We are starting a new blog series featuring small business owners in multiple niches and industries. It is our aim to help facilitate connections and raise the visibility of small business owners around the globe. COVID-19 caused many small businesses to pivot and retool to sustain a profitable business. Sharing lessons learned will strengthen us all!
Today we’re excited to introduce you to
small-business owner, Harland Merriam. Harland is the facilitator of small groups of business leaders who are growing their businesses, deepening their relationships, and strengthening their personal lives.
These small mastermind groups of under a dozen people create a team of like-minded peers to support and challenge each other to create more income, build vitality into their families, and develop healthier lifestyles.
We declare specific plans and commit to taking effective action so we can become who we want to be. We hold each other accountable, week after week, speaking the truth in love to one another.
We realize isolation doesn't work. We call our groups "Cord of Three Strands" after a text in Ecclesiastes 4:12, which states "a cord of three strands is not easily broken."
What is the WHY behind your business? What motivated you to get started?
Over the past 40 plus years as a pastor and military chaplain, I have walked alongside so many people who were trying to do life alone. Now that I am not serving congregations or military units, I find great purpose and pleasure in connecting people with growth-desiring peers to join them in their journey and help them get to their destination better and sooner.
Did COVID impact your business? If yes, how did you pivot and overcome the challenges?
With the masterminding groups, Covid-19 meant we couldn't meet in person for quite a while. We have shifted to online meetings which are working quite well. As things opened up we still meet every six months, for a live event, in person, but are continuing our virtual meetings. This is saving us time and allowing us to include people from other locations.
What lessons did you learn that made your business more resilient and sustainable?
Three lessons I have learned in launching and maintaining these mastermind groups are making it about the other person and their needs, writing down clear processes, and making adjustments.
First, when I keep the focus on the other people who are potential members, I can listen and learn and help them see if this is a good fit for them. It is not about selling. It is about serving.
Second, facilitating these mastermind groups involves a large number of different steps, from letting others know what is available, onboarding new members, communicating with the members, calling and texting to keep bringing value between meetings, planning the live events, payments and accounting, and record-keeping... When I take the time to pause, write specific steps, create systems and document them, I save a lot of time and reduce the stress of the ongoing leadership.
Every mastermind group is different. Each of the members is different. We have a well thought and proven structure and rhythm, but as I pay attention and learn from the members, we make small pivots and make the experience even more powerful.
Who do you serve and how do you help them? (what problem do you solve?)
At this time I primarily serve Christian men who are involved in real estate investing. We solve whole-person problems they are facing. Some call it life balance. We pay attention to business problems, relationship problems, and personal life problems. If one is not working, the other two suffer.
Business. We learn from each other how to find properties, talk with sellers, structure deals, secure funding, learn about suppliers and sub-contractors. We are trying to grow our businesses and increase our income.
Relationships. We build enough trust to talk about relationship problems, such as with a spouse or with children or with a partner at work.
Personal Life. We also challenge each other personally with our healthier eating, getting adequate exercise, releasing weight, reading helpful books, volunteering in our communities...
In all three areas of our life, we support and challenge each other every week. We set 12-week goals and develop specific weekly plans for accomplishing those goals. We raise questions with each other and brainstorm solutions together. We pray for each other. We hold ourselves and each other for following through on our commitments.
Why/How did you select this niche?
I have been masterminding with people even before I knew the name "masterminding."
In the military, a group of peers on staff would regularly confront problems each of us was having, share ideas and connections and experiences and perspectives, and get to solutions so we could accomplish our mission. We did the same in the congregations I served. Life is about relationships, people, and working together.
After reading and experiencing some well-run masterminds and learning from leaders with years of experience, I realized this fits exactly with my gifts and brings so much personal pleasure.
I love seeing lives transformed, people confronting their roadblocks and blind spots, and moving up to a higher level of living.
What types of programs do you offer?
In addition to the small mastermind groups, I provide one-on-one coaching when it is best for an individual, both broad "life coaching" and more specific "business coaching." I also run a few roundtables or meetup-type groups primarily for real estate investors. But, the small mastermind groups are the sweet spot for me.