Mastermind groups, or masterminds, are a great way to connect with like-minded entrepreneurs, grow your business acumen, and get support and new perspectives building your own business. Thanks to the huge value they provide, mastermind groups are touted by online entrepreneurship experts like Pat Flynn and Jamie Tardy as vital to their business success.
Mastermind groups have been transformative in my own business and played a key role in my journey from a cubicle dweller to a self-employed, online freelancer making $10,000+ every month. If you are looking to take your business, career, or lifestyle to the next level, mastermind groups can help. Let’s dive in and look at what a mastermind group is, how they work, how to run a mastermind, and how it can fit into your long-term business plan.
What is a mastermind?
To start, we have to answer an important question: what is a mastermind? There are several types of mastermind groups out there, but we are going to focus on traditional, small group masterminds today.
A mastermind is a group of people who meet on a regular basis to help each other solve important problems. Those can be related to business or personal life. The key to a successful mastermind is a group of dedicated participants who agree to meet and community on a regular basis in support of both individual and common goals.
Each mastermind group can decide the best way to meet and communicate. That may include weekly emails, ongoing discussions in Slack, regular video conference calls, a Facebook group, in-person meetups, or any combination of those meeting methods.
I have been in a few mastermind groups myself over the years. One involved a weekly email and monthly meeting. My current mastermind group has a weekly video call and ongoing chat on Slack. No one was better than another, it is all about the specific group, dynamic, needs, and goals.
Mastermind group definition
Mastermind groups and similar groups have been around for a long time. The idea was popularized by author Napoleon Hill. In his books The Law of Success and Think and Grow Rich, he popularized what he called a “master mind alliance.” Based on this concept from the 1920s and 1930s, the modern mastermind group emerged.
Napolean Hill said that a mastermind group is “The coordination of knowledge and effort of two or more people, who work toward a definite purpose, in the spirit of harmony.”
This is a great mastermind group definition. If you are looking to start a mastermind group, keep this mastermind definition in mind. Don’t let a long list of rules from other authors define your mastermind. Instead, focus on bringing together a group to “work toward a definite purpose, in the spirit of harmony,” and work together to make your own mastermind rules.
Mastermind group rules
Every mastermind can have its own rules. The most important part of choosing rules for your mastermind group is to set clear expectations for participation that all members agree to uphold. Mastermind groups often have strict attendance policies that require members stay active.
The first thing you have to decide when starting a mastermind is who can join. Those rules may be very broad, like “people interested in entrepreneurship.” They can also be very specific, like my current mastermind of “online entrepreneur dads.” That limits members based on income goals, gender, and parent status. But every mastermind can have different rules and goals.
I have come across mastermind groups of members around a specific skill set or goal (e.g. freelancing, nomadic families) and specific topics (e.g. finance bloggers, fitness business owners). You may want to put this in your membership requirements.
When setting these requirements, be cognizant of your shared goals, ability to contribute meaningfully, and the vibe you want in your regular mastermind meetings.
I find that the best mastermind groups range from four to eight members. Fewer than four members, the group loses energy and there are not enough opinions. More than eight members and it gets crowded and people start getting lost in the shuffle.
Once someone clears the membership requirements, what do they have to do to stay a member? In many groups, missing two meetings in a row is enough reason for removal. In others, the requirements may be more flexible to account for family, travel, and other schedules.
The rules should be fair, clear, and firm for your mastermind group to benefit all members.
How often and how do you want to meet? Do you want to meet by phone, video conference, email, or chat? What is the recurring schedule for those meetings and calls? These are vital questions when starting out.
The most popular and successful schedule is a weekly video conference meeting using a service like Google Hangouts, Skype, or Zoom. It doesn’t matter how you meet, but frequent meeting schedules are much more helpful than spaced out meetings that take place monthly.
What happens when you dial into your meeting? The best mastermind group agendas include one or more of these itinerary items:
- A rotating “hot seat” focused on one member each meeting
- Going around for updates and questions based on prior calls
- Goal setting
- Accountability and follow up on past meetings
- Deep diving into a specific topic or problem
Again, because each mastermind group is unique, there is no right or wrong answer. What is important is that you establish an agenda that is valuable for your group and stick to it. If you find it isn’t working, you can update it for the future. Whatever you do, don’t go into calls with no plan in a mastermind or elsewhere.
Equality among members
In a mastermind, everyone is equal. It doesn’t matter if one member makes three figures a month online and another makes five. No one is better than anyone else, and everyone has unique ideas and experiences to draw on to contribute.
Of course, some members will have more expertise on one subject or topic than another. That’s okay. Just make sure no one dominates the group. That takes away from everyone else’s experience and harms the overall effectiveness of the group.
Accountability and adherence to rules
When someone does not do their part or follow the rules, it harms the entire group. That is why it is important to hold members accountable for both their commitments and to the group’s rules.
If someone misses too many calls, what happens? Make that clear in the rules so there is no question if someone should remain a member or not, or how they have to respond when they break the rules.
For a short while, one of my groups required anyone who showed up late to donate $5 to a political campaign of a candidate they don’t like. That was big motivation to make our meeting times!
Appoint a group leader
While all members are equal, mastermind groups run best with a clear leader in charge of the logistics. In my current mastermind, our leader Paul handles the administration for our Slack channel, calendar, Google Hangouts meetings, and shared Google Drive documents folder.
Here at Mastermind Hunt, we make this part really easy so the group leader does not have too much to worry about. But however you setup your mastermind, it is a good idea to put something in charge of running things.
Honesty and Confidentiality
Honest and confidentiality are two final considerations. For a mastermind to work, everyone has to be fully open and honest. If you hold back, you won’t get the full benefit and neither will anyone else.
My mastermind group discussions have involved very personal topics including mental health, physical health, and detailed looks into personal and business finances. That only works with the highest levels of trust, honesty, and a blanket rule on confidentiality.
Mastermind group cost
What should it cost to join a mastermind group? There are several opinions on this matter. I strongly believe in free peer mastermind groups, but that is not the only model that works.
Free peer mastermind group – In this type of mastermind, no member pays to join or maintain their membership beyond splitting costs for shared resources.
Paid expert mastermind group – The next type of mastermind group is a paid group where one expert brings the mastermind together, and other members pay a monthly fee for membership. This includes access to the organizer, typically someone who has seen some level of success in their own business that makes their knowledge desirable. This is a common model for group coaching as well.
Paid mega mastermind group – A newer type of mastermind has emerged over the last few years. This large group mastermind acts as a forum and offers access to a well-known leader, often someone with a noteworthy level of success on their own before founding the group. This is not a traditional mastermind, but worth noting as you may come across them when hunting for a mastermind online.
Mastermind group resources
If you want to learn more about mastermind groups or get quick access to tools that make your mastermind group experience better, these mastermind group resources are certain to help.
Mastermind Hunt – Our app to find, join, and create a mastermind. Connect with others looking for a mastermind or run your mastermind with the Mastermind Hunt app and tools.
Google Calendar – Don’t forget when you are meeting! And if you use Gmail like 1 billion+ other people, you already have a Google Calendar account and it’s free.
How to Build a Winning Mastermind Group Webinar from Pat Flynn and Chris Ducker – This video is just over an hour long and well worth watching. We like it so much it is embedded here for quick viewing:
Mastermind group agenda
When it’s time to call in and run your mastermind meeting, you’ll want to follow a mastermind group agenda. There are a few different approaches to how to run a mastermind. Today, we are going to focus on two popular examples.
The hot seat – In this model, the group rotates each week and puts a new person on the “hot seat.” The person on the hot seat has to bring a problem or topic they are dealing with. They present the problem and everyone else works to help them solve it.
Going around – Like sitting in a circle around a table, you will go around the virtual room and each person offers an update each week. When I was in a group that did this, we also all left with a to-do list. The whole group would hold us accountable to follow up.
Sometimes my current mastermind group does a special call. Here are some examples of a one-time or less frequent mastermind group agenda:
Annual goal setting – As the name suggests, an annual or quarterly goal setting meeting can be quite valuable. It gives everyone a chance to discuss their goals and get feedback.
Quarterly income check-in – How is the bottom line? At the end of the day, we are all in business to make money. You may want to hold each other accountable to focus on income in addition to other goal setting.
Friggin in the riggin – A favorite call of mine, my mastermind group does an annual Friggin in the Riggin call. Essentially this call, which we break into two for time, gives everyone a chance to say the number one thing holding every other group member back from success.
Find a mastermind group
Are you ready to find a mastermind group but don’t know where to start? That’s where we come in! Welcome to Mastermind Hunt, where helping you find, organize, and run a mastermind is our primary focus.
Join Mastermind Hunt to get started in your mastermind journey. We are excited to welcome you to the mastermind family. It’s free to get started and find your first mastermind today!