How and why to start a mastermind group

How and why to start a mastermind group

Written by: Brendan Hufford
May 23, 2018


I keep a photo of myself handy for whenever I’m feeling frustrated with my business. 

This sounds vain, I know, but it’s really nothing special. It’s just me looking off into the distance, with a tiny, knowing smile on my face. What you can’t see in that photo is why I’m so happy. After five long years of trying to create a physical product, I was receiving my first large order at my home in Munster. 

But here’s the thing about photos like these: You never see all of the ups and downs of trying to become a successful, independent maker. The countless 3 a.m. nights (or were they mornings?) full of stress were overwritten by that singular moment, now being able to hold something that I created. 

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I keep a photo of myself handy for whenever I’m feeling frustrated with my business. 

This sounds vain, I know, but it’s really nothing special. It’s just me looking off into the distance, with a tiny, knowing smile on my face. What you can’t see in that photo is why I’m so happy. After five long years of trying to create a physical product, I was receiving my first large order at my home in Munster. 

But here’s the thing about photos like these: You never see all of the ups and downs of trying to become a successful, independent maker. The countless 3 a.m. nights (or were they mornings?) full of stress were overwritten by that singular moment, now being able to hold something that I created. 

GOING IT ALONE

Despite remaining completely independent in my craft and business, the truth is that I never could have done it alone. 

When you’re creating your own product, it’s easy to get lost. You have your sense as a craftsperson, but you can’t help but wonder constantly, “Am I even doing this right? Is anybody going to buy these?” You wonder, day after day, “Am I taking steps in the right order? Or even in the right direction?” 

“Do I sell online or in person? Should I get a booth at the next Fetching Market or open my Etsy shop first? Should I try to get wholesale orders? I can only make one of these a week. How can this become a business?” 

Frankly, it’s overwhelming. What I’ve found in working like this for the last decade is that the loneliness and echo chamber in your own head can be the most haunting. 

Roughly 40 percent of Americans ages 25-34 cite their fear of failure as holding them back from starting a business. Even if you manage to get started, like I did, within the first five years more than half of businesses shut their doors forever. 

THE GROUP FACTOR 

When things were at their lowest point for me, I sought out an entrepreneur that I looked up to, but who I knew was too busy to become my mentor.

Photo Credit: Brad M. Wolf
Photo Credit: Brad M. Wolf

GOING IT ALONE

Despite remaining completely independent in my craft and business, the truth is that I never could have done it alone. 

When you’re creating your own product, it’s easy to get lost. You have your sense as a craftsperson, but you can’t help but wonder constantly, “Am I even doing this right? Is anybody going to buy these?” You wonder, day after day, “Am I taking steps in the right order? Or even in the right direction?” 

“Do I sell online or in person? Should I get a booth at the next Fetching Market or open my Etsy shop first? Should I try to get wholesale orders? I can only make one of these a week. How can this become a business?” 

Frankly, it’s overwhelming. What I’ve found in working like this for the last decade is that the loneliness and echo chamber in your own head can be the most haunting. 

Roughly 40 percent of Americans ages 25-34 cite their fear of failure as holding them back from starting a business. Even if you manage to get started, like I did, within the first five years more than half of businesses shut their doors forever. 

THE GROUP FACTOR 

When things were at their lowest point for me, I sought out an entrepreneur that I looked up to, but who I knew was too busy to become my mentor.

Anybody worth being your mentor is probably extremely busy as well. This individual mentioned forming a “mastermind group” and as I researched the idea, it became the solution to most of my biggest struggles. 

With a mentor, you ask questions and get feedback, developing a relationship of consistent follow-up. A mastermind functions in much the same way, but with a group of peers. 

A mastermind group, according to Schererville resident Ken Wallace, founder of mastermindjam.com, is “simply a small group of people who meet on a regular basis to help each other accomplish goals.” 

A mastermind is a group of people that formalize the mentor-mentee relationship. It can be online or in person, so long as you speak your goals aloud and receive feedback and accountability from people who understand the nature of what you’re going through and what’s at stake. 

PICK YOUR PEERS 

Like me, you can start by finding three to six other people who are at a similar place in their business journey. They need not have the same kind of business, either. When you’re unsure about hiring a new barista at your coffee shop, your peers don’t have to own a coffee shop to help you. If they know the stress of hiring an employee and empathetically understand that you’re not only saying yes to the employee but also to his or her family who relies on you for wages and insurance, they can help you. 

So long as they commit to helping you grow (and you commit to them as well), you will find your mastermind group quickly becoming your secret weapon. 

I credit my mastermind group with so much of my results, thanks to their accountability, advice, encouragement and feedback. Sure, I had to do the work. But every week, I had a group of trusted peers to lean on when I needed them. 

I’d love to see more mastermind groups in the region to help skyrocket the already blossoming community of independent makers and entrepreneurs developing here. Are you ready to take the next step and recruit a close-knit group of entrepreneurs that can help you level-up your business? Quickly, think of two friends you can call or text today and set up a time to meet. 

Like you, I feel strongly about our community and our shared future. Your future is my future is our future. As you find success, so do we all. 

Brendan Hufford is a marketing and business veteran from Munster who is passionate about helping local businesses get more business and revenue from their website through SEO. In 2016, he founded PhotoMBA, where he teaches photographers how to charge more, land better clients, and bridge the gap between their current reality and photography business goals. Learn more about him at PhotoMBA.net and BrendanHufford.com.