Mastermind groups 101: What they are, how to run one, and whether or not you should you join one

Chances are good that you’ve been hearing about or wondering about mastermind groups but aren’t quite sure if they’re for you. It’s also entirely possible that you have no idea of what a Mastermind group is. Well don’t worry – we’ve got you covered!

We asked Business Efficiency Consultant Yvonne Heimann – creator of The Bulletproof Business Planner – for tips on everything from defining and creating a mastermind group to successfully running one.

What’s a Mastermind group anyway?

“The focus and goal of a mastermind is to use the combined brainpower and experience of the group members to elevate, educate and help everyone,” said Heimann. And unlike networking, it’s more of a collective experience.

With peer mentoring

Heimann said to “think of a mastermind as a group of mentors that fill in for each other’s shortcomings, things we haven’t learned or experienced yet, allowing each member to brainstorm, get educated, being held accountable and challenged.”

With a twis0, “mastermind members are student and mentor at the same time and need to be willing to give just as much as they take.”

Choosing members

Heimann believes there should be a vigorous process to deciding who’s in your group and who doesn’t make the cut “Mastermind applicants should go through a vetting process, just like employees,” she said.

Create a mission statement

Heimann said every mastermind should also have a mission and vision statement, outlining the focus and goals of the group. “It should also be determined what type of mastermind it is: topic based (building online courses, marketing yourself), mission-based (run a 5k in 5 months), or is it a business mastermind (product-based businesses, online businesses).”

Measuring success

Unlike traditional groups “The success of a mastermind is straight up connected to its members” Heimann said. “Matching up members in regard to their level of expertise, revenue, and goals is therefore vital.

So, deciding on the group focus will also help determine the success of each member “If the focus of the group is advancing a skill, having members of the same job/business can be of great advantage” Heimann said. On the other hand, “A business builder mastermind most likely will have more success including members that are alike but not the same, those who can complement each other rather than competing for the same market.”

Size matters

Mastermind groups tend to run on the small side, with 3-5 serious members most common. Heimann said “Not enough members and the group will lack diversity, too many, and voices won’t be heard.

One pro tip from Heimann “When starting a mastermind, start it with beta test round of six months. That allows everyone to test it, potentially adjust the goal and gives everyone an easy excuse to leave if things don’t work out.” And be sure everyone is serious. “Having a commitment sheet for each meeting as well as a penalty for no-shows will allow less committed members to move on.”

You might also consider charging or setting up some sort of structure fee. Heimann said, “Humans tend to value and commit more to things they have to pay for, so a monthly mastermind fee might be of advantage and is the standard.”

The structure

Masterminds have two common structures, the “hot seat” or “equal time” approach.

Heimann explains “In a hot seat mastermind, all the time goes to one member each meeting. This structure allows for a deep dive and plenty of time for all other members to respond and advise. This kind of layout is great for weekly masterminds.” If you plan on meeting less frequently, the equal time approach might be a better fit Heimann said: “Splitting up the meeting time in equal parts for all members will allow everyone to take advantage without having to wait months on end for their turn.”

Prep sheets are a thing

Creating prep-sheets keeps everyone and the meeting on track. Heimann says to create some with questions and room for milestones including …

What to share for your short update:

  • What were the results of my business goals last month
  • What were the results of my personal goals last month (if any)
  • Other news/updates?

Current projects and priorities:

  • What could I really use support on right now?
  • What help looks like to me:
  • What’s my expectation for today’s meeting? Am I looking for support or am I just giving?
  • What have I learned recently that could be beneficial to one or all my team members?