Entrepreneurs have "study groups" also. Only we call them "masterminds." Finding accountability partners can be key to a successful business venture. A good mastermind will be comprised of fellow business people who can support your efforts, help you brainstorm problems, and keep you on schedule, The right mastermind can mean the difference between passing and failing. Here's what to look for in your own “study group:”
A variety of skills. The best groups have members with expertise in different areas. The tax accountant, the paralegal, the sales trainer can all advise each other and provide different perspectives on the same topics. If everyone is in the same industry with the same background, you may have a lot in common, but you won't be able to brainstorm as effectively.
Similar commitment level. The most important element may very well be a common level of commitment to your goals, whatever they may be. If one member is a little lax and the others are all gung-ho, the mismatch will soon drive everyone crazy and cause bad feelings.
Regular meeting times. Whether you're meeting by Skype, in person, or in a chat room, make a regular weekly or monthly appointment, and keep it! Nothing will submarine a group faster than no-shows or constantly changing meeting times.
Structured meeting. The meeting doesn't have to be scripted down to the last minute with a pre-released agenda, but at least having a time limit on each member will ensure no one hogs the whole time – or never shares his or her progress at all.
Resource-sharing. One of the most valuable roles an accountability group can play is providing recommendations and referrals. Looking for a great graphic designer, bookkeeper, or webmaster? Your “study group” should be your first stop.
One final thing to keep in mind is that masterminds, like friendships, are created differently. Some will last a season as you launch your business; some may last only a few weeks or months. I belong to one that has met for two years! Be ready to let your group go if it's no longer fitting your needs. It will be hard, but if it's not helping you further your goal, it may be time to move up and on.
Coming up next: What's on your reading list?