Need Some Communal Inspiration? Consider Masterminds or Mentorships.
When you’re just getting started as an entrepreneur it can feel a little overwhelming. There is so much involved in running and operating a successful business and often to start you won’t have the financial resources or backing to hire out the help you need. How do you stay afloat, keep motivated and find the resources you need to grow?
Two great options are mastermind groups and mentorship programs. Both will offer structure, accountability and support to keep you headed in the right direction down your entrepreneurship path. While each serve similar purposes, there are some important differences you’ll want to consider. Read on to discover which is a better fit for your needs right now.
The good: They provide structure and networking for a group of professionals looking to share experience and expertise while also holding you accountable. Mastermind groups can be great because you can form one yourself or join an existing group and control who is in it, what the rules are and how to structure it. Also helpful can be the variety of industry backgrounds at your mastermind’s table to ensure a vast knowledge base is covered through the experiences of each individual member.
The bad: When you’re just starting out it can be challenging to get the right people in your mastermind group. Devote significant time to finding the right individuals who will be accountable for the rules and structure of the group to ensure its long-term success. Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of forming a group with their friends or people they’re comfortable with -- that can be a big problem. You want people who are at or above your level and who will challenge you in the right ways. It can be hard to get individuals with the right level of experience and varying backgrounds to ensure each member is truly enriching the group overall, but it's worth the effort.
The money: In general, mastermind groups are free and will only require the time commitment necessary to run and participate effectively within the group.
The good: Many entrepreneurs might want a mentor for free, or seek one for barter, but consider also the benefits of joining the mentorship program of a business leader you admire. It's a great way to get access to someone's high-level expertise and time. You’ll skyrocket your abilities by leveraging the talent and background of a very successful mentor. You can also benefit from networking with other committed, growing entrepreneurs in the group with a formal mentorship program.
The bad: Some mentorship programs are not well designed and don’t provide the level of one-on-one or peer-networking access you might get in a mastermind group. Make sure you ask a lot of questions ahead of time about the personal access and time you’ll have with the mentor, as well as the cost structure, before you join. You want to ensure it’s a good fit for you and that the level of exposure and access you’re desiring is provided for the cost you’re paying.
The money: The cost for mentorship programs can vary dramatically from a few hundred dollars a month up to tens of thousands of dollars a month depending on the mentor. It's better to start with a program you can afford from a power player in your niche and build from that then to overextend yourself financially right away. Be smart about your mentorship-program investment to match it to your financial circumstances. A stretch might be a risk worth taking but overreaching may drag you back to the financial starting line or put you even further behind.
Consider what your needs are and decide which route is best for you. You can then reap the benefits of these learning environments and further your entrepreneurial aspirations.
Matthew Toren is a serial entrepreneur, mentor, investor and co-founder of YoungEntrepreneur.com. He is co-author, with his brother Adam, of Kidpreneurs and Small Business, BIG Vision: Lessons on How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who Did it Right (Wiley). He's based in Vancouver, B.C.