Why a Mastermind? The Value of Peer Advisory Groups in Our Competitive Industry

5 min read

When we first started DesignDash, I coached a few designers who were approaching major changes and opportunities for growth within their firms. It was around this time that Melissa Grove and I realized that we wanted DesignDash to support this community and build up the confidence of those in our network.

DesignDash has since evolved into a media company designed to inspire, educate, excite, inform, celebrate, and engage creative entrepreneurs of all disciplines. The Mastermind is one part of how we engage those in our network. While this season’s cohort was filled with interior design firm owners, future Masterminds will bring together diverse groups of creatives who will share their challenges, concerns, and achievements with each other.

We believe that all business owners can benefit from a peer advisory group—including interior designers, photographers, architects, and fine artists.

Why a Mastermind?

For those who are not familiar with the concept, the mastermind or peer advisory group was popularized by Napoleon Hill in his book Think and Grow Rich. A mastermind is a group of individuals—in our case, design firm owners—who come together to share their expertise, experience, knowledge, and skills. Each participant supports the others in achieving their individual goals and objectives—particularly in business and professional development.

People join or create mastermind groups for various reasons—including but not limited to entrepreneurial ventures, personal development, career advancement, and achieving specific goals. The success of masterminds usually depends on the dedication and contribution of each member as well as the leadership qualities of its creators.

In our recent Mastermind, everyone participated during monthly meet-ups. One volunteer from our group sat in the “Hot Seat”—posing a challenge, asking a question, or describing an issue currently affecting their firm. More about this below!

The Structure of a DesignDash Mastermind

At DesignDash, each Mastermind includes a virtual meeting hosted once a month throughout the course of the season, optional weekly coffee chats, the ability to participate in and seek 24/7 support from our private Facebook community, and an exciting retreat in the end!

Monthly Meetings

In our monthly meetings, we begin with a roundup of successes. Each participant shares a professional achievement with the group. We incorporate this into each meeting of our team at DesignDash. Sharing our achievements sets a positive tone for productive chats and ensures we are all invested in each other’s success.

We then hear from a member in the “Hot Seat.” This member shares a challenge with which they or their studio is currently struggling. Their peers then offer advice based on their experiences, approaches, and ideas. Hot Seat topics during our Summer 2023 Mastermind included everything from appropriate pricing strategies to respectful ways of dealing with difficult clients.

We conclude each monthly meeting with a Q&A, a request for next month’s “Hot Seat” contributor, and news about upcoming events.

Coffee Chats and Facebook Group Participation

Between monthly meetings, Mastermind participants can ask questions of other members in our private Facebook group. They can also offer support to other members, share their successes, and read about DesignDash’s takes on the latest in our industry.

Seasonal Retreat

Each Mastermind concludes with an engaging weekend retreat hosted by Melissa, myself, and DesignDash partners. We recently wrapped up our inaugural Dasher Network Mastermind, and enjoyed a retreat at Design Chicago last month! Attending talks, enjoying tours, and dining together was the perfect way for our Mastermind cohort to end the season!

Benefits of Participating in a Mastermind Cohort

Masterminds require commitment and accountability, but they also offer support, encouragement, and structured problem-solving from the brightest minds in our industry. Having a mix of people from different design specialties, business sizes, and market segments can provide a broader perspective on scaling strategies.

For example, a peer from a commercial design background can offer insights that might be applied to residential design to tap into new markets. Below are a few other benefits Melissa and I have witnessed Mastermind members reap from our inaugural session.

Commitment and Accountability

Consistent interactions with a group help maintain momentum and focus. It can lead to discussions on trends, project management, and client acquisition strategies that are vital for growth.

Being committed to the group encourages consistency in strategic planning and execution—which is essential for scaling a business. It also helps in establishing long-term relationships that can lead to collaborations and referrals.

Having peers to answer to can push a design firm owner to follow through on expansion plans—i.e., hiring additional staff, ramping up marketing efforts, or exploring new markets.

Setting Clear Goals and Actionable Strategies to Achieve Those Goals

Setting clear goals for business expansion and getting regular feedback can help interior designers stay aligned with their vision, make adjustments as needed, and achieve measurable progress. Using structured methods to address issues—i.e., how to streamline the design process for scalability or how to maintain quality during rapid growth, can help create actionable strategies.

Drawing from Collective Intelligence to Solve Problems

Design firm owners like those who participated in our latest Mastermind can leverage the group’s collective knowledge to solve complex problems. These problems might include navigating the challenges of scaling operations, managing larger teams, dealing with difficult clients, or expanding their service offerings. We found the experience of other members to be absolutely invaluable when dissecting problems and challenges in our monthly meetings.

Support, Encouragement, and the Freedom to Discuss Problems in a Confidential Environment

Scaling any business can be stressful, but the personal touch required by interior design makes scaling a firm even more complicated. Having a support system that understands the unique challenges of the interior design industry can provide emotional support and motivate the owner to overcome obstacles.

Furthermore, knowing that strategic discussions, financial details, and expansion plans will not be shared outside the group can give firm owners the confidence to be open about their challenges and aspirations.

Joining a DesignDash Mastermind

Curious About Joining a Mastermind?
Join us for a free informational session on Zoom 15 November at 10: 30 AM CT.

For an interior design firm owner, the benefits outlined above translate into actionable strategies and a support system that can make scaling a smoother and more successful process. The collective wisdom of our DesignDash Mastermind cohort can help each participant not just anticipate and navigate the pitfalls of expansion but also capitalize on opportunities that they might not have identified on their own.

I feel like we got so much great information from this. We had questions and Laura had answers!

Susan Klimala, CKBD TKS Design Group, Mastermind Member

Curious about joining a Mastermind? On the heels of our final session for 2023, we’re hosting a virtual discussion to talk all about what masterminds entail. If you’ve wondered what a Mastermind is, who participates, and how it can benefit your business, please join us 15 November at 10:30 AM CST!

By DesignDash Co-Founder Laura Umansky.