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AP 1025: Should I Hire a Coach or Get into a Mastermind Group?

AP 1025: Should I Hire a Coach or Get into a Mastermind Group?

By Pat Flynn on

About This Episode

This week’s coaching call is with Melanie Bledsoe, who wants to know if she should hire a coach or get into a mastermind group, or both. She’s trying to discern what the next step is for her. Of course, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for something like this, but I’m going to coach her through it so that she can walk away with some guidance for her decision. You can find Melanie online at BledsoeConsultingServices.com or on Instagram @BledsoeConsultingServices.

We start off by exploring why Melanie is interested in a mastermind group and/or coaching, and what she feels would be the main benefits of each. I describe my personal experience with them, and we begin to pinpoint what Melanie needs the most help with going forward, and how a mastermind group or coaching might fit her needs. We talk through a series of questions that Melanie can use in her discernment, and Melanie gets a better idea of how to proceed.

What You’ll Learn:
Learn how to decide if a mastermind group or personal coaching is right for your business journey.

AskPat 1025 Episode Transcript

Pat Flynn: Hey, what’s up everybody? Pat Flynn here and welcome to Episode 1025 of AskPat 2.0. This is a show where I coach entrepreneurs like you. You all apply at AskPat.com, I select people who have some really interesting pains or problems that I can help them through, then we get on a call, and I dig deep into some of their problems to help them out. And you’re all listening right now, kind of like a fly on a wall in these conversations.

And today we’re talking with Melanie, who wants to know whether or not she should hire a coach or get into a mastermind group, or both. She’s been hearing a lot about coaches and mastermind groups and she just doesn’t know what the right next steps are for her. Now, I can’t say there’s a one-size-fits-all solution, but we’re going to have a solution by the end of this for Melanie.

Now, before we get to that, I do want to thank today’s sponsor, which is FreshBooks, one of my favorite companies because they help manage my business finances. I’ve been with them for years, and they just make things so much easier, from keeping track of the income, to the expenses, to also the invoicing. So if you ever need to create a professional-looking invoice—say for example you’re a coach or a consultant or you just bill anybody—you can create a professional-looking invoice in less than thirty seconds.

And not only that, they help you keep track of not just who owes you money after you bill them, but who has yet to even open that invoice, which is really cool, so super-handy. Check them out. You can actually check them out for thirty days for free by going to FreshBooks.com/askpat and just make sure you enter “Ask Pat” in the “How did you hear about us?” section. Awesome, here is Melanie, enjoy.

Hey Melanie, thank you so much for coming on AskPat 2.0, I appreciate you being here.

Melanie Bledsoe: Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate you taking my call. When I signed up, I didn’t think I would get selected. I was like, “Wow, this is awesome.” So thank you.

Pat Flynn: Yeah, no, my pleasure. I really liked what you had to say and I guess to start, why don’t you introduce yourself to everybody who’s listening right now, and what do you do?

Melanie Bledsoe: Okay, great. My name is Melanie Bledsoe and I’m a CPA. I’m the owner of Bledsoe Consulting Services and I’ve been operating my business for two years now. So for my business I provide bookkeeping and tax services for small business owners, primarily in the Dallas area, but I am virtual so I do work with clients around the country. And I’ve been operating my business on the side for two years because I still currently work in a corporation. So I’m trying to make the move to be full time in my business.

Pat Flynn: Very cool. All businesses need tax services and accounting, so that’s a good industry to be in for sure. What would you say do you really enjoy about that?

Melanie Bledsoe: What I really love is educating the small business owners and connecting with my clients, because what I notice is that other CPAs, they may not have as much time to educate them, and so my clients will come to me and be like, “I really don’t understand this,” or you know, “I’ve never really gotten this point, so can you explain it to me?” And then when I explain it to them, then they’re able to make the changes they need in order to save money, increase profits, and decrease their taxes. So that’s what I really enjoy the most.

Pat Flynn: That’s awesome. And then last question before we dive in, is in terms of the kinds of businesses you’re servicing. I mean you said mostly in the Dallas area, but definitely all over. Is there a specific niche that kind of there’s more . . . like is it brick and mortar, is it online? Which sector?

Melanie Bledsoe: It’s more so service-based businesses, small entrepreneurs, up to s corps for the business structure, and then they can be online or have a brick and mortar but just as long as it’s a service base.

Pat Flynn: Got you. All right, awesome. So, related to all that, Melanie, what’s on your mind?

Melanie Bledsoe: Yes, so I love listening to podcasts and what I keep hearing as a recurring theme—either the host is offering coaching services or a mastermind group or they’ll have guests on who say, “Oh, that made the best impact on my business, is by hiring a coach or being a part of a mastermind.”

So my main question to you is: Is having a coach or being a part of a mastermind, is that something that’s truly necessary to be successful in business? Because as I’m making this transition from part-time to full-time, I don’t want to miss anything. So I’m wondering if I should hire a coach, or be a part of a mastermind group, if it’s a good use of my time and money.

Pat Flynn: Great question. In your mind, what do you feel is the benefit of having a coach or being a part of a mastermind group?

Melanie Bledsoe: I think the accountability aspect would be beneficial, and then also the one-on-one, like working with a business coach. I’m hoping that they would be able to help me to fill in any gaps that I may be missing, since this is my first time ever going out on my own. They’ll be able to see areas that I’m not thinking about. So, a second pair of eyes, and then I would like for a coach to be more experienced in running a business, so that they can help advise me on how to successfully operate a business.

Pat Flynn: Awesome, perfect answer. There is a big difference between a mastermind and a coach. And it’s really interesting, you’re right. I mean it’s kind of the buzz words right now. It has been for a while, to be in mastermind groups. I think one of the earliest forms of a mastermind group that I ever knew about was like, Andrew Carnegie way back in the day, in the steel industry. I mean, he even said that his group of cohorts around him were a lot smarter than him about things he didn’t know about. And that’s why he was able to succeed and become the richest man in the world at the time and donate the most money ever at the time. And it was because he was able to connect with other people who were, like you said, able to fill in those gaps that he had. And I’ve been a part of a mastermind group myself.

Not immediately when I started doing online business, but like you, I heard of this thing and I was like, “Man, that sounds great.” So I got involved and it was helpful. It was helpful, you’re right, for accountability. But it was also helpful, like you said, to get a second pair of eyes. But I will say that a coach is rather different. I never had a coach that I paid up until the last year. So, nine years into my business now. But I had virtual coaches, like people who were blogging and podcasting, and I considered them a coach even though they weren’t coaching me. I felt like they were speaking to me. And that was really helpful. I call those virtual coaches or virtual mentors, but I’ve since invested in a coach-coach to really dive into my business and help me make the decisions that I need to make.

That experience has been really interesting and really great, because they are coming at it specifically as if they own the business and this is what they would do too. And you only know what you know, right?

Melanie Bledsoe: Right.

Pat Flynn: Masterminds don’t have to be a paid thing and I think that if accountability is important, you don’t necessarily need to join a group that you have to pay for. Actually, both masterminds that I’m a part of right now, and I’ve been a part of for years now, are free. It’s just a group of people who I have a good connection with and I vibe with, and we all come from different industries.

But the biggest benefit is the accountability, but also getting the help when I’m just struggling and not just having one person, but multiple people kind of there. But in exchange for their help, for me, I’m there to help them too. It’s kind of like a King Arthur, Knights at the Round Table thing. There’s no one head of the table. We’re all there to kind of help each other and serve a bigger purpose.

And those people have become some of my best friends, and we go on retreats and that’s really fun, and I don’t want to let them down by slacking off. I feel like I am held accountable just by the fact that they’re there. And we meet once a week and we chat, and a person’s in the hot seat every week and that kind of format works really well for me.

Now, I have seen other people go into that format and it’s just not for them. It’s not for them because they literally want a person watching every move that they make and helping them make decisions, as opposed to just like once a month, “Hey, here’s the one thing that I’m going through right now. What do you all think?” And then other people just haven’t been able to connect with the right people either. Mastermind groups that work really well are typically five people or less.

More than that, it becomes a little bit . . . you don’t get the attention that you need. And sometimes it’s just one other person. I know some people who just have found one other person, so you may have one—if accountability is something that you need Melanie, there may be one person who . . . you don’t even need to have any money exchanges. Just essentially, “Hey, let’s get on a call once a week and you know, let’s just check in with each other.”

That could be enough for what you need. Other people, they do it via email, they email each other every week and just report to each other. And just that—it becomes a force function where just the fact that you’re reporting on something makes you consider how the business is going and what’s healthy. But of course there’s not as much of an exchange of, “Well here’s what you should do next,” versus a coach.

So my question to you would be, what do you need help with the most? And then maybe we can go from there to find a solution, if there is one that’s needed, and we can go from there. So what kinds of things do you feel like you need the most help with?

Melanie Bledsoe: I would say just like, the direction of my business. So, where should I put my focus as far as my services, my pricing; if I should create packages, or continue doing what I’m doing, which is more so packages on the tax side, but then hourly on the bookkeeping side. And then also just the mental part of it, of just mentally preparing. I’ve been in corporate America for twelve years now. So, just mentally preparing to say, “Okay, I’m going to be my own boss, and I’m going to be bringing in this income for myself, instead of relying on my employer.”

Pat Flynn: The mental thing is huge, right? Because if you don’t get through that nothing else really matters or can be done to its fullest extent. In terms of what you were saying earlier about just understanding what the things you need to do are, is that something that you feel like you would want somebody to continue to check you up on? Or do you feel like you would just need kind of like, some advice one time, where you could, for example, pay somebody or even just . . . I know a lot of people who have made major changes as a result of just simply taking a person out to dinner and you know, picking their brain.

Although you don’t want to be that person who’s just like that. But if there’s a value, like maybe there’s some tax related things that you can help this person out with, in exchange for thirty minutes of time to have them share what they feel about what you got going on. I mean, there’s many ways to do it. If that’s what you need, I would imagine that once you get going, you might just be off to the races, and you just might need a person to tell you, “Well, here’s how I would structure it, and this is what you do,” in which case it might be not a coach, but more so just a person you hire for advice, for one time even.

Melanie Bledsoe: Okay. So, I will say that I’ve had mentors before, like I started with Score.org and was able to get some free mentorships, but I realized that that wasn’t working because it was, you know, they’re volunteering their time. So, even if they’re giving me one on one mentorship, it wasn’t very consistent. It just wasn’t as personalized as I would prefer.

And so I think an ongoing type thing would probably be preferred because I mean, as you know, when you’re in a business it’s hard to just say, “Here are my problems in about ten or fifteen minutes,” and then somebody can give you some very valuable advice in such a short period of time. So I think an ongoing type relationship would be most valuable for me.

Pat Flynn: Describe your perfect coach in an ongoing relationship. What kinds of things would they be? Obviously, the answer would be, they would tell me everything I need to do and then everything’s perfect. But I mean, that relationship with that person, how often would you want to meet with them? What would that conversation that you have with them look like? I know some people, for example, who prefer coaches who literally just, “tell me what to do. I don’t want to have any discussions, just tell me.” And other people, they want to talk it out and have that kind of relationship. So tell me in your eyes, what is the perfect coach for you?

Melanie Bledsoe: I would like to work with a coach who, I correspond with them on a monthly basis. We have a call and address certain areas that I need help with.

Pat Flynn: What would those areas be? What would their superpowers be that they could offer for you?

Melanie Bledsoe: More so business strategy, I think more than anything. Yeah, because I feel like I’ve learned a lot on my own. I’m very self taught, and just being in a corporate world for so long, you pick up a lot of business information. So running a business, that type of thing. The basics—I don’t think I’ll need that.

It’s more so of the higher level. Like, “How can I get to the income that I’m making in my corporate job in my business? And how can I scale it and how can I niche down? What’s the best way to market? On which platforms, or how can I tweak the platforms that I’m using?” That type of thing.

Pat Flynn: Well, basically what we’re doing here Melanie, is we’re essentially creating our wishlist of who we want. That way, it helps you find that person. How much is this person worth to you? On a scale of one to ten, how much of a drive for you is it to find this person? Because I do feel like we’re leaning more towards the coaching aspect for what it is that you’re looking for, right? Does that seem right to you? Like we’re going kind of toward that direction versus a mastermind?

Melanie Bledsoe: It does, and now that you’ve mentioned it, I am part of like, an informal mastermind. I mean, it’s myself and three other ladies, and we’re all CPAs, and we have a Slack channel, and we meet monthly. So yeah, I guess with them it is a mastermind. Maybe we can just structure it more because it’s pretty—you know, we just chitchat.

Pat Flynn: Casually, yeah. I mean, you could structure it more. I’ve been a part of mastermind groups where we meet in person and we just chitchat and eat tacos the whole time and we get nothing done. There is something to be said for having a formal structure in there to get to those important things. So, perhaps that could be a first attempt to see if that gives you what you need, since that’s already there. I think I’m very encouraged by that.

The hard thing about that—because there’s four people involved—is everybody needs to be on board. Everybody needs to contribute and understand why that formality is there. And if they’re all on board, you can give that a shot before making a decision to go and find a coach. Likely, if you were to find a coach, you would have to, for what you’re looking for, pay somebody. How much would you be willing to pay them?

And you don’t necessarily have to answer this straightaway and publicly here, because it may need some thinking, but I want you to just consider how much that information would be worth to you, so that when you do research various coaches out there, or you reach out to somebody to see if they even offer this, you’re not surprised by the price or you understand if it’s a good deal. Too often people will go like, “Hey, I want to coach,” and then a coach will be like, “Yeah, well it’ll cost $5,000 a month to work with me.”

And then the immediate reaction is, “That’s ridiculous.” But then some people, they don’t understand what that person could actually bring, and that person’s likely charging premium because of the things they could bring too. So, I just want you to think about that so that you have a price range and that you’re not surprised, or you at least have a defining thing that allows you to just quickly say yes or no, or at least be able to negotiate from there. Does that make sense?

Melanie Bledsoe: It does. And I have been researching some different coaches and you’re right, like the ongoing—it’s around that price range. And I know I wouldn’t be able to afford $5,000 right outside the gate just for coaching, with me launching my business on my own. So, yeah, that would be out.

Pat Flynn: The cool thing is you’re approaching them, and you can negotiate any which way you want for what you need. So maybe they don’t—maybe it’s just out of the realm right now to pay that much, but maybe for $1,000, for one time, you get all the things you need and you know, there’s practical advice that you can use moving forward that’s valuable. And then, potentially with ongoing coaching, after things start working, I don’t know. Again, you can structure it any which way you want. Or maybe in exchange for some bookkeeping or whatnot, you can get some ongoing advice too. I mean, you have a super power that a lot of business owners do not have and you could use that to your advantage as well.

Melanie Bledsoe: Okay. That’s a good point.

Pat Flynn: So where to go from here? What’s on your mind right now? What is now made a little bit more clear to you?

Melanie Bledsoe: Well, I definitely want a business coach. I think my next question would be, how long typically would you work with a business coach? Like, how do you know when your time is done or is it something that’s an ongoing expense for the duration of your business life? I mean, I don’t know about that.

Pat Flynn: Yeah, again, it can be structured any which way, right? There’s no right or wrong, and I think it depends on what you want and also what other people offer. I know some people who structure ninety-day things, so that they have like two or three check-ins every thirty days. And they have a very specific goal that is achievable by the end of ninety days. That’s a very popular sort of timeframe. Just a quarter.

Other coaches will ask for a whole year. And others will just do the one-and-done kind of deal. So it’s really up to you and what you’re looking for. So, the question to bring back to you, it’d be, “Well how long would you want to work with this person?” In your mind, what would be perfect for you? Short term, ongoing, longterm? And again, these are questions that you don’t have to answer on the fly right now, but you’d want to know the answers so that when you approach these coaches and they ask you or they offer you something, you can see if that fits into what you’re looking for and then it either works or it doesn’t.

Melanie Bledsoe: Okay. Yeah, that’s something to consider for sure.

Pat Flynn: Cool. And then the other thing would be to reach out to these people who you’ve considered asking and just go from there. I have coached a lot of people, and I’ve suggested they get coaches, but they’re afraid to take that first step. And I would just encourage you to spend some time in the near future to just reach out and begin to start to have these conversations. We could talk all day about this. You’re going to learn the most by just doing and being forced to make decisions. And I think that’s going to teach you more than anything.

Melanie Bledsoe: Okay.

Pat Flynn: What are you thinking right now?

Melanie Bledsoe: I think that’s a good plan of action, to just feel it out, and I guess I just felt a lot of pressure just by listening and hearing other people and how they’ve experienced so much success. I was like, “I want that success.”

Pat Flynn: They’re telling you the good parts, right? And they all have likely gone through a period before finding that coach, or joining that mastermind group, or making that move in their business, that helped them get their success. You’re on your way and you’re actively looking to grow. You’re actively looking for the right solutions, which is a lot more than I can say about a lot of people who are in business. And that’s really encouraging.

So you will have your own story to tell in a very similar way, and maybe it’s the coach that you hire that makes it happen, or maybe not. But you are actively pursuing success, which is really important. You’re being smart about it, and you know that you don’t know everything and that there are other people out there who can help fill in those gaps, which is really great. So you don’t have to join the bandwagon, but I would say make those decisions based on your needs.

Melanie Bledsoe: Yeah. I think that’s really good advice. Thank you.

Pat Flynn: Yeah, you’re welcome. Because I mean, you could listen to all these podcasts, and if you’re not doing it already you can start journaling tomorrow, and then you can meditate, and then you can start doing minimalism all at the same time, right? If they don’t fit your needs, then don’t do them right now just because everybody else is talking about them. But I think the coach thing is great, that these podcasts have planted the seed for you. Now you can kind of explore it and see if it’s right for you. And it seems like it could be the perfect thing that you need for next steps for you. So that’s great.

Do you mind if we check up on you in a few months to see how things go? I think this will be an interesting follow-up episode, if you’d be willing to come on and talk about kind of what happened from here, and perhaps who you found, or lessons learned. Would that be okay?

Melanie Bledsoe: Absolutely, because I think by then I’ll be full-time. So, I’ll be able to share with you my journey the last few months of making the switch.

Pat Flynn: Awesome. I love it. We’re about to start recording follow-up episodes now since we’ve started the beginning of the year, and I’m really excited to just see who took action and yeah, we’ll do the same for you too, Melanie. So thank you so much. Where can people go and find more information from you? Maybe they need some bookkeeping services or something. Where can they go?

Melanie Bledsoe: BledsoeConsultingServices.com, and I also like to hang out on Instagram @BledsoeConsultingServices.

Pat Flynn: Perfect. Thank you, Melanie. We appreciate you, and good luck.

Melanie Bledsoe: Thank you so much, Pat. I appreciate it.

Pat Flynn: All right, I hope you enjoyed that episode with Melanie. Melanie, thank you for coming in and asking a question. If those of you who are listening also want to get coached just like Melanie, all you have to do is go to AskPat.com. Fill out the application right there in the middle of that page and I might select you for some coaching here. Now, whether or not you get selected, I would definitely recommend you look and see if a coach and/or a mastermind group would be right for you, just like we talked about today.

And lastly, I just want to wish you all the best of luck, and if you just have like a minute, just one minute, if you’ve listened to the show before, you enjoy the conversations that we have here, you’re getting a lot of value out of it—one thing you can do for me really quick, is if you go to iTunes—it doesn’t matter where you listen from. If you go to iTunes, you can leave a review for the show, an honest review, and I’d love to see it. I’d love to read your review, and thank you in advance for that.

It really helps out because new people come, they go, “Who’s this Pat guy? I wonder if I should listen to this.” You can help convince them that this is a show to listen to, or not a show to listen to, if you’re all the way through this and you’re like, “I don’t really get it.” But anyway, I appreciate you all for your honest feedback.

Thanks, and I look forward to serving you next week when we talk with Emory about monetizing a hobby website, and how they could actually do that. So you’ll have to stick around and listen in. Make sure you subscribe. Thanks guys. Bye.

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