Small business owners like to set their own agenda, hours, and rules. Working for themselves is a good thing.  However, it can also be a bad thing to try to operate a business without sufficient accountability.

Not having someone to report to can tempt a solopreneur to become sloppy, demotivated, and under performing.  Like it or not, most of us need someone out there to take an interest in us and in what we’re doing.  Accountability gives us the momentum we need.

An accountability or mastermind group may be just what the small business owner needs to join to stay motivated.

Accountability or Mastermind Group Structure
Some accountability or mastermind groups meet online through webinars or through teleconferencing.  This type of structure is helpful to the entrepreneur who doesn’t want to spend extra time driving to a location or for the business owner who wants to collaborate with long-distance members.

Other accountability groups meet in person.  Members pay a fee that covers the room rental and a stipend for the organizer.  These groups meet at a set time regularly with a set group of like-minded individuals.  Those involved won’t necessarily be in the same line of work.  It doesn’t matter.  It still works if all the participants are looking for support for growing their own business.

Each accountability or mastermind group will operate uniquely. One might be led by a coach who facilitates the group. Another might include peers who all take turns sharing.

Some groups use an open forum while others stick to an agenda.  Each person is given time to speak followed by a time for others to ask questions and offer feedback.

A nice bonus many accountability or mastermind groups use is they create private social media groups where they can interact between meetings.

Accountability or Mastermind Groups versus Business Networking
Accountability or mastermind groups are different from business networking groups.  Networking groups are for participants to advertise what they do and to connect with potential clients.

In networking groups, small business owners put on their game face.  They try to project a specific image.  They may be less likely to show their vulnerable side in a group of this nature since they want to project a successful image.

An accountability or mastermind group on the other hand, is a place where small business owners will gain support through being vulnerable.  They will enjoy sharing their work when they know others are willing to listen.  They will consider feedback.

Accountability or mastermind groups tend to provide these business-building benefits:

Social Interaction
For the work-from-home business owner or even the one stuck in a corner office alone, getting out to be with real people who aren’t clients can be just what he or she needs for social interaction. An accountability or mastermind group may be a good place to find new pals.

Validation
It takes a bit of risk and bravery to participate in an accountability or mastermind group, but the payoff is validation.  Small business owners will take their work more seriously and feel what they do is more legitimate when others affirm them.  The group will provide support that helps members feel more professional.

Feedback
An accountability or mastermind group is a place for sharing.  Members will exchange tips, helpful websites, tools, and other discoveries.  It’s a place group members can ask for feedback on ideas and for solutions to struggles.  Chances are another business owner in the group will have gone through a similar issue and have valuable input.

Goal setting
A usual activity in an accountability or mastermind group is for members to set short-term business goals.  They will report on their successes in a follow-up meeting. This is where accountability occurs. The group members will hold each other accountable to achieve their goals.

Motivation
Business owners who are in an accountability or mastermind group will find they are most productive just before their next meeting.  Knowing they have to give an update on their progress gives them a needed push. Members should also find they work much harder between meetings when being part of such a group.

Seeing the steps others are taking provides extra motivation to stay active.  A spinoff of being part of such a group is members often leave a group meeting feeling more inspired.

Honesty
Since sharing intimate details of one’s business can be intimidating, it may be tempting to embellish the truth.  Group members will see through the exaggerations though.  The result will be a lack of trust.

Members only need to share the information they’re comfortable sharing.  It’s not necessary to report dollar figures.  It’s more important to make connections between actions and outcomes.

Admitting Failures
Authenticity should be encouraged in an accountability or mastermind group. While goal setting and accountability are high purposes for the group, sharing struggles is just as important.  If a member fails to meet his or her goal, it can be helpful to look at why that occurred.

While it’s tempting to set lofty goals in such a setting, making small incremental progress is just as important as reaching big goals.

Celebrations
It can be hard for small business owners to find anyone other than their significant other or even their mother to care about their achievements.  An accountability or mastermind group will become the group of people who will care.

As members report successes, there should be no feelings of humiliation for those not doing as well, nor should there be jealousy.  Members should cheer each other on.

The overall benefit from participating in an accountability or mastermind group is the small business owner will feel supported and will be better equipped to have a more profitable business.

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