Participating in a mastermind or getting a coach is a great way to achieve clarity, obtain focus, and maintain forward momentum in your business. But which is better for you? What will get you results? What will it cost me? What should I expect? Please note that neither a mastermind or a coach can replace a licensed therapist. If you need to learn the difference between a business coach and licensed therapist I’ve written an article about what each professional does and does not do.

What is Business Coaching?

Business coaching is the methodology (the box of tools) and process (the order in which to use the tools) used to take a business from where it is are now to where the business owner wants it to be. The coach’s mission is to assist and guide the business owner in identifying, clarifying and creating action around growing their client’s business.

What is Business Consulting?

Typically, a consultant is hired on to help make practical and strategic decisions as well as facilitate and implement them. Plainly said, consultants help come up with solutions and then do some / all of the tasks to put those solutions into your company.

What is a Mastermind?

A mastermind is a small group of business owners or entrepreneurs that meet on a regular basis to share business wins, challenges or goals, and brainstorm solutions. In some mastermind groups, the organizer participates in conversations just the same as any other member. Other mastermind group configurations use the organizer only a facilitator.

How is a Business Coaching Session Run?

How do Business Consultants Work?

How is a Mastermind Group Run?

The business owner works with the coach owner one-to-one. This allows the coach and business owner to work on hyper-specific issues and solutions on the pace of the business owner. In addition, there is privacy for the business owner to discuss topics that s/he may not want to reveal to others. Some coaches offer online courses via recorded video, worksheets and groups in addition (or in lieu of) 1:1 coaching work.

Consultants can do some of the functions of a coach but with the added benefit of not offloading task(s) to the business owner or staff. On the flip side, business consultants may not be well versed in helping your team become more profitable and efficient without them. After all, you are hiring their expertise AND hours. If you need work done right now, a consultant may be a good choice as they bring immediate expertise and productivity to a project.

In my opinion, the best masterminds are small, 6-8 people with diverse businesses in different industries. I’ve personally been involved in masterminds with up to 30 people and it gets noisy, distracted and wildly off-topic. So long as the goal for each participant is clearly defined and each participant honors the time and input of the others, the entire mastermind is the same the group can thrive.

Coaching Frequency

Meeting frequency can range from weekly, bi-weekly to monthly. Having regular, consistent coaching sessions is a key element of a successful coaching plan. My experience shows that a business owner should plan and budget to work with their coach for a minimum of three to six months. Coaching is not a quick fix solution and often not only requires months of work but revisiting coaching services at times of growth, pivots, or hurdles.

Consulting Frequency

You may choose to bring on a consultant per project and only be concerned about the deliverables (end result), or you may wish to hire someone on an hourly basis to work until the outcome you desire is reached.

Meeting Frequency

Meeting frequency can range from weekly, bi-weekly to monthly. Having regular, consistent meetings is a key element of a successful mastermind.  My experience shows that a business owner should plan and budget to participate a minimum of six months to a year with a mastermind group. Some mastermind groups have a trial period that will allow you – or them – to back out of the involvement if the fit isn’t working. Masterminds are not “pop in, get a solution, leave” solution but require you to give as much as you get from your peers.

Coaching Rules

The beautiful thing about business coaching is that the rules get created according to what each business owner needs. While the coach’s job is to keep coaching sessions on track and moving forward, the more exclusive nature of the relationship allows for much more flexibility and accommodation.  

Consulting Rules

Depending on who and why you brought a consultant onboard, you may need to manage them like an employee to a certain degree. Consulting is sometimes equated with ‘freelance’ or ‘part-time,’ although this isn’t a true representation of what a business consultant can bring to your company. 

Mastermind Rules

Masterminds usually have rules for participation. Rules are decided and agreed upon by all members or as a condition of joining. Generally, rules can range from how many meetings you can miss before being cut from the group to fees to cover meeting space.

Coaching Logistics

Coaching sessions are generally held in person or via phone, Skype or video chat. Some coaches offer online courses via recorded video, worksheets and groups in addition (or in lieu of) 1:1 coaching work.

Consulting Logistics

Consultants generally work remotely with regularly scheduled check-ins or on-site alongside your staff. 

Mastermind Logistics

Mastermind meeting sessions are generally held in person or via phone, Skype or video chat. A good number of mastermind groups choose to meet in person once a year (or more) at resort retreats as a requirement of memebership.

How is a Coaching Session Structured?

I’d love to say “the sky is the limit” but that wouldn’t be exactly true. Each business coach should have their specialty, focus, or particular methodology they follow. Not every coach is right for every business owner, regardless of how amazing that coach is. It is important that you be comfortable with the coach you choose to work with and, in return, the coach needs to be comfortable with you. Some coaches may start each session with a recap of deliverables and set the agenda for the current meeting. Some may start with a question or prompt for you to address. If your coach starts every session the same or changes it up, be sure you know this up front. While it may seem that they are randomly jumping around, great coaches have a plan and constantly iterate to improve it! Some coaching programs are conducted via online courses using recorded video, worksheets and private groups. These courses are can be issued on a time release “drip feed” so that as you finish one module, the next is released. Another option is to receive the complete package of training materials that you work on at your own pace.

How is a Mastermind Group Structured?

Mastermind sessions are generally run one of two ways:

1. Rotating Hot Seat

The meeting starts with everyone sharing a win from the previous meeting. This would take approx 2-5 minutes per person. Then each meeting a different person is in the “Hot Seat”. This means they share their business challenge or goal and the group all chimes in with ideas and discussion. Total meeting time would be 45-90 minutes depending on the number of participants and the amount of time you want to dedicate to the meeting. Pre-planning what you will say for the “share a win” opener is an important part of the exercise. It is crucial that you “do the work” between mastermind sessions. The benefit of this type of mastermind structure is that every person gets heard during every meeting. The drawback is that there is not a lot of time dedicated to each person for conversation or solutions.

2. Timed Hot Seats

The meeting starts with everyone sharing a win from the previous meeting. This would take approximately 2-5 minutes per person. Each participant has a set period of time to share their business challenge and receive feedback from the group. Each person gets 10 minutes which works well for us. Pre-planning what you will say for the “share a win” opener is an important part of the exercise. It is crucial that you “do the work” between mastermind sessions. The benefit of this type of mastermind structure is that one person gets heard during every meeting and conversations are focused solely on that person’s issues and concerns. The drawback is that there is that it can take 3-4 meetings for you to get the “Hot Seat” and your issues and concerns discussed.

How Can Coaching Help Your Business?

A coach is your cheerleader, someone that has ‘been there and done that’ before, can offer you alternative points of view and then let YOU choose what path makes the most sense, and can offer positive and productive tools and skills to reach your goals. A coach has had the broad and deep experience in the genre of coaching they specialize in and can offer you alternate views or paths to consider. They can become your voice of reason, your sherpa, your guide, or your teacher. Some coaches are very pragmatic and offer calculated paths of work and exploration. Other coaches are very spiritual and offer a framework designed around specific religious teachings. Others incorporate “woo-woo” ideas like energy and meditation into their practice.

How Can a Mastermind Help Your Business?

Typically, when you add more brains and particularly, the right brains to an issue…great ideas will come up to the surface.

More Thinking Power

Get smart business owners together and things happen. Having a mix of businesses participating in the mastermind helps ensure the fresh approach to problem solving.

Better Problem-Solving

Do you ever feel like you are banging your head against the wall in your own business? When you share your challenges with others, they can help and provide ideas from a different (and often better) perspective.Diversity: Having a mix of businesses participating in the mastermind helps ensure the fresh approach to problem solving.


You know the saying – it’s not real until you have said it out loud? By sharing some of my business goals out loud with other real human beings, it holds me to accomplishing them. The accountability lies in not wanting to show up to the next meeting without a win to share, so I work hard in between meetings to ensure I have some good news to share.Relationships: I can also say that the other members of the mastermind have ended up being some of my best referral partners. When you spend more time with people, you get to know them better and want to refer business their way.

My Experience Coaching and Being Coached

I’ve run coaching programs for small business owners for over five years. I’ve also hired coaches for myself and have found it to be a critical component of my business success. Currently, I am coaching small business owners (or soon-to-be owners) in a handful of business niches. I also myself work with a coach to grow my professional speaking business. I am a firm believer that if a coach values the power of coaching, they pay good money to hire one of their own. I am a strong believer that a business owner should search for a coach that has experience in the type of business or business situation they are looking for guidance on. For example, I would be a pretty poor corporate executive coach because I have little recent experience in that field. I am, however, an excellent coach to business owners that run small businesses, especially those that involve (or need to involve) family members.

My Experience Running and Participating in Masterminds

I’ve run masterminds for the small business community for over five years as well as participated in masterminds and have found them, in conjunction with coaching, to be a critical component of my business success. I’m currently involved in two mastermind groups. The first mastermind group has only five members (4 + me.) We are tightly focused on growing each of our professional coaching businesses even though we all work on very different topics. We meet via Skype every other week. The second mastermind I am involved with is a fairly active online mastermind designed for women business owners that sell services, not traditional “products” you would stock on a shelf. We have nine members (8 + me.) I’m also very active in a private Facebook group that strongly mimics a mastermind. Invite only by the organizer and focuses on the professional speaking business and industry. It’s much more freeform than an actual mastermind group, but because we all gain so much immediate value from it, it’s called a mastermind. We do have strict rules on self-promotion and affiliate links, but because we are all professional speakers… we “get” each other and don’t pull any funny business.

How Much Does Coaching or Mastermind Group Cost?

“Free” to “worth every single penny.”

I’d like to tell you a story before we talk straight-up numbers. I have a coaching client who is a member of mastermind group where the fee is $1,250 per month with a one-year minimum involvement, a mandatory 3-day retreat (paid out of her pocket and in Bali,) and a pretty grueling application and approval process. Her mastermind group has strict rules and a solid number of deliverables to themselves and the other members. What does she get out of it? She took her family-owned small business making 5-figures and turned it into a 7-figures in under 10 months. Let me write that out for you. Her business made $47,000 (roughly) in the prior year. In under one year of being a very dedicated mastermind member, her business was making a smidgen over $1,000,000.

I was coaching her through her decision to join the mastermind group (although not my mastermind group.) There were times on the call with me she was in tears about taking such a big step. That $1,250 a month investment looked mighty expensive until you realize that she was actually LOSING $79,000 a month by not participating.

I’ve been a part of mastermind groups that cost $29 per month and include a once-per-month group video call (with 26 other people!!) and used a basic rotating “hot seat” format and no other involvement in between calls. I’ve also been a part of masterminds that cost $1,750 per month to participate in, included every-other-week Skype (2020+ update : Zoom) calls and required documented tasks, follow-ups, and deadlines between sessions.

Which mastermind was worth the cost?

The one I dedicated more time to.

Coaching can be priced a bit differently depending on the level of involvement you are receiving from your coach. Online coaching programs may run $49+ for a few videos and a worksheet. Deeply immersive 12-month online programs may include monthly coaching calls (either 1:1 or webinar-style,) video modules, workbooks, and exclusive content. These programs can run anywhere from $12,000 to $30,000. There are always programs lower or higher in price, this is just a range I’ve seen among my peers.

In-person or direct coaching can range anywhere from $150 a session/call to a flat fee of $10,000 for a three-month package. Again, prices range all over the place. The important thing here is to pay what the coach is worth AND what your budget can sustain.

Remember, you are NOT paying for your coaches time. You are paying for their undivided time to you as well as their experience.

What free gets you…

Every free mastermind I’ve been a part of (or tried to facilitate) has fallen apart due to lack of interest, time, and dedication from members. I have consistently found that paid mastermind groups have better levels of commitment from their members. Even if the payment goes into a general pool to pay for meeting space and food, knowing that other people are dependent on your fee is motivation enough to stay involved or give up your spot to someone else.

It’s a well-known phenomenon that people perceive something we’ve paid for as more valuable than the exact same thing acquired for free. Likewise, mastermind group members who have paid for the group find themselves much more motivated in the group. In the case of a professionally run mastermind group, the fee is also compensation to the facilitator for the incredible amount of “behind the scenes” work it takes to run the group.

Free coaching programs are a little easier to find and do offer quite a bit of value. I myself am a member of a few Facebook groups run by very good coaches that offer lots of ‘freebie’ information and knowledge. It’s smart on their part because it grows their community, serves people that may not be at the point financially to afford quality coaching, and honestly is put in place as an attractor for high-paying clients. Sometimes the free coaching materials is enough to get you pointed in the right direction or give you the missing piece you may need.

### This article was originally written in 2017 and updated in 2022 ###