The power of groups

Robert Craven looks at whether a Mastermind Group can help you grow your business

A Mastermind Group meets for 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.

Free DIY groups range from 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 attendees get a speaker in the morning and some form of coaching or boardroom ‘hot seat’ scenario in the afternoon hosted by the facilitator. The real issue is firstly whether the facilitator has relevant experience (e.g. entrepreneurs need entrepreneurs). 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. The guru in question should be an expert in their field (as recognised by others and not by themselves!), have the tools relevant to your particular issues and 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?

Results: in the long run

To check out the long-run effects, I have 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 £1.3m (on average) back at the start of the decade. Some ten years later all are still in business and the average turnover is now £15m. More significantly, profit grew a staggering thirtyfold in the time period.

Quoting statistics is always dangerous but those who wanted fast growth got it (e.g. £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 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.

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?

Results: in the short run

In the short run, attendees often see dramatic results very quickly. This year I have seen one delegate save 51% on a £100k bill (with one simple phone call), one start trading in Australia and the USA, one who has just had his best year in 30 years of trading and one who has sold his business. Dramatic things happen and very quickly.

What works?

I have worked for most of the recognised mastermind franchise/market leaders, business schools and business growth programmes and action-centred learning groups in rious 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 underestimated
  • The success the role of the group leader is in the title: they are not just a facilitator (i.e. 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 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
  • 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.
And the BUT

The Mastermind Group carries a massive Government Health Warning. It is not for everyone.

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”, “learn from the expert”, and “work 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 ‘insider secrets’ and top tips to grow your business. Specifically, powerful contacts, referrals, recommendations and joint ventures are made.

It is not for everyone. But is for the highly motivated who are truly committed to making things happen.

So it’s worth asking, “Do you feel frustrated by your progress?” If so, a Mastermind Group could be for you.

Robert Craven is an entrepreneur and businessman who has run Mastermind Groups and action-centred learning with Warwick Business School, Business Growth Programme and London’s Accelerated Growth Programme among others. He is MD of The Directors’ Centre ( ).



(will not be published)