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Mastermind groups and how they can help

Socks-Up Simon explains how you can ‘mastermind’ your way to success

By now, for most people, New Year’s resolutions (and changing the world!) are a distant memory set in a time of hope and glory over the Christmas period! The dreams were nice while they lasted, but cold reality has snuffed them out for another year.

But it doesn’t have to be that way…

For over 12 years I have been involved with ‘mastermind’ groups, sometimes as a member, sometimes as the organiser. I have paid to be in some of them and most have been non-accountancy-based.

Whatever my role, I have found them to be inspiring, challenging and supporting in very many ways. And whatever type of group they have been, they have all helped me keep on track with what I wanted to achieve.

Here’s how they work

First, you need to decide whether you want to be a part of an industry-specific group or a group of a more general nature. Both serve a different purpose and have their advantages and disadvantages. Which type you choose depends on what you want to achieve.

For the purposes of this article I’ll assume you want to focus on an industry-specific mastermind group. I have found that – provided you get the right mix of members – development is much quicker in these groups, because there is already a shared empathy. You are all on the same track; you understand the nature of each other’s businesses and you all face similar business issues.

You now need to either find yourself a group (I’ll happily speak to you about how my groups work) or else set up your own. Setting up one of your own obviously takes more effort, but it also gives you the freedom to tailor the agenda to suit your own requirements.

Next, you need to decide how regularly you’ll meet. For me, that means at least every couple of months, but I know of groups that only meet twice a year. How often is an important issue. The regularity sets a rhythm for the group, and the rhythm needs to aid accountability. It should ideally be the length of time most actions will take to complete. That sets a natural order and timescale to the progress people will make.

Once you have joined or founded your mastermind group and know how often you will meet, you need to set an agenda. Again, this helps establish a rhythm, it sets a pattern to the day and helps people know both what to expect and also what is expected of them.

This is the agenda I have been using for a number of years and it works beautifully with all the groups I’ve been a part of, in whatever capacity that might have been. We open the day by looking at actions set at the last meeting and discover whether they have been completed or not. This is the accountability and celebratory section. There might also be an element of “checking in” and stating where you currently are in your business and, if appropriate, your personal circumstances.

Next, we’ll share any ideas, concepts or life hacks we have learnt since the last time we were together. This is where the industry-specific group gains its advantage, as most things shared will be easily relatable to your business.

After a quick break, we’ll then move on to some content. I argue that this content should come from a professional from outside the group. The content does not have to be industry-specific, but it can be if you wish. There should always be an element in it that means you can leverage it with your customers.

This process can easily take half a day and, depending on how much you do, could even be a whole day in itself. However, in the groups I belong to we cover this in the morning, and spend the afternoons analysing members’ problems. There is a specific way we do this to make sure we don’t come up with the same old tired solutions that so often have not worked in the past. Very often, the problem as presented is not the problem we end up working on! This is a valuable process and something I’ll share in a future article.

The last part of the day is the most important, as far as I am concerned.

That’s action setting

All the material that has been shared during the day gets reviewed and at least three actions get set for each person. It is up to you whether these get recorded centrally but, in my experience, if they are, the return on investment for the group increases exponentially. Those actions should also be shared. This makes sure that the day isn’t just a good experience, but is a catalyst for action and change. And that’s the point of a mastermind group; it helps you to grow and develop, to learn from peers and experts, and to put that learning into practice, so you avoid the trap of stagnation.

If you are interested in joining a group that has already been set up I’d be delighted to speak to you to see if there is a fit with one of my groups. I’d also be more than happy to share more about how to set up your own group, if that’s the way you’d like to go. Just email me on simon@socksupsimon.com and we’ll set up a call.

  • Simon Chaplin, AKA Socks Up Simon, is the author of ‘My 21 Tip Top Pieces of Savvy Software to Help Accountants Save Time, Money and Face!’ and you can get your copy at www.socksupsimon.com/AP1.

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