By Robert Craven, MD of The Directors' Centre
Will a 'Mastermind' group accelerate business growth? Or blow up in your face?
‘Mastermind Group’ is a phrase that is being bandied around so loosely that it seems to be losing all sense of its original meaning.
What is a Mastermind Group?
The phrase alludes to some kind of group, an alliance of some form, which meets for a specific purpose, the benefit of its members. It usually focuses on sharing or exchanging business knowledge, experience and ideas with a view to improving business performance. It uses the power of partnerships to create massive productivity gains and prosperity for its members.
You can go to free DIY groups all the way through to the corporate/franchised models through to exclusive guru versions. At its simplest, you get what you pay for.
There are no shortage of players in the ‘corporate’ and franchised models where you get a speaker in the morning and some form of coaching or board room ‘hot seat’ scenario in the afternoon hosted by your resident facilitator. The real issue is firstly whether the facilitator has relevant experience (eg entrepreneurs need entrepreneurs) and has been there and done it in a relevant way. Secondly, can they do more than just facilitate? Will they get you to go and do the things you need to do?
This is where the exclusive guru model can come into its own. Let’s leave aside the debate about the finer definition of what is and what is not a ‘guru’. The guru in question should be an expert in their field (as recognised by others and not by themselves!), have the tools that are relevant to your particular issues and have the technical skills and competence to share, communicate and motivate you to achieve. A large part of this is to do with the personal chemistry between you and the guru. Do they ‘get’ what you are trying to do?; do you believe that they can really help you? This is a rare mix.
Results: in the long run
To check out the long-run effects, I have just traced a series of mastermind clients from some ten years ago. It makes fascinating reading.
Taking one particular group, the 10 businesses were turning over just under £1.3 million (on average) back at the start of the decade. Some ten years later all are still in business (in some form) and the average turnover is now £15 million. More significantly, profit grew a staggering thirtyfold in the time period.
Quoting statistics is always a dangerous thing but those who wanted fast growth got it (eg £30m in four years) and those who wanted a new lifestyle choice got it (selling their shares for in excess of £20m).
On average, the long-term performance of these businesses has more than outperformed the market. However, the stats do not tell the whole story. In the interests of honesty we are not doing what the scientists call a fair test. In reality, the businesses may have blossomed with or without the programme. Maybe the programme just attracts high-performers. We need to be a little careful when bandying around these statistics.
Anyhow, what we can say is that those who choose to attend such programmes achieve above-average performance. Do you want to be part of that crowd? Are you an above-average performer?
Results: in the short run
In the short run, attendees often see dramatic results very quickly. This year I have seen a delegate save 51% on a £100k bill (with one simple phone call), one found himself on TV and radio, one is now trading in Australia and the USA, one has just had his best year in thirty years of trading and one has sold his business. Dramatic things happen and very quickly.
I have worked for most of the recognised mastermind franchise/market leaders, business schools and business growth programmes and action-centred learning groups in various capacities. I have also run my own Mastermind Groups. What I have observed is the following:-
- The dynamics of the group, the peer-to-peer support is almost always under-estimated
- The success the role of the group leader is in the title: they are not just a facilitator (ie helping delegates ) but they should be a leader (inspiring action)
- The focus on action and delivering results is crucial; this is not a talking shop
- Results and progress needs to be measurable — delegates need ways to measure their progress and development
- Delegate commitment is vital — often a larger financial obligation heightens the sense and the passion and determination to make the project a success
- The selection of delegates requires careful consideration
— this is not a place for the faint-hearted; the last thing you want in the room is energy-sapping negative people: they are toxic
- The role of honesty and politeness: most people want and need frank and honest feedback. This is not the same as bullying and it is not the same as being nice and polite
- Entrepreneurs need to be accountable: it is the role of the leader and the rest of the group to hold the individual’s feet to the fire — the delegate must become accountable to the group for delivering on promises and commitments.
It is this last piece, being accountable, that creates the power of the Mastermind Group to get people to deliver stunning results. Now you can see a formula for excellent performance emerging:
The right group of individuals
+ The right leader with the right knowledge/skills/attitude
+ An action orientation
+ Honesty, not politeness
+ Respect and the right chemistry
+ Accountability to deliver
= Massive results for all the individuals concerned
And the BUT...
The Mastermind Group carries a massive Government Health Warning. It is not for everyone. In fact, it is right for very few people (despite what scurrilous marketing blurbs might tell you). It is not a universal antidote.
Typically, people join such groups because they want to “achieve their goals faster”, “be part of a club that understands them”, where they can “share their dreams and their fears”, where they can “learn from the expert”, where they are “working with other people facing similar challenges”. Every person’s reason for signing up is different.
Emotionally, the group provides tough love, safety, security and confidence from a solid, inspiring sounding board. Functionally it fast-tracks results by working with people who have ‘been-there-and-done-it’, by using unique ‘insider secrets’ and top tips to grow your business. Specifically, powerful contacts, referrals, recommendations and joint ventures are made. Do not under-estimate the power of the intense personal relationships that develop from the honest discussions that take place as the each member of the group grapples to find their own elusive magic success formula.
It is not for everyone. But is for the highly motivated who are truly committed to making things happen.
Before the article descends into some kind of self-help manifesto it is worth asking, “Do you feel frustrated by your progress?” If so, a Mastermind Group could be for you.
You can see more about Mastermind groups at www.robert-craven.com
To find out more about how Robert Craven and The Directors’ Centre grow their clients’ sales and profits contact us at www.directorscentre.com 01225 851044.