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Monday, December 10 , 2018, 12:04 am | Fair 52º


Paul Burri: The Mastermind Group

Camaraderie develops among businesspeople working through common problems

I belong to an interesting little group of businesspeople. We call ourselves The Mastermind Group.

Paul Burri
Paul Burri

As nearly as I can tell, we stole the idea from something suggested by Napoleon Hill in his book Think and Grow Rich, written in the 1900s. We may have somewhat mangled Hill’s original idea, but the concept is very simple and it comes from the idea that “two heads are better than one.”

Here’s how ours works. We are a group of five or six local businesspeople who meet for breakfast every two weeks to talk about almost anything but mainly business-related subjects. We never have an agenda, but we always find something of mutual interest to talk about. One week it might be about competition and how to deal with it. Another week, one of the members may be having an employee problem. Still another week, someone may be considering renting or buying a larger facility for his or her business.

The truth is that most small companies have similar problems, even though they might be in vastly different business fields. All businesses have problems relating to customers, employees, suppliers, money, credit, insurance, compliance with various regulations, taxes, insurance, real estate — the list seems endless.

It often turns out that a problem I may be having in my business today is similar to one that another member has had in the past and successfully solved. Or perhaps another member can learn from a mistake I made in the past.

Rarely does anyone go away from a Mastermind breakfast without having learned something useful for his or her business. Beyond the camaraderie of our breakfasts, we have developed a sort of “brotherhood” of businesspeople who we can call or e-mail for help and advice when we need it.

Lastly, and not to be dismissed lightly, is that the group helps dispel the feeling of being all alone in one’s business. This is a phenomenon not often discussed. Many small businesses are owned and operated by a sole owner/manager who often feels all alone with no one to talk to about the day-to-day problems that arise. Sure, he can talk to his wife when he gets home at night, but it’s just not the same as talking to another person facing the same daily issues.

Our little group is always looking for one or two fresh faces. Alternatively, I would be happy to explain how to start and nurture a new Mastermind Group to anyone interested. E-mail me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

— Paul Burri is an entrepreneur, inventor, columnist, engineer and iconoclast. He is not in the advertising business, but he is a small-business counselor with the Santa Barbara chapter of Counselors to America’s Small Business-SCORE. The opinions and comments in this column are his alone and do not represent the opinions or policies of any outside organization. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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