You’re wrong.

Um, excuse me?

I said you’re wrong. You’re wrong about what you think a mastermind group is.

It’s okay. Most entrepreneurs are.

You see, most entrepreneurs think any ole business group that meets on a regular basis is a mastermind.

Hm, nope. Definitely not.

Most of the time what those entrepreneurs are actually thinking of is an accountability group.


Accountability group. Mastermind group.

Same same but most definitely different.

Why should you care? Becaauuse, one might serve your needs better than the other.

Here’s what you need to know about an accountability group versus a mastermind group.


When It’s Not an Accountability Group or a Mastermind Group

I hear from entrepreneurs all the time: “I’m in a mastermind group!”

And I get excited for them because hey, I’ve seen the game-changing benefits of mastermind groups for entrepreneurs.

But when I start asking some questions, I usually find out what they’re actually in is a do-it-yourself group of sorts.

These groups usually come together in a Facebook group, when an eager beaver posts something like this:

“Hey, so I want to be in a mastermind group and I was wondering if anyone else wants to join me.”

A bunch of enthusiastic, but indiscriminate people you don’t really know say: “YEAH! Let’s do it.”

So you and the group get together once a week or every other week and everyone randomly talks about what’s going on in their business.

After a few meetings, you start to realize:

  • You are at a completely different stage of your business than the other people in the group
  • You find yourself giving way more to the group than you’re getting
  • Nobody really keeps the conversation moving in the right direction
  • There’s no accountability or structure; it’s just people talking about their latest business crisis
  • People aren’t taking it seriously and are missing meetings
  • You like the people a whole lot, but the group isn’t helping you grow your business

These groups usually fizzle out on their own after someone gets up the courage to say it’s not working for them and they’re going to step away — then everyone else follows.

A haphazard group like that isn’t an accountability group or a mastermind group. It’s a messy experiment.


Accountability Group: Much-Needed Structure For Early-Stage Entrepreneurs

Now I’m not saying there’s no value to DIY groups. There totally is — IF they’re set up properly and expectations are reasonable.

An accountability group often starts as a DIY group. And it’s awesome for early-stage entrepreneurs and side-hustlers. Much better than a mastermind group.

When everyone is pretty new at the game and has limited experience, a mastermind group is like the blind leading the blind. Useless, and even damaging.

Early-stage entrepreneurs don’t need regurgitated information that someone else has read in a book, seen in an online course, or picked up from a Facebook post.

They need accountability, momentum, and a sense of belonging.

An accountability group, if it’s structured properly, can deliver just that.

The best accountability groups usually involve each member of the group sharing their number-one strategic initiative at a meeting and then sharing an update and a self-evaluation on how the initiative went at the following meeting.

That’s it.

They work because it helps new and newish entrepreneurs stay focused on their goals and gain the momentum they need to get their business off the ground.

It gives them someone to report to when they’re their own boss.

Most importantly, it keeps them out of situations where they’re receiving input and guidance from people who are still just trying to get their bearings themselves.

Think of it this way: you wouldn’t go to a first-year med student to get advice on how to clear up that nagging itch you’ve been having.

They could probably look up your condition in a book and repeat back to you what they’ve just read, but they have zero experience with your condition. Chances are, you’re going to keep itching.


Mastermind Group: Secret Sauce For Full-Time Entrepreneurs

Mastermind groups are peer mentoring groups for more established entrepreneurs, where members push, support, and guide each other.

Full-time entrepreneurs need more than accountability; they need strategic advice and insight from other full-time, experienced business owners.

Because mastermind groups are peer-focused groups (rather than led by a coach), everyone in the group needs to be qualified so they can bring their real-world experiences to the party.

When a mastermind group has the right people, an effective structure for collaboration, and a dedicated facilitator, they can be incredibly powerful for full-time entrepreneurs.

Proper mastermind groups offer shortcuts for learning curves and help members discover their blind spots, thanks to input and advice from others who have already been there.

They can also provide members with vetted resources and contacts for their businesses. It’s like having the network of the entire group available.

Another huge benefit of a mastermind group is that it’s an instant support system of people who “get” you. They motivate, encourage, celebrate big wins, and help soothe big losses.

You can’t ask for that kind of expertise and support from a group of new entrepreneurs who are just trying to figure it out for themselves.


So, Accountability Group or Mastermind Group?

Whether you’re in the early stages of starting your business or you’re established and trying to get to the next level, there is a group type that will support you.

For newer business owners, an accountability group is the best bet.

For more established entrepreneurs, a mastermind group is the right fit.

If you’re trying to decide between groups, just remember to be honest with yourself about where you are in your business.

There’s zero shame in starting with an awesome accountability group. You can’t cut corners on the process of developing a sustainable company, and it’s great to do it alongside peers in the very same position.

When you’ve made it through the tough first stages and it’s time to significantly uplevel, join a mastermind group with other like-minded CEOs who will share their tools so you can all ascend.

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