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Seven Strategies for Creating a Successful Mastermind Group

Copyright 2009 OnlineBizU.com

Mastermind groups are nothing new. In fact, Napoleon Hill writes about them in his classic, "Think and Grow Rich", in which he defines "Master Mind" as the "coordination of knowledge and effort, in a spirit of harmony, between two or more people for the attainment of a definite purpose." He further adds, "No two minds ever come together without thereby creating a third, invisible intangible force, which may be likened to a third mind." He believed that a group of like-minded, achievement-oriented people could dramatically leverage each other's success.

I recently joined forces with a business colleague and we have begun our own mastermind group for solo entrepreneurs who want to build their businesses online. We're a diverse group -- we have a business coach (me), a website designer, a college entertainment provider (wax hands, 3-D photo collages, build-a-bear, party inflatables), a wrought-iron fence installer, and a voiceover/website narration specialist.

As we're starting to determine who we are and what we do and how we operate, here are the steps we're using to figure out our direction in the establishment of this group:

1. Ensure all participants have similar interests. In our case, we've only invited others who are self-employed and either currently have their business online or want to create a viable online business. I like the diversity of industries in our group, and think the fact that we don't know a great deal about each other's industries will enable us to bring great new perspectives to the table, as we'll force each other to "think outside the box", since we won't be constrained by preconceived notions of what will or won't work in each industry. You may want to have all members from the same industry but who serve different segments of the same industry, like insurance agents, or bring people together who have some other common interests, like a hobby.

2. Screen your applicants. My colleague and I simply brainstormed about people that we knew who all happen to share similar values: -- the desire and passion to create extraordinary businesses -- love to help others create success and are supportive -- have integrity and are trustworthy -- respond well to feedback -- seek win-win agreements and solutions -- commitment to attending the meetings -- want to get to know each other on a personal, as well as professional, level If you open membership to the general public to increase your numbers, you will want to determine some key core characteristics that you're seeking in new members and ask the appropriate questions to ascertain if the applicants possess these characteristics.

3. Limit your number of participants. I think the ideal group size is 4-6. We currently have 5 members, and may decide to include a sixth at some point. A smaller number of members will ensure that all get to be heard in the group and that all get to participate.

4. Establish guidelines for how the group operates. You'll need to determine the date, time, length, and location for the meeting. You may have someone to volunteer to host the meeting each month, rotate hosts, or meet in a restaurant or coffee shop. Your group will also want to discuss some "rules of the road", like issues of confidentiality, respect, how or if you share info about colleagues or other businesses, etc. Keep the rules short, simple, and clear to maximize the effectiveness of your group.

5. Set a general agenda for the group meetings. You may want to pick a topic or focus for each meeting, from discussing tax strategies to valuable resources you use to evaluating each other's marketing materials. We're trying out two things--sharing a recent success or breakthrough (either business or personal) and sharing a resource that the others might find valuable. I'm going to suggest adding a time where each of us gets a limited amount of time to share a problem or issue with which we need help. Our proposed meeting agenda is noted below:

-- Welcome -- Share a recent success or breakthrough (personal or professional) -- What do you need help with? -- Tonight's topic: -- Share a resource -- Next meeting topic -- Adjourn

6. Establish group leadership guidelines. There should be some consensus as to whether or not the group will have a facilitator or leader, and what role that person will play. I think groups have a better survival rate if there is a facilitator in charge to move the meeting along. Your group needs to decide if that role will be permanent for a defined length of time, or will rotate among group members from meeting to meeting.

7. If at first it doesn't work, try something different! Your first stab at establishing how your group operates may not work. If some aspect of the group isn't working, be flexible enough to try something different until you find the right combination of factors that works well for your group.

I love the energy present at our mastermind group meetings, and can't wait to see the results at the end of the year from the synergistic power of the group. If you feel like that you're isolated and that no one understands the problems of your business, create your own mastermind group using the guidelines above. It may be the best step you take for your business this year!

Online Business Coach Donna Gunter helps self-employed professionals make more profit in less time online. To sign up for more FREE tips like these and claim your FREE ebook, TurboCharge Your Productivity: 50 + Tools To Help You Automate Your Business and Make More Profit in Less Time Online!, visit her site at http://www.OnlineBizCoachingCompany.com .

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Have a nice day!

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