You’ve heard that two heads are better than one and that no man is an island. No, we’re not about to share a survival guide for writing an email without ChatGPT 🤠 Instead, we’re going to discuss how you can overcome challenges, find inspiration, and grow your business when you join a mastermind group.
To get the lowdown, we chatted with with two successful WordPress developers who’ve benefited greatly from participating in mastermind groups:
- Katie Keith from Barn2 Plugins, who we recently interviewed on the first episode of our new podcast plugin.fm.
- Cristian Raiber, founder of WPChill and a successful WordPress plugin and theme entrepreneur.
Let’s kick off Part 1 of our Collective Wisdom series with…
Why WordPress Developers Should Join a Mastermind Group
What is a Mastermind Group?
The term ‘mastermind group’ was coined and introduced by American self-help author Napoleon Hill, who’s best known for his timeless personal development book Think and Grow Rich. According to him, mastermind groups are “a friendly alliance with one or more persons who will encourage one to follow through with both plan and purpose”. But what makes them so valuable? À la Napoleon: “Every mind needs friendly contact with other minds, for food of expansion and growth.”
Personally, I’m partial to any advice about getting rich 🕺 But Mister Hill’s point is that you should join a mastermind group to improve yourself and push the envelope; success will naturally follow.
Let’s examine how WordPress developers and product makers can benefit from a mastermind group.
Join a Mastermind Group to Get Feedback That Promotes Growth
All business owners can benefit from joining a mastermind group, but WordPress developers especially so.
According to Katie, solopreneurs can overcome the pitfalls of operating in a highly fragmented industry. Why? Because most solopreneurs work from home with limited peer-to-peer interaction, and mastermind groups offer a ready-made engagement/feedback cocktail.
Online entrepreneurs with teams can also benefit when they join a mastermind group. “Many plugin companies are very small, and even if you have a team, you may need more expertise to grow, especially on the more strategic, business owner level,” Katie says.
But part of the beauty of mastermind groups is their reciprocal nature, which is refreshing in an online world where many interactions are transactional.
You should only join a mastermind group if you’re going to make an effort to support your peers. You have to give back; you can’t just take. Doing so requires time, effort, and commitment.
Cristian believes mastermind groups will help WordPress developers make better products. “Many entrepreneurs build products for themselves, not their audiences,” he says. Unfortunately, this is often perpetuated by a closed feedback loop. “Entrepreneurs and small teams often rely on one another or close acquaintances for feedback: people they’ve usually known for years.
Alternatively, they look at what their existing user base wants them to do with their products. I think it’s detrimental because they’re missing out on valuable insights by not tapping into people across different segments in their industry.
To this point, it’s worth noting that entrepreneurial mastermind groups are platforms where products get discussed in a business context. They can open your mind and help you view your company as a business — not merely a vehicle for your product.
Besides offering input to improve your business, mastermind groups also help you see the bigger picture.
Mastermind Groups Promote Long-Term Planning
One of the great things about mastermind groups is that they foster and promote a growth mindset.
Imagine you’re recruiting employees without any objectives or procedures in place. Pretty soon, hiring activities will start eating away at your time and lead to opportunity costs. Someone in your mastermind group might suggest outsourcing and even recommend a good recruiter to that end. Effectively, you’ll be freed up to handle other pressing/downright more exciting projects.
And to plan like a business owner, you must also reason like one.
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Join a Mastermind Group to Reinforce Strategic Thought
Cristian’s observation has been that many WordPress developers don’t think about building their businesses strategically.
In our space, it’s common for entrepreneurs to build and ship a product and then wait for their audience to react. Sometimes this approach works, and sometimes it doesn’t. But regardless, what usually happens down the line is that these products become feature-heavy and require maintenance, which takes up time. Consequently, it’s difficult to shift them in a new direction when the tides turn because of new innovations like Gutenberg.
The big takeaway here is that the learnings that come when you join a mastermind group will help you remain lean and nimble.
“As a business owner, you need to learn the difference between building a feature that opens your product to new markets and building a feature simply because you think it’s cool.”
Mastermind groups can also aid with more pressing issues.
Mastermind Groups Help With Day-to-Day Business Decisions
Katie recalls when her mastermind group consulted on a design for a new pricing table. Several members had their designers create a template, which they screencast during the call. “It’s interesting with the different personalities because people have different angles. One person in the group is very much a theorist, and he’ll have a business theory for everything, which is really nice. So, he came up with something about decoy pricing. On the other hand, other people are more design-led. It’s interesting to get different views on practical things because we can all share what we’ve learned.”
Another reason to join a mastermind group is that it can also help resolve more — errr — uncomfortable matters.
Mastermind Groups Help With Dilemmas
Katie recalls when she had to consider ending a contract with a team member.
You can’t consult with your team if you’re thinking of firing somebody because of — for example — disciplinary reasons or a lack of motivation. I really wasn’t sure what to do, and my mastermind group gave some really useful advice, from helping me weigh the decision over several months to the wording I would use when the time came.
Mastermind groups don’t only help with resolving bad dilemmas, though. “A more positive example is when I received results from an external service provider that surveyed my team,” Katie says. “It came up that some departments felt a bit isolated. So, I talked to my mastermind group about how to empower a remote team, and they gave me practical ideas and advice.”
Mastermind groups also help you look out for an oft-overlooked team member: Yourself.
Join a Mastermind Group to Keep Yourself Accountable as a Business Owner
As a captain, you’re usually concerned with sailing the ship and making sure your crew is doing their job. And while you may have a destination on the horizon, it’s easy to get caught up chasing the treasure chest instead of consulting your navigation chart.
Put non-nautically: If you don’t have board members or investors to keep you accountable, it’s easy to overlook tasks like running profit-loss spreadsheets or ensuring your marketing efforts are generating ROI.
“There’s a theory where if you publicly state your intention of doing something, you’re more likely to follow through,” Katie explains. “In our group, we set goals for our intentions.”
On the topic of sailing the seven seas: While mastermind groups won’t help you take over the world (actually, who knows? 😳), they can offer a bird’s eye view of different leadership perspectives.
Mastermind Groups Help You Expose Your Ideas to a Global Audience
According to Cristian, only joining mastermind groups that consist of members from your town or city can be limiting. While these mastermind groups are an excellent resource for navigating obstacles and capitalizing on opportunities on your side of the pond, meeting with peers on the other bank lets you tap into collective intelligence on a global scale.
But why is this so beneficial? Simply put: Different cultures have different ways of looking at things. In other words, you can learn how to penetrate new markets by understanding their wants and needs. Cristian says:
Effectively, mastermind groups can set you up for growth by helping you avoid confinement to a limited number of markets.
Speaking of: Mastermind Groups (May) Provide a Broad Overview of the Entire Industry
Mastermind groups can help you see where other entrepreneurs are taking their businesses and products, which paints a picture of where the industry is headed. Of course, this is assuming that the mastermind group involves peers from the same industry, which isn’t always the case.
And speaking of industries: mastermind groups don’t necessarily have to revolve around business and entrepreneurship. If you’re looking to grow in another area — development, videography, animation, writing, etc. — you can find groups of like-minded people with varying interests and expertise to confide in and get honest feedback.
In fact, Katie encourages her team members to join mastermind groups. “My video producer is a social person, and I thought he needed more stimulation than what he’s getting from the team Slack and so on. Also, because he’s the only video person on the team, he isn’t learning from other video people. So I encouraged him to form a mastermind group with fellow YouTubers who are also in the WordPress space, and they’re about to have their first call.”
However, for the purposes of this article, we’re examining the benefits of entrepreneurial mastermind groups, which are generally focused on business topics. Sure — it’s true that many (if not most) entrepreneurs in our space are WordPress developers. But according to Cristian, the irony is that you don’t necessarily need the best code in the world to sell more products. “Code is always changing. If you’re eager to join a mastermind group as a WordPress developer, my assumption is that you want to make more money.”
Moving along (and putting money aside)… to join a mastermind group can be an excellent way of gaining exposure.
Join a Mastermind Group to Create Leads
You’ve probably heard that it’s all about who you know, and this rings true for mastermind groups. If you need a lead — for the right reasons — your peers will usually be happy to provide a backstage pass.
Cristian elaborates: “What I often see on my private mastermind group chats is someone asking, Hey, does anyone have a connection at <name of organization>? and someone will go: Yeah, we’ve been in touch with their people for a few years and we have a good relationship. Here’s an email address you can use, just mention my name. This is insanely valuable because getting your business noticed or even into someone’s inbox in our crowded space can be extremely difficult.”
NOTE: While mastermind groups can be helpful for generating leads, they shouldn’t be used as networking platforms, which is a topic that the upcoming Part 2 of this series will dive into.
Mastermind Groups Keep You Motivated
Cristian is of the opinion that many entrepreneurs don’t necessarily set out to build long-term businesses:
If you’ve uncovered a micro-niche, it’s logical to plan for a business that’ll only last for two or three years or even a few months before competitors catch on.
While a shorter-term endeavor will have its own challenges, building a business for 10–15 years — or even to stand the test of time — requires never-ending innovation. “You constantly have to add smaller pieces of the market to your audience and grow at a pace you’re comfortable with and can sustain,” Cristian clarifies.
Staying motivated while building an enduring empire can be difficult. “In Romania, we have an expression: Appetite comes by eating. If you see someone enjoying their food, you’ll remain hungry and keep tucking into your plate.”
In this regard, mastermind groups can offer a good support network. They might consist of members who are going through the same process as you or others who can share insights from past experiences.
Mastermind groups can also help you get to the next tier.
Mastermind Groups Help You Reach New Frontiers
It’s not a given, but there’s every chance you might arrive at a point where you feel stuck. Picture the following scenario:
You’re earning $2k a month while other entrepreneurs with similar offerings to yours are generating $20k. You improve your product(s), do market research, and make a few clever decisions. Within two years — instead of the projected ten — you too have suddenly joined the $20k/month club. You realize you’re not prepared for this milestone and have no idea what to do next (probably what reaching middle age feels like).
“It’s uncharted territory,” Cristian says. “Success is great, but it also means you’re going to have to keep learning how to take your business further.”
While joining a mastermind group might help you get into the $20k/month club, the ultimate lessons will be about maintaining momentum via valuable business and growth hacks.
Join a Mastermind Group to Challenge Your Status Quo
Some mastermind group members are going to challenge industry perceptions as well as your product, often by playing devil’s advocate. “Try to find as many of these people as you can,” Cristian says.
And because mastermind groups can bring you down to earth…
Mastermind Groups Connect You With People on Your Level
Much of the narrative around entrepreneurial advice is based on insights from outliers. In other words, super-successful CEOs like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and the like. But the problem is that these individuals often faced vastly different personal and contextual challenges than 99.9% of entrepreneurs. They were also in the right place at the right time, when the stars aligned and the market was ripe for mega-innovation. Someone who’s running a business that won’t net more than — say — $2 million over the course of its existence will likely feel disconnected from these titans’ experiences.
Playing catch with people in a mastermind group who are — roughly — on the same playing field as you is grounding, and it offers a practical platform from which to navigate your actual, unique journey.
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Mastermind Groups Help With Life-Changing Business Decisions
For entrepreneurs, business decisions that impact their lives will inevitably arise. Katie shares her experiences in the video below:
Thanks to shared experiences and personal knowledge, mastermind groups can be excellent — and honest — soundboards when the stakes are high.
In my opinion, the biggest perk when you join a mastermind group is that it can offer way more than the possibility of business expansion.
Mastermind Groups Build Personal Wealth
In the early days of starting a business, many WordPress developers will be bootstrapped and join mastermind groups to help them grow. But over time, mastermind groups offer more than sage advice for professional gain.
If you join a mastermind group, treat it as a long-term investment. Growing with a group of peers while navigating setbacks and triumphs together adds immeasurable value to your experience of building a business and living life in general. And being an entrepreneur means that life will inevitably be intertwined with business. It’s a wild ride, and you might as well make some awesome connections while you’re at it 😉