Many small businesses owners feel somewhat isolated when it comes to getting feedback on their ideas.
It may seem as though it’s hard to share your thoughts, goals and feelings of downright incompetence with a staff that you believe looks to you for all the answers. (You may be selling yourself short with this view, but that’s another post.)
Sometimes it can feel like you feed the beast, you feed the customers, you feed the staff, but who feeds you? Without a constant diet of healthy ideas and peer interaction it’s very easy to find your focus on innovation and expanded opportunities can diminish.
Some people find that they can meet this need on a steady diet of seminars and conferences, and while I think those are a great way to supplement your knowledge, nothing is a powerful as a planned, facilitated and formally structured mastermind kind of group. (And if you can stand one last food metaphor – It’s akin to pigging out at the Whole Foods buffet.)
The idea behind a mastermind group is a set of individuals, typically peers by some measure, come together at regular intervals to get away from the day to day and share big audacious ideas, develop goals and pledge accountability.
The concept is not new and while it is a very powerful one, it’s been a bit tainted by the Internet marketers and coaches that have jumped into the business of putting these together for profit. I’m not suggesting this isn’t something you would pay to be a part of. I belong to a group that I’m honored to get to hang out with and I pay for the privilege, but you must think strategically about how you might employ this concept to make sure you get the most out of it.
Groups like Vistage and Strategic Coach have proven models for putting together and running mastermind groups and might be a great place for you to start your search. I know a lot of people that have gone through Strategic Coach and they all rave about it.
You might also find that you can put your own peer group together, but understand that this can be a lot of work so joining a group with a track record of value might make more sense initially.
I think this can apply to many things, but the group I belong to shares ideas sometimes that are so far beyond my current view that sometimes I have to just let them soak in without judgement before I can figure out how the idea might apply to my world.
There is something really beautiful about a group that has shared motivations and beliefs, but very diverse businesses and business models.
Clarity and focus
I get a lot of really great new ideas from participating in this kind of process, but the biggest gift is much greater clarity and focus on the things I’m already doing.
It’s just tough to stop and take the lid off things when you’re at full speed and in it. Stepping out of it and into a bit of laboratory type setting allows me to see some pretty obvious flaws and innovations.
As business owners we often hold our vendors, staff and even customers accountable for the work and deliverables they commit to, but who holds us accountable?
Sure, we’re really good at coming up with ideas, creating action plans and knocking down to do lists, but who is asking us really tough questions like – where are you now, where do you want to be, what’s in the way, what are you going to have to change in order to get where you need to go.
Short answer no one – or worse, a spouse that equally frustrated with your lack of vision beyond the next day’s horizon.
Sometimes the greatest motivating factor in the achievement of any goal is knowing that there’s someone else out there that knows you committed to achieving it.
Offer your own
As a bit of a bonus idea for today’s post I think one of the greatest ways you could add value to your existing client relationships would be to start this kind of a group for your clients.
If you have a great experience as a member of a mastermind group and can pattern your own group after this experience think of how deep your relationships with you clients could become if you brought this tool to them.
In the race to grow our own businesses we must come to understand that while there may be a finish line it will keep moving out of sight just as we glimpse it. Our job is to increase our capabilities in order to push that finish line further out with greater opportunity.