There is nothing in the world that compares to a great mastermind session. You walk in the door tired and weary from the day to day toll of running your business. You have more problems than solutions and you feel like you are the only one in the world struggling to make it all work.
Then your business tribe arrives.
You spend a few minutes exchanging pleasantries. How are the kids? How was your trip to Europe last summer? And then you get down into the nitty gritty. You talk about the challenges that you are having in your business and personal life. You offer up advice to others in areas that you have expertise, and you focus on the future. You discuss ways that you can scale your business and improve your life.
You walk out rejuvenated and ready to take on the world.
The Goldilocks effect
The right business tribe can be transformative. They can help you go from a struggling owner-reliant business to an owner-independent company is less than 36 months. But be careful when choosing your tribe. Character is contagious, be careful whose character you catch.
Less successful: If you choose a group of owners that are less successful than yourself, you will find yourself spending all your time playing the role of the mentor. While initially, it will be a boost to your self confidence there is little value in such a group for you and the growth of your business. I've seen this most impact members of industry associations where you have outgrown the other association members. You'll spend too much of your time working to lift others up, without peers to challenge you to greater heights.
A group of your equals: For many, this seems like the most logical fit. Choosing a group of business owners who are struggling with the same issues that you are will help tremendously with your feelings of isolation. If you are like many of our business coaching clients however, you will quickly outgrow this peer group as your business scales. You need to ask one more question of this group: are its members as committed to growth, both individually and business growth, as you are? If not, this group of peers will soon devolve to a group you have to push, lift, and carry.
More successful: When it comes to finding the perfect business tribe, you want to be in a group of people that are a few steps ahead in the process. Not only will you gain invaluable first-hand knowledge from owners that have already walked your path but as the peer group excels, so will you.
At Maui Mastermind, we've watched thousands of business owners find their perfect tribe. And we have encouraged many of our business coaching clients to proactively take the steps to find or form their own business groups.
If you are struggling to find the perfect fit, don't be afraid to reach out to business owners that you admire. Invite them for coffee and tell them how much you value the work that they do. Ask them about their own business mentors and peers. Ask them what made the difference in their climb to the top? Was there a group, association, or board of directors they turned to and perhaps even still turn to for advice? Where do they go when they are in need new ideas?
Finally, briefly explain what you are doing and ask them what ideas or action steps would they take if they were you.
Take clear and copious notes. Then follow up with a thank you card (yes a physical card, not just an email) laying out the ideas you took away from your conversation.
The key here is to show that you have the humility to learn and the heart to take action. Over the years I've had thousands of business leaders ask me for ideas, but the overwhelming majority never take action.
When you get great ideas from your more advanced peers, use their ideas (at least the ones you like) and then be sure to circle back and tell them the action you took and the outcome. By closing the mentoring loop you'll be able to cultivate mentors who take a real interest in seeing you succeed. Now you've set the stage to go back to these people and ask for more ideas and mentorship.
Outgrowing your tribe
As your business grows, there will come a time where you outgrow your tribe. You will find yourself falling in to the mentor role more often than not and realize that it is time to part ways giving your spot to someone else. Congratulations! That means that you are doing it right. Take what you learned and seek out a new tribe and continue growing.
Finding the right business tribe is the secret to success for so many. When faced with a tough business decision that has serious consequences, getting structured, outside input to help clarify the current situation, your desired outcome, and your potential options is invaluable. This is when you lean on your peers and advisors to help you think through your situation and the best choices. It's too easy to get locked into a stunted perspective. Besides, building any business in isolation is expensive, painful, and inefficient.
So, go out and find your tribe.