Ruha Ratnam

The Designist Studio

The Peer Advantage: Starting a Mastermind That Takes Your Business to the Next Level

How to design an effective mastermind group to unlock the benefits of peer support and elevate your business to new heights

My peer mastermind is made up of six solopreneurs who are at not-too-different stages of business, serving overlapping audiences and clients, with shared values, priorities, and sentiments about how we want to impact the world.

They are my business BFFs and have played a huge role in my own personal and business growth. They freely share ideas and experiences and opinions, and are wildly supportive of each other.

These are the people who coach me when I’m stuck in my own limiting beliefs, who celebrate my successes, who cheer me on when I’m being courageous and tackling a scary goal. They’re also the people who let me feel like it’s okay to be human in business.

“I contribute much of my business and personal growth to the Mastermind. While I have an incredible business coach to help me with particular sticking points, it is the Mastermind where I get to bounce ideas and feelings to real people. Yes, feelings! It is truly a safe place to talk about my mistakes, concerns and downfalls. Just as much it is to celebrate my successes, small wins and random moments of serendipity.

How does that translate into my business? All the ‘noise’ in my head gets taken care of a LOT faster when I can jam on it with people I trust. Bullshit comes to the surface real quick, but everyone is so supportive we acknowledge and safely move on. That’s actually really important and powerful. You have your moment to react, and then everyone is there ready to help you with the next step.”

The advantages of joining a peer mastermind group

If you don’t already know this about me, I’m obsessed with the idea of community for small business owners. And peer masterminds are a particularly effective form of community that can turbo-charge your personal development and business growth.

An entrepreneur peer mastermind is a group of like-minded business owners who come together to support and challenge each other to achieve their goals. They meet on a regular basis to share experiences, insights, and challenges.

Joining a peer mastermind can provide a range of benefits, including networking opportunities, access to diverse perspectives and expertise, accountability and motivation, and the opportunity to learn from others’ successes and failures.

I’m fortunate to be in a couple of wonderful masterminds. One of the least explored among business owners, and what I’m talking about here, is what I call a micro-community, a 4-10 person mastermind group of peers who are enthusiastically supportive of each other. (I’m a big fan of having exactly 6 people in the group.)

While larger mastermind groups can offer many benefits, such as a broader range of perspectives and connections, smaller groups have their own advantages. Done right, it can offer a level of intimacy that is crucial to members’ growth.

Some of the advantages of a smaller mastermind group include:

  • Intimacy and Trust: In a small group, members can build deeper relationships and trust with each other, which allows for more open and honest sharing.
  • Accountability: With a small group, it’s easier to hold each other accountable for your goals and commitments, which helps to increase motivation and follow-through.
  • Flexibility: A small group is more nimble and can adapt to the needs and goals of its members more easily than a larger group.
  • Efficiency: With fewer members, a small group can be more efficient with its time and resources, allowing for more focused and productive discussions.

Alison Knott, who’s in my peer mastermind, adds this thought: “Since we all have different areas of focus, goals, hobbies, life experience, you get SO MUCH MORE out of answers than you would say, asking your regular friends or clients. I LOVE when a question is raised, you answer it and someone in the mastermind encourages you to go deeper in your answer. Powerful.”

The beauty of this type of micro-community is that it’s easy to just start your own!

How to Start your own Peer Mastermind Group

Define Your Purpose and Goals

Before you start a mastermind group, you need to define your purpose and goals. What do you hope to achieve through the group, and what are the specific objectives you want to accomplish? This clarity will help you identify the right members and structure the group for success.

Identify Potential Members

Finding the right people for your group can be the most challenging part of starting and maintaining a peer mastermind.

Once you have defined your purpose and goals, look for individuals who share your values, vision, and even work ethic. Seek out people who bring diverse perspectives and experiences to the table.

Sometimes, finding the right people for your group is a matter of timing. Pay attention to the connections you’re making as you build your business. Go for it when you feel excited about the possibility of spending more time talking shop with someone.

You don’t have to rely on existing contacts. Consider reaching out to your network, attending networking events, or using social media to find like-minded individuals.

Set Meeting Frequency and Format

Decide on the meeting frequency and format that works best for your group. Will you meet weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly? Will the meetings be in-person or virtual? Will you have a set agenda or focus on open discussion?

Consider the logistics of scheduling and the preferences of group members.

Have someone in the group who enjoys organizing meetings and communications, but don’t dump everything on them either. Organizing is work, and keeping a community going is hard work. Everyone should be contributing.

If you’re a virtual mastermind, make an effort to meet in person. My group is spread out across North America, and while it’s going to be tricky, it’ll be worth the effort for the opportunity to strengthen bonds and connect in person.

Establish Guidelines and Expectations

To ensure the success of the mastermind group, you need to establish clear guidelines and expectations. These might include confidentiality, respect for each other’s time, and a commitment to attendance and participation.

Be sure to communicate these guidelines clearly to members and revisit them periodically to ensure everyone is on the same page.

Tips to Make the Most of Your Small 6-Person Mastermind Group

Come Prepared

To make the most of your mastermind group, come prepared to each meeting. Bring an update on your progress since the last meeting, any challenges you are facing, and your goals for the upcoming period. This preparation will help you get the most valuable feedback and advice from the group.

Tip: Try starting with an activity that helps the group learn what everyone wants to achieve. A business coach I know was in a mastermind that kicked things off with a personality assessment. They started off as mostly strangers but dove in knowing what each other’s strengths were and where they were in business.

Listen Actively and Be Open to Feedback

Active listening and being open to feedback are critical to the success of a mastermind group. Listen to what the other members have to say, and be receptive to their perspectives and suggestions.

Remember, the group is there to support and challenge you, and constructive feedback is a vital part of that process.

Take Action and Follow Up

After each meeting, take action on the feedback and insights you received. Use the group’s support and accountability to help you make progress towards your goals.

Additionally, follow up with the group to let them know how things are going and any results you’ve achieved. This follow-up helps to reinforce your commitment to your goals and shows the group members that their support is making a difference.

Celebrate Successes

Finally, be sure to celebrate successes within the group. Whether it’s a major milestone, a breakthrough moment, or a small win, sharing your successes with the group reinforces the power of peer support and motivation.

Celebrating together also builds camaraderie and strengthens the bonds within the group.

More thoughts and ideas on peer masterminds from my biz friend, Alison Knott:

  • I had been wary of masterminds before because I didn’t want to be the person with the most knowledge in the room helping everyone else out. I wanted people at the same level as me (or even further along), with different zones of genius and perspective.
  • The small size helps – there are just enough of us that someone is usually online to talk to you*, but not so many that it’s unruly.
    *We meet monthly on Zoom and otherwise communicate via Slack.
  • Taking the time to have 1:1 Zooms with each person is really important, I think. That allows you and the other person to build up personal bonds and get a bit deeper where you can’t in the main space.
  • Even if you have an ‘idea’ of what someone is like, don’t let that stop you from participating in a mastermind. It’s actually really important to have ‘new to you’ people in a space you feel safe in. The need for different perspectives is really important.
  • Having someone like Ruha who has a knack for putting people together is a really rare skill. I’ve run various volunteer and meetup groups over the years and can tell ya how hard it is to get like-minded people in the same room and create something magical.
  • I also suggest you don’t have too many masterminds on the go. I find it hard to keep up with it all, so I prioritize this one.

Joining a small 6-person mastermind group can be a game-changer for your business. By tapping into the power of peer support, you can gain accountability, diverse perspectives, and professional development opportunities that can take your business to the next level.

To start a successful mastermind group, define your purpose and goals, identify potential members, set meeting frequency and format, and establish clear guidelines and expectations.

To make the most of the group, come prepared, listen actively, take action and follow up, and celebrate successes together. With these tips, you can design an effective mastermind group that unlocks the power of peer support and transforms your business!