Being an entrepreneur can be a very rewarding and also a lonely experience. Many of us start out as a single in the sense that we have a product, service, or idea, but no business partner to join us on our entrepreneurial journey. That works well for many, but for others they find that they could use another “set of eyes” or sounding board for their ideas or challenges.
One solution is a business coach. There are various organizations, such as SCORE, previously known as the Service Corps of Retired Executives, that offer mentoring for free or for nominal fees, along with workshops and other great services. Free is one of my favorite four letter words! Many also offer business related classes such as how to write a business plan, set up an LLC, etc.
Then there’s the universe of other business coaches. I say universe because it seems like there are billions of them out there. Just chuck a rock (a small one please so as not to hurt anybody) and you’ll probably hit a few coaches as if you were skipping stones on a pond. I think the idea of a business coach is great but how do you find a good one or the right one for you? And if you invest a substantial amount of money on your coach, are you getting your money’s worth?
Or how about another alternative – a mastermind group? A mastermind group is designed to give you support, feedback, accountability, along with many other benefits, as you work through the challenges that arise, and challenges always seem to arise, through your entrepreneurial journey.
Not all mastermind groups are for entrepreneurs. They could form around parenting, or associated with a particular disease, or as a network of people who don’t have a natural or organic support system. Or think about an introvert that you know who doesn’t do well in large groups but could benefit from a smaller group made up of other introverts.
There are some mastermind groups that have been going strong for decades. Probably longer than some successful marriages. Many mastermind groups have a fee associated with them to pay for a facilitator, a meeting facility (physical or online), and other costs associated with the group. Many are free.
So why would someone want to join a mastermind group instead of hiring a business coach? A group of like-minded or business related people.
The group would be made up of others in your niche. There are groups for accountants/bookkeepers, real estate agents, farriers (people who put shoes on horses), moms. There’s strength in numbers when you’re interacting with others in your niche. Many of them have been there, done that. And their experiences will help you as your experiences will help them. You’ll also get that nice warm fuzzy feeling that you’re no longer alone; you belong to a community.
A mastermind group is a collaborative entity. You’ll find members who may be a good fit for a project you’re working on and you choose to create an additional accountability partnership with that person or persons. Maybe your group is a virtual group, but another member is local to where you live so you can meet face to face outside of the regular meetings.
There are wonderful opportunities for learning in a mastermind group. There will always be people you meet that will know at least one more thing than you do and another who you will know at least one more thing than them. In that way, we’re all experts to someone. There’s a lot of satisfaction in helping and mentoring another.
You might know someone currently in a mastermind group. You might have even asked them about their experiences and if they’d recommend being a member of a group. You might even ask to become a member of their group. Or if you’re really ambitious, you start your own. Whichever way you look at a mastermind group, and they’re not for everyone, the experience may be one of the most rewarding in your business life. If you find that a mastermind group is not for you, grab a stone, albeit a little one, and find yourself a coach.