In theory, a successful business follows a relatively easy formula.
Find a need, develop a solution, connect those in need with your solution…. Success in business should be pretty easy, right?
Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you view it), this is not the case.
Starting/scaling/running a business is VERY hard.
Regardless of the industry, it's hard. If it's not, you're probably not doing something right (or don't tell anyone...).
Better yet, here's a quote that sums it up:
“Being an entrepreneur is like eating glass and staring into the abyss of death.”
Yep, that's pretty brutal.
In all of the businesses I've been involved in - whether it’s as an Analyst, Advisor, Founder or Investor - they all have issues. It’s part of it.
A ‘startup’ is just a massive problem solving exercise with unlimited work - it’s just a matter of prioritizing that work so you don’t drown every day. Knowing which problems to work on solving each day is the fun part.
When you’re in the trenches of a business, often it’s easy to get stuck in your own echo chamber. So so easy. Decisions are made in a vacuum and they always make more sense in a closed meeting on a whiteboard.
This echo chamber is amplified nowadays. Many of the algorithms on social medias and search engines give us answers that agree with our points of view, making that opinion that much stronger in our heads. How can we find opposing opinions to our foolproof plan of moving the business forward?
As the business grows and matures, perhaps more advisors, board members and team members are brought on board to help provide new input.
However, at the earlier (more crucial) stages, this normally isn’t the case. Yes, sometimes these people are present, but everyone’s time nowadays is stretched and dedicating a lot of time per week to tackle YOUR particular problems is very difficult.
In your business, would you benefit from another point of view dissecting and helping you tackle your biggest problems?
Help does exist for startups. Investors have a lot of money thanks to the recent massive economic expansion, and are always looking for interesting ways of deploying that capital.
In late 2018 our startup, ITF, was accepted into Startup Yard’s Batch X Accelerator Program.
As part of the accelerator program, in the first month each team would meet with 100+ mentors in 1x1 mentoring sessions. I was blown away at the caliber of these mentors in the program. Top-level Corporate Executives (C-Suite or Senior Management from many of Central Europe’s largest companies), Investors/Angels/VCs, and successful Entrepreneurs coming from all sorts of industries/functions - it was an awesome experience. As part of the process they listen to your business plan, your focus, and your biggest hurdles.
Then they ask questions and challenge your views.
The goal of this process is to listen and note the feedback you get, looking for patterns in the responses - as the many different backgrounds will have many different viewpoints.
For many small startups, going the VC-funding route or through an accelerator isn’t the goal or part of the plan. Perhaps at least not yet it isn't.
For these types of startups, finding help in the early stages is difficult, and critical.
Fortunately today, there are other options.
Currently, there are many incubators that won’t rely on sending you down the path of raising more and more VC funds. One such example would be B Hub Prague, which also has Virtual Membership available for those not physically present in Prague, Czech Republic.
Another potential option to get good unbiased feedback would be to join a MasterMind or hire on an Advisor.
A MasterMind is interesting as it won’t cost you any equity, and the benefits can be tremendous. A good MasterMind is like having an entire unbiased group of advisors helping you think out your biggest struggles. You’ll also benefit from providing value and helping other startups in similar positions, hopefully learning from their difficulties prior to facing them yourself.
About 2 years ago I was involved in my first MasterMind through Dynamite Circle. I found tremendous value from this group. Monthly meetings discussing our biggest hurdles, I really benefited from outside perspective.
A MasterMind Group is a “group of two or more people who are focused on a single idea or share similar goals.”
It’s a group of entrepreneurs that get together regularly and work together to problem solve each others’ most significant hurdles at that time.
The concept of the Mastermind Group was ‘introduced’ by Napoleon Hill in his book “Think and Grow Rich” in the 1930’s.
These can take many different forms, but arise from the idea that ’two heads are better than one’ - which absolutely applies with generating online business ideas.
Over the past 3 months, we’ve been running a weekly mastermind with a few entrepreneurs I know.
Our MasterMind groups is small, kept to just 6 people and we have structured meetings that are held weekly to tackle various problems each member is having with their online businesses.
Each week, we practice what is considered the “hot seat” method. Rotating each week, one member will talk about his/her business major hurdles at the moment for 10-20 minutes and the others do their best to help him/her out.
The Hot Seat will rotate through all members in the group at least two times, we will track progress and ensure everyone is sticking to their plans.
After the group has worked on the “this week’s member’s” issues, next week they do the same thing to the next member. And so on.
Notes are taken and tracked as well as each members’ progress to make sure everyone is sticking to their plan.
It’s an amazingly simple process, but the feedback and growth that have come from it is outstanding.
In these 3 short months, partnerships have been formed, collaborations started, and beneficial introductions made. Undoubtedly there will be some new investment opportunities that are created.
Simply put, to provide a valuable outside perspective to breath life into your business.
The goal of these sessions is to help you brainstorm new possibilities, and set up accountability structures that keep you focused and on track.
An outcome is that you will create a community of supportive colleagues who will brainstorm together to move the group to new heights.
You'll gain and share tremendous insights, which can improve your business and personal life. Your Mastermind Group is like having an objective board of directors to help guide you in your biggest struggles with your business.
Our MasterMind Groups were created to create value. We’re learning and want feedback as we grow and evolve this (just like any small business).
Here are the current rules:
These MasterMinds are here to ADD VALUE to your business.
We’re here to help. Help each of us grow faster than we would on our own, and share our knowledge to help us succeed with our problems.
We’ll be opening up a second MasterMind Group in July. Please send me an email if you’re interested in joining, or sign up with the link below: