On a frigid January night with record-breaking temps of minus 13F, thirteen spirited women braved the cold to make their way to a cozy shared workspace loft in downtown Plymouth, Michigan. Diverse as they come, we were all colors, ages, shapes, and sizes. Moms, one mom-to-be and ones that were child-free. All united by our common bond as current or aspiring small business owners, meeting to share and talk business.
With steaming herbal teas in hand we sat down to listen and encourage one another. The structure was a Business Roundtable where we all shared three of our best tips for success. I facilitated the meeting but the stars of the show were each woman who took her turn speaking her truth and trusting that she had something valuable to say. That night, it felt like the thirteen of us canceled out the negative temperature reading; that’s how strong was the warmth, energy, and support in the room.
Maybe you’re like me and enjoy reading business books or listening to a current podcast. If you do, I’m sure you’ve heard all the latest business gurus urging us to join a mastermind group—maybe theirs—at quite an investment! Seems like the latest and greatest trendy thing to do but in fact it’s an idea dating back to 1925; a term created by Napoleon Hill, author of the classic book Think and Grow Rich. Recommended read 👍🏼
Although not planned to be a mastermind group per se, that’s exactly what our little meeting of women turned out to be, and it didn’t cost an arm and a leg. The idea here is to find yourself a supportive group and join the circle! We are social creatures and nobody goes it alone.
Collaboration over competition
It’s natural human instinct to be guarded to some degree. Even observing how children play, it’s evident that sharing seems to be a learned behavior.
Recalling James Redfield’s The Celestine Prophesy, which had a huge impact on me when I first read it many years ago, once we understand that gaining human energy and becoming successful doesn’t have to come at the expense of others, we can become more giving. Yes, also in business! In fact, all that I’ve given in my business has been returned tenfold in the form of incredible goodwill, warm friendships, new opportunities and more.
Thankfully I’ve also seen gradual progress in my industry over the years. Coffee has traditionally been a very guarded, male-dominated realm, with a lot of fear over sharing data and best practices. Things are changing for the good and we now have workshops, guilds and local events intended to educate and build community.
In the spirit of sharing
Back to our mastermind meeting… I’ll close by sharing a tip mentioned several times that evening. It has to do with identifying and choosing the type of clients you enjoy working with most. Many business owners don’t define their ideal customer, making the mistake of trying to be all things to everybody. But you simply cannot please everyone! I believe that in taking the safe middle road you miss out on the chance to gain raving fans for your unique style of business.
If you think about it, the relationship between you and your loyal customers is a mini-mastermind of sorts. And by “customers” I also include staff. Your job is to serve and help them get what they need. In turn, if you endeavor to listen and get to know them, they will support and inspire you on a continuing basis.
So what kinds of people do you enjoy working with the most? Grab a pen and describe your “customer avatar(s)” in detail. Maybe even give her a name. Beyond demographics, try to get in her head to understand what she values, enjoys, listens to, and wants to accomplish. Likewise, what are her pain points, fears, and roadblocks? Once defined, you should be clear on the value you are able to offer. By choosing clients, staff and supportive groups that we wholeheartedly want to serve, work becomes so much more enjoyable.
“It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed.”— Napoleon Hill