In your quest to meet and even surpass your professional goals, you will no doubt need and want some help along the way. A business support or mastermind group can serve as a valuable tool to help you generate innovative ideas and deal with the challenges you may face as a small business owner.

When forming such a group, it is important to find the right kind of people to maximize the effectiveness of the group as a whole. Look for like-minded people whose ambitions and goals are similar to yours.

Find people who:

  • Share your level of passion and goals. People in business support groups don’t have to all be in the same industry or come from the same field of experience. However, they should all have a strong passion for their business and an equally strong commitment to achieving their goals. This ensures that each person will contribute value to the group rather than holding it back by being the weak link. Create a list of questions to ask a potential group member that he or she can answer to give you a good idea of what drives this person to success. Ask about what the person hopes to get out of the group, what the person can contribute, and where the person sees him/herself in five years. If you can relate to most of the answers, then this person could be the right fit for your group.
  • Can get together in person. Conference calls and Skype sessions are very useful and efficient when in-person meetings are not possible or practical, but don’t overlook the benefits of meeting as a group in person. Non-verbal communication is just as powerful as words, and it’s imperative that the people in the group have a certain level of trust among each other. Meeting in person also allows you to more easily share materials in a tactile way. Holding something in your hand is always more effective than seeing it on a screen. If at all possible, form a group who can commit to regular meetings in person, or at the very least commit to in-person retreats annually or semi-annually.
  • Will motivate each other. Business support groups are not just about exchanging ideas and feedback. Be each other’s cheerleaders. If someone in the group is experiencing a difficult time such as an unforeseen financial setback, be encouraging, attentive, and empathetic. Point out to the person what his or her strengths are, especially because during times of personal failure, we seem to forget those. You can also be objective, and point out steps the group member can take to move forward, that he or she may not see because the failure has clouded his or her view. Motivate each other in good times and bad and develop a rapport that allows group members to count on each other as allies. A good morale will increase the effectiveness of what a support group can offer.
  • Complement your strengths and weaknesses. Find people who support your strengths and fill voids of your weaknesses. For instance, if you are an idea person, but have trouble mapping out a plan of action, look for someone who is detail-oriented and can help you execute your ideas. Or if you are a creative mind when it comes to advertising but don’t have a head for numbers, look for a person who can help you maximize the limits of your budget. A group whose members have a variety of strengths and weaknesses will be able to offer the most support and assistance to each person involved.

Although forming and participating in a business support group or mastermind can be time-consuming, it is an important investment of time. Such a group can help you meet your goals, grow your business, and achieve success.

What else should you look for in a business support group? Share your ideas below!