On the virtues of a Mastermind group

Back in the summer at the Creative Freelancers Conference, one tip was repeated by numerous speakers and also by several of my fellow freelancers – get yourself an accountability group. I thought about it, recognized the value of it and ta-da, now I’m actually getting started on it.

I can’t claim the credit for the idea, that goes to the very wonderful Forrest Anderson (who really is the Nate Silver of communications research) who got the whole thing going. However, I can claim the good sense of recognizing that getting together regularly with three smart and funny entrepreneurs is going to have a huge impact on my business.

We’ve just got started but already I’m seeing the value in specific ways:

  1. My fellow Masterminders have suggested some new markets I could approach that are totally in line with where I want to take my business.
  2. I have a real problem with goal setting and planning. It’s not that I don’t want to but…ahem…I really don’t understand the process of going about it. I mean, I understand you set goals and take steps to try to achieve them but I didn’t really know practically what a goal should look like or how to use a plan to get there. I am delighted that two of the Masterminders are expert at this and extremely generous with their knowledge.
  3. I’m inspired by the group. Their commitment to their own businesses is making me re-examine and recommit to mine.

Plus, it’s a ton of fun.

Next step for us is the “Day of Planning”. We’ve carved out a whole day to work on our business plans.  A whole day. I think that this might be the year I actually create a plan that will help me guide and grow my business.

So, thank you to all those smart people in Boston in June. And for anybody hesitating over starting a group like ours, my advice is go for it – you won’t regret it.



Positioning is hard

I can write positioning statements for clients. I can help them to focus on their core offering, the unique value they offer and the ideal clients they need to attract. Doing all this also involves defining what they do not want to do, and who they do not want to serve. Alrighty then – it makes perfect sense.

Until I get to my own marketing. In theory, I should be able to apply the same principles to my own business –  but this is what happened when I started revising the copy for my new website (this one!):

Me: I really want to emphasize that I am great at internal communications. That’s where most of my work is, that’s what I enjoy, that’s where I find clients I love working with.

Brain Gremlin:  But that means you have to turn down everything that isn’t internal communications – like that annual report for the Metta Fund, and that great B2B website.

Me: No – I can still do that, I just don’t have to talk about it on my site.

Brain Gremlin: But all of those awesome clients will see your site and take that great work elsewhere because you don’t specifically mention it.

Me: Aaaargh – I will never work again, nobody will ever offer me any work, I will die penniless and alone under a bridge… maybe I should mention other things too.

Sound familiar?

The thing that gets in the way is fear – but how realistic is that fear?

You’ll have to turn away work

Really? If I come across someone who wants my help for something that  I can do well, even though it’s not mentioned on my website, I have to turn it down? Uh, that seems kind of dumb.

The truth is – I can accept it if I like. And if I don’t want to take it on, I can point out that actually this kind of work isn’t my sweet spot ( see the evidence of my website)  but I have a fantastic freelance colleague that I can recommend.

Awesome clients will see your website and decide to take their project elsewhere

Does this really happen? My clients usually come from referrals from people I know or I have worked for. I can’t think of a single example where a client has found and hired me only on the basis of my website.

So why have a website, you ask? And the reason is that it provides reassurance, lets referred clients check me out a bit before they reach out. Most importantly, it makes it much easier for potential clients to approach me and start a conversation. For example – I see you worked for our big competitor- was it in the same area?  Did you run across my friend Joe Smith? And all of these questions make it easy for me to sell my services in a non douchey way – which is super important as we all know.

So – I have nothing to lose by focusing on the work and the clients that I love!

But I think this is a really common dilemma  - we agonize over decisions for our own business that are no-brainers when we work for our clients.  Any other examples you’ve come across?