By Gladys Edmunds

Dear Gladys,

I cannot afford to hire consultants, coaches and advisors as you have suggested in past columns. What’s a guy to do when money is tight and yet help in business development guidance is needed?

H. C.

Dear H.C.,

There is always more than one way to get what can be beneficial to you. I took part in a symposium several years ago for entrepreneurs. It was designed to allow us to interact with each other, exchanging thoughts and ideas to maximize our potential.

We divided into groups of five. Each person gave a 15-minute presentation to the group, five minutes discussing his or her accomplishments of the previous years and five minutes spelling out objectives for the future. The final five minutes were spent talking about the obstacles needed to be overcome to reach those goals. After our presentations, each of the other four entrepreneurs in the group offered feedback, and in some cases, shared contacts to help overcome our roadblocks. At the end of the session, we’d tapped a wealth of knowledge and exchanged a host of new ideas. The unlimited possibilities for business development and growth had been unleashed.

That one-time brainstorming session was a watered down version of what is known as a “mastermind group” session. Similar mastermind gatherings are taking place across the country as entrepreneurs juggle to keep energy in their businesses.

My best guess is that the name and concept started with Napoleon Hill and his book Think and Grow Rich. In his book, he defined mastermind groups as the coordination of knowledge and effort in a spirit of harmony between two or more people for the attainment of a definite purpose.

Mastermind groups have been called by many names – Think Tanks, Dream Teams, Support Groups, Success Groups, etc. What you call it is not as important as the results. You can increase profitability, visibility and develop new business and marketing strategies by organizing and meeting regularly with other minds.

When properly organized, a mastermind group can create the kind of synergy that gives professional and personal support for each member in the group while sharing ideas, information and contacts.

Try these guidelines for turning this concept into reality:

  • Select from the business and professional people you already know. Limit your mastermind to five to seven people. If you find it difficult to find this many folks in the beginning, then start with one or two positive-thinking business people and build from there.
  • Regularity breeds success. Commit to meeting regularly. Decide on the length and where the meeting should take place.
  • Decide on a discussion format. The format that was used in the symposium I attended is a good starting place. Instead of spending five minutes talking about previous years of success, use that time to discuss the goals you met since the last meeting. Appoint someone as the chairperson whose main role is to allow everyone equal time.

Two heads are better than one in most cases. Get the boost you and your business can benefit from and mastermind your way to success.

Gladys Edmunds is a national award-winning entrepreneur, keynote speaker, author and columnist. At age 15, she developed a travel service that prospered for more than 30 years.

The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank.