We are so excited to welcome our newest Dear Handmade Life contributor Rebecca Pitts the founder and owner of Hudson + Daughter. Her first topic, taking your business to the next level with a mastermind group is right up our alley since we got a preview of how awesome a mastermind could be on a recent trip to Portland which we’ll talk about on our podcast next week with our guest, friend and mastermind guru Kari Chapin. Stay tuned for more creative business and DIY tutorial posts from Rebecca. Welcome to the DHL family Rebecca!
Now onto Rebecca…
Being a solo-preneur, a creative entrepreneur, an owner of your online crafting business, or some version of one of these is a pretty amazing gig. There are SO many reasons that creative entrepreneurs (like me) are attracted to this type of work and why we are successful at it. We are good at the big picture as well as the details. We are self-motivated to manage our day and our own schedule. We thrive as creatives, spending hours or days holed up in the design process.
But the challenges are as particular to this type of work as our joys are. Often it’s just us in the studio, crafting away. Or, we are working solo at home responding to emails or keeping our social media pages up to date. Sometimes we even feel alone when we’re talking with well-meaning spouses, peers, or friends who work in a more traditional 9-5 job and just can’t relate to our particular experiences.
While solo work is necessary and even preferred for many of us, sometimes we just need to work things out with someone who gets it.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve purposefully cultivated friendships to cull away the ‘Negative Nancies’ in favor of friends who always have my back, who can cheer on the successes, and are good at putting the misses into perspective. It’s so key to have people in your life like this and to see them regularly for coffee or a drink.
But lately I’ve been thinking about stepping it up by formalizing these discussions and including more people in these get-togethers by forming a mastermind group. And like anything I’m curious about, I have to research the heck out of it before I get started. I’d love to share what I’ve learned with you here, and I’m hoping you’ll join me in a challenge (they’ll be more info at the end).
What is a mastermind?
A mastermind is a group of people that share similar professional and personal missions or goals. They meet on a regular basis to share knowledge, talk through ideas, work through problems, offer alternative insights, and perhaps most importantly: hold one another accountable.
What does a mastermind discuss?
There’s no one right way to run your mastermind. Set the agenda that works best for your particular group. Many groups have a loose agenda that may look something like this:
• Group members share updates, news, and recent victories (15 minutes)
• Discussion of current challenges or issues (15 minutes)
• A chunk of time where the group can dive deep and look at a particular issue one member is facing or an educational component with an outside speaker or expert in the group (1 hour)
Who should join a mastermind?
Remember that saying: “Don’t be the smartest one in the room”? This adage holds true here, too. You want a good mix of people in your group.
• I’m not really talking about IQs but rather a mix of skill sets. If you’re creating a group from scratch, perhaps you’ll look for people who fit under the umbrella of ‘creative professionals’. This could include designers, writers, painters, children’s book authors, and toy makers, for example. A designer who is struggling with finalizing website copy might swap services with a writer who needs some Photoshop help.
• Include people who are in different places and seasons in their career or life. The perspectives will be varied and your discussions will be richer for it.
• Include your competition. You never know—you may even collaborate on a joint venture that benefits both of you.
How often (and where) should a mastermind meet?
Set a frequency that you can commit too without feeling overwhelmed. Perhaps you meet in-person quarterly and keep tabs on your progress in a private Facebook group. Maybe members are scattered across the country and you get together annually for a weekend retreat. Or perhaps you’re a local group that can manage bi-weekly gatherings at the coffee house. Play around and see what works best for your particular group.
How will a mastermind benefit me?
• You will grow. You will bring your particular challenges and history to the table when you join a mastermind group. Perhaps you have an established, successful business but haven’t been able to meet that one big goal for your business on your own. Maybe you’re just starting out and have been hustling but can’t seem to to get that first big break or press mention. The commonality here is growth. You want to evolve your business, your idea, and yourself as a creative person and grow to meet those big goals. Accountability is a huge part of this. There’s power in setting your goal, out loud, in front of the champions in your corner.
• You will make lasting connections. Your mastermind is your sounding board and can offer you an alternative way of looking at a problem. Your mastermind is also the ultimate networking opportunity. Perhaps you’re interviewing web developers for a new site and several members of your group recently went through web redesigns. Pick their brains, get referrals, ask them what they wish they knew before they started the project.
• You will invite the unexpected into your life. You may be joining the group with a specific big picture goal in mind, but let yourself be open to the surprises that happen, including partnerships or collaborations that present as new opportunities.
• Your confidence will improve. Your group has your back. They understand your issues even if they have never personally experienced your particular challenge. Things that come easily to you may be a huge struggle for other team members and vice versa. Talk about a huge confidence boost.
• You will hack your life. You might be thinking that there isn’t enough time to add another meeting to your schedule. But stay with me here. This is an investment: an hour a week (or whatever your commitment is) spent with your mastermind group will save you a huge amount of time down the road. The benefits far outweigh the “loss” of an hour that could have been spent doing your “real work”. Ariana Huffington talks about this idea in her book Thrive—meditation, exercise, and sleep alone do not pay bills. But if you invest a small amount of time in yourself, you will transform your life and your work.
What do you think about masterminds?
Would you join a mastermind? Does this sound like something you could commit to in order to bring your business to the next level? I’m all in and want to make this a priority for myself in the coming months. If you’re not sure where to start, try creating a Meetup of creative professionals in your area. Attend local or national conferences (hello, Craftcation!) to meet your people. Ask the one person you know who might be down, and ask her or him to ask a friend. We can do this. I’m excited to see where we go.
Rebecca Pitts is the founder and owner of Hudson + Daughter, an online shop that sells commissioned, handmade family treasures made of eco-friendly bamboo. She writes about running a creative business, making art for and with her daughter, and living in the Hudson Valley on her blog.