all but that won’t help you if you have to get up at 5 am to meet with your partners from across the sea. A cultural mix is super, just try not to cross too many time zones or you’ll never find a mutually agreeable time to meet.
Time Available: You want people who can meet minimally once every other week for an hour otherwise it's not fair to the rest of the group.
Fields: It’s best if everyone comes from different but related fields. For example, a fashion designer and a jewelry designer would be great together but a doctor is going to send you off track.
Business Stage: Stick with a group that is no more than 1 step higher or lower than you. People who are far behind are going to drag you down with basic questions they could figure out themselves if they did a little research. People who are far beyond you are going to frustrate you because you’re not hitting their level of expectation.
That last sentence is going to raise eyebrows but let’s be honest with each other. People do rise with the level of the room, so having successful people around you is a boost but think it through. You’re making $200 a month selling handmade cards and the guy next to you is selling Ferraris. He’s talking about luxury clients and dropping $1,000’s of dollars on online advertising. That’s not going to help you or your business. Spend an hour with a woman who grew her craft business from $200 to $2,000 a month over the past year and that’s time well spent.
Finding Your Peeps
So how do you find all of these perfectly suited people? If you’re an IndieMade site owner, you’re already in great company. Type IndieMade into the Google search and you’ll find hundreds of IndieMaders just like you. You can also find them through our official Facebook group. Then start reaching out. So many small business owners would like to join a mastermind group but they don’t know where to begin. Your email will be a welcome surprise. If not, move on.
Look for other members on Twitter or Etsy or other ecommerce venues. Just make it clear that you’re only gauging interest right now, not making an offer. It’s exciting to get a positive response but remember the rules of a perfect quorum. You don’t want to over promise then have to turn people away because you got 200 responses or because a person’s a bad fit.
A poorly constructed group can sap your energy and become another bothersome item on your To Do list. But a well-matched group of like-minded, creative people will raise your spirits and make you feel more confident about every decision you make.
Once you have a group, make a schedule and stick to it. Begin with introductions and then ask members to send around their questions prior to the next meeting. Be prepared to lead the discussion and cut it off when it goes on too long. Having an agenda will help you make sure it’s time well spent for everyone.
There are mastermind groups that charge members in order to insure their participation but if you’re just starting out, a simple meeting of the minds for free is the way to go. It may take awhile to get the perfect group of people but once you do it’ll be worth every moment invested.
Would you like to join or start a mastermind group? Let everyone know in the comments below and maybe you’ll find the perfect match.