There’s one thing that will most certainly cause you to fail as a business owner or entrepreneur.  And that’s trying to do it alone.

Without a peer group, a mentor, or just some like-minded individuals to bounce ideas off of, get support from, or just to talk to on lonely days, you will burn out.  I see it over and over again.

One of the best ways to go about making this work is to start or join a mastermind group.  The term “mastermind” was made popular by Napoleon Hill in Think & Grow Rich.  It typically consists of anywhere from 4-10 individuals who have at least some overlap in their business endeavors who meet on a regular basis for the purposes of, well…doing everything I just talked about.

I have been a part of several masterminds.  The one of which I’m currently a part is focused on online marketing, and consists of people with varying skills and experience.  Some people are great at social media.  Some are traffic experts.  Some know how to put together membership sites.  And so forth.

We get together once a month to talk about what we’re up to, how each industry is doing, and to help each other out.  Everyone gets about 10 minutes to talk (and yes, they are timed), and if they need more time, we try to give it to them when possible.

The real challenge to starting a mastermind is not finding people who are interested and qualified…it’s keeping them committed.  So, here are 5 options to keep your mastermind participants coming back:

  1. Make it paid.  Participants have to contribute $X/meeting, month, or year to be a part.  When you have to pay for something, it tends to keep your attention a little better.
  2. Keep it moving. Break out your phone’s stopwatch app, and crank up the volume.  Everyone gets 10 (or whatever) minutes, and once that’s over, don’t be afraid to cut someone off and move on.
  3. Keep it constructive. There’s nothing worse than listening to someone drone on for an hour about how they can’t make anything work, how no one understands them, etc.  Encourage participants to ask for constructive help — how they can achieve a specific objective.  The “victim mentality” isn’t allowed here.
  4. Raise a glass.  Consider getting out of the conference room and into the bar room.  Happy hour masterminds can be very successful…as long as everybody only has one or two.  If Bob is on his 8th tequila shot by the hour mark, you’re now hosting an unsuccessful AA meeting and you might want to reconsider the format.
  5. Take and post notes.  Have some online forum where you can post the highlights of the session for everyone to review.  This could consist of a private Facebook group, a Google group, or you could even record the whole thing and make it a private link on a YouTube channel.
  6. (BONUS): Go digital.  It’s not unheard of to have masterminds completely over the phone, Skype, or Google Hangouts.  However, I personally like the feel of being in the same room as other members…there’s something more personal and real to it.

Lastly, it helps when you’re able to schedule a mastermind group to meet at a regular date and time (every 2nd Tuesday at 2 pm), because then people can plant it in their heads and are more likely to show up.

A mastermind group is a great way to stay connected and get the feedback and interaction you desperately need as a solopreneur.  Can you think of anyone who might be a good fit for yours?