Note from Shlomo: Ryan Champion is a member of our Lean startup meetup in Beijing. After I published the last posts about our mastermind Ryan mentioned he has been to a few as well and can give some of his experience over those explaining what to expect when joining a Mastermind and getting most out of it. Ryan take it from here!
So you’ve got a business , or even a business idea. You’ve heard about this mastermind stuff and now you’re thinking “Yeah, sounds great. I could get some help with my project and get things going….”
You’re absolutely right. Getting into a mastermind can be one of the best returns on investment you can make along the journey of your business. Personally I think they’re great, and I use them as a regular part of my development as an entrepreneur.
But how do they function? What forms do they take? What are the costs and benefits? Here’s a few thoughts from my own experiences of masterminding with both established business owners and bootstrapping entrepreneurs.
There Are Different Kinds of Mastermind
Masterminds come in different forms just like any kind of gathering, be it online or offline. The number of participants and the way the mastermind is run don’t have fixed rules- all are slightly different.
The most popular form is the “hot seat” formula.
In this method each participant spends a few minutes sharing their business news since the last meeting. After that, the member in the hot seat will spend 15-20 minutes elaborating on a recent problem and share it with the group.
For the rest of the time, other members begin by asking questions around that issue in an effort to accurately diagnose the problem. They then offer information, advice, and support to the member in the hot seat. The hot seat is rotated every meeting to give each member a chance to seek help during their turn. Over time you develop a familiarity with each others’ situations and foster an extensive level of understanding between members.
Be Clear About What You Want From Any Mastermind
A mastermind is not a magic wand for your business. If you enter into a mastermind you need to be realistic about what you’re looking to get, and also what you’re prepared to give.
Thinking that other people will fix your business for you is a definite recipe for disaster.
Two golden rules for masterminds:
1. Begin by giving. By offering to others you are starting a positive cycle and setting a tone of leadership for others to follow. By doing this, you instantly gain respect from others in the group and foster an environment of sharing.
2. Know your own limits. Sometimes it’s about doing less. If you have no experience to contribute on a particular topic, then allow time and space for others to run with ideas. Demonstrate your ability to listen and learn on areas where you have less expertise.
The trick in this situation is to pick up as much as possible from the other participants , and be patient to see if there is a way you can help the process. That may come weeks or even months after the initial idea is floated, so don’t feel pressured to perform. That’s not the point of the process. The idea is to support each other, so try to keep that top of your agenda at all times.
Who Should I Mastermind With?
It’s really important to choose your mastermind well. Other members should have something in common with you first and foremost. Someone running an e-commerce store may have little common ground with a fruit and vegetable seller.
On the other hand, there is nothing wrong in masterminding with people from different industries. Cross-pollinating ideas from different types of business can provide valuable input and a fresh perspective. This is advocated hugely by business don Jay Abraham who has made a fortune from consulting across different industries and using tricks from one to innovate in the other.
In my opinion, this method has great surprise value. Someone outside of your industry will not be restrained by such things as your standard practices and mindset, and may well be able to suggest you a shortcut that you would literally never have considered.
Rules And Regulations
The most important factor in the mastermind is to have clear leadership and sensible guidelines. All members need to have a commitment to regular attendance and adherence to rules , if not you may find that things fall apart very quickly.
A minimum term should be agreed and there should also be a strict policy on non-attendance and or eviction from the group. If not, the mastermind can just become a casual chat by whoever decides to be there each week – and that’s not what you all signed up for.
If you think that there is a chance you can’t commit to a regular time for the mastermind, then it’s probably better that you discuss your application with the organiser.
The Good News
A successful mastermind can be rocket fuel for your business. I have personally been in over 4 masterminds in recent years. The commitment that is formed between business owners to genuinely assist each other can be unrivalled.
As entrepreneurs, it’s definitely not easy to find like-minded people who are prepared to support you and listen to your fears and help you through confusing decisions. Every business is unique in some way, even if that uniqueness is just you and your take on an existing business model.
By investing time in other members, participants get to know each other and their respective businesses in a way that completely surpasses any casual advice or short term consulting. When done correctly, a mastermind is one of the best ways to stimulate and challenge yourself both as a business owner and as a person.
This guest post is by Ryan Champion. Ryan spent 6 years in China as a business trainer at clients such as Standard Chartered Bank, Cannon, and LG.
He now runs KillerContent UK, an online marketing provider for digital agencies in the UK. He also writes for Eggplant Digital, a British owned web design company based in Beijing.