Owning your own business can sometimes seem like a daunting endeavor. Although a high percentage of people say they would like to own a business, only 10% of the workforce actually has taken on the initiative and risk of entrepreneurship. Whether you decide to have an online or brick and mortar business, it undoubtedly takes courage and vision to make the leap. When you are first starting out it can seem overwhelming because you are juggling responsibilities across many fields such as product or service development, finance, technology, customer service, marketing, communications, and product or service delivery. However, being your own boss also has many rewards and benefits that, with the right support system in place, will significantly outweigh the challenges.
I have to be honest with you, throughout my five years as a business owner, there have been times where I just wanted to give up and felt like I should just go and “get a real job”. There have been times that I’ve felt like I’m on a roller coaster ride of self-confidence one day, and insecurity the next. As an entrepreneur, you’ve probably also noticed that your family and friends who have always had traditional jobs do not understand what you do or why you are so passionate about it. They may even question you and cause you to doubt yourself. Working by yourself can get lonely and sometimes you feel insecure and scared about the future. Even though you have traded a safe and secure job for freedom and independence, you often experience uncertainty and doubt in your skills and your decisions. Take a deep breath right now however, and know that these feelings are a normal and natural part of entrepreneurship. It does get easier as you find your tribe of supportive people.
In the early 1900’s, author Napoleon Hill noted in his research that there was an “x” factor that many successful people had in common. He observed that they met on a regular basis with like-minded individuals. He further noted that when they came together to brainstorm in a common endeavor, it was as if a “third mind” was created from their collective energy that gave them special insight. This type of group was vital to the success of many famous people throughout history such as C.S. Lewis, Henry Ford, J.R.R. Tolkien, Benjamin Franklin, Theodore Roosevelt, and Thomas Edison. In his book, “Think and Grow Rich”, Hill called this phenomenon, “masterminding”.
In working with women entrepreneurs, I’ve discovered just how important masterminding is for sustainability and success. Women are naturally drawn to connection and engagement with others, and when we are embarking out on the entrepreneurial journey, it is especially important to have a strong support system in place such as a mastermind group.
The modern mastermind group has taken on many forms and you can now find groups for writers, inventors, social reformers, entrepreneurs, real estate investors, and even CEO’s. As you consider the many aspects and options, choose based on your personality and your needs. It is important to note that a mastermind is different than a networking group. Even though you will build business relationships and referrals naturally, the purpose of the mastermind group to be in
the collective energy of other forward-thinking entrepreneurs.
Your mastermind group is the place where you will be gaining insights and perspectives to take your business to the next level. Fellow members will become your advisors, your confidantes, and your friends. It is a safe place for you to share your struggles, be encouraged, and get clarity on your mission and vision. Members build trust in each other’s ability to give them objective feedback without judgment. There will be members who have been in business longer than you who can give you guidance and advice based on their experiences. Each meeting will leave you recharged and inspired, knowing that you absolutely can succeed as an entrepreneur. As Napoleon Hill wrote, “Your mastermind group is like having an objective board of directors, a success team, and a peer advisory group, all rolled into one.”
Before joining, first visit the group that you’re interested in. Essential to success is a structure and purpose for each meeting. The group should have a strong leader who will establish and maintain policies and procedures so that the meetings are beneficial for all. There should also be an agenda that includes interesting content and discussion so that the group energy does not stagnate.
Consider these questions after you visit a mastermind group:
*Was there pressure from certain members of the group to buy something from them?
*Would I want to become friends with most of the people?
*Is everyone equally valued when they share about themselves or share their input?
*Did you feel supported and inspired?
*Are some of the members a few steps ahead of you in business?
*Were there members who seemed to be mostly concerned with their own agendas?
*Were people engaging and wanted to get to know you?
*Did there seem to be cliques within the group?
Finding the right group is like finding the perfect dress – you’ll know it when you’re in it! You’ll have the opportunity to interact with many interesting people and stretch yourself in ways you never thought possible. When you have this supportive tribe of like-minded people in your mastermind group, the possibilities can be endless.