So you’ve been in the online business world for a little while now.

You’re starting to finally feel comfortable calling yourself an experienced professional as a business owner. And maybe you’re starting to consider sharing your expertise with others, and also desire to be in community with others operating at your level.

(Remember, you don’t have to know everything about your field in order to be a thought leader and contributor to the larger conversation happening in your industry!)

When it comes to sharing your business expertise there are two common ways to do this: Either running a group coaching program or a mastermind program.

Both options are great…which sometimes makes it harder to choose between the two!

But don’t sweat it. In this guide, we’re breaking down the difference between Masterminds and Group Coaching, so you can confidently decide which option is best for your business.

Without further ado, let’s dive in! 👇

Mastermind vs. Group Coaching Program: The Basic Differences

Deciding between a mastermind or a group coaching program requires you to identify your unique goals. This isn’t about creating a new offer because you think you should or because that’s what’s been shown all over Instagram.

The real impact comes from creating a program in a way that truly fits your capabilities and desires for your business in 2024 and beyond.

Yes, we’ll get into the smaller details. But for now, remember that the “mastermind vs. group coaching” conversation involves these basic differences:

  • Different online deliverables
  • Different clients, students, or participants — whatever you like to call your people!
  • Different roles as the program facilitator
  • Different program structures

Shall we go deeper? First up: mastermind program!

What Is a Mastermind Program?

So, how is a mastermind different from a group coaching program?

A mastermind group is essentially a group of people (generally about 5-20 members) who share the same values, come from similar or related backgrounds, and/or have the same goal in mind.

The purpose of the mastermind is to provide peer support between members, brainstorm ideas, and offer a safe space for communication. In other words, it’s a business development group.

Some facilitators (the individual responsible for organizing the group and facilitating the mastermind) create a business offering based on the concept of a mastermind and charge for membership in the mastermind typically for a set period of time (one year is common).

Some mastermind groups are peer-led, curated, and do not charge admission into the mastermind group. Instead, all individuals commit to attending the meetings and contributing to the collective if they desire to be a part of the group for the term.

If that’s not what you had in mind your area of expertise or area of desired growth, no problem.

A group coaching program might be the way to go instead, if you are wanting to create a group offer, with you as the facilitator and primary instructor.

But if business development is exactly what you’re looking for, a mastermind might be a fit for you!

What Is Your Role as a Mastermind Host?

When starting a mastermind, you need to carefully curate a group of people who are professionals that:

  • Operate at a common level
  • Share common values
  • Want to join a supportive community with a common purpose

And most importantly, your mastermind needs to be full of pros who are seeking to grow and develop themselves personally and professionally.

Masterminds may not have a specific curriculum. Instead of having a specific framework prepared, the facilitator (possibly you) is responsible for determining an overarching philosophy or goal to guide the topics of discussion within the group, as well as facilitating hot seat coaching for members of the mastermind group. (more on hot seat coaching below!)

The facilitator has a very different role than a group coach.

The mastermind facilitator is responsible for creating an environment where each participant feels accountable to the group — to show up, contribute, and help one another grow.

Your job as the facilitator of a mastermind is to invite members to bring their unique perspectives, expertise, and knowledge to the community.

You are not *teaching* in the way a group program instructor would.

What we mean is…participants of a group coaching program are on the receiving end of knowledge, wisdom, and experiences provided by the educator, trainer, or coach.

But with a mastermind, it’s really about giving and receiving to build strong mutual relationships.

What Is the Structure of a Mastermind Program?

Because of the focus on group dynamics, mastermind groups are typically smaller than group coaching programs. However, this depends on the volume of participants enrolled in the group program.

As mentioned, mastermind groups range from three to 20 participants. The mastermind members agree to a regularly scheduled meeting, 2 to 4 times each month.

Hot seat coaching is perhaps the most valuable part of the experience for each individual member — the opportunity to get the group’s laser focus on a topic or issue you agree to experience, with all members brainstorming alongside you and talking through the subject.

From this can come a fresh perspective, shared lessons learned that may be helpful in that instance, recommendations or referrals to support, and more.

Many mastermind programs do have some kind of in-person component or retreat. This is because of the intense and intimate nature of working in such a tight-knit group for an extended period of time. It truly helps and is major fun to share a space and get to meet your business besties IRL.

While this is a common part of mastermind programs these days, it’s not mandatory.

Now, let’s shift and take a look at group coaching!

What Is a Group Coaching Program?

The guiding principle of a group coaching program is that all the participants within the program hope to achieve a specific result or transformation.

This transformation is facilitated by a group coach who provides a guiding curriculum or framework for the program, taking participants step by step through a program curriculum. This curriculum and content are carefully crafted to support the participants in achieving their desired results.

Let’s be clear: A group coaching program many times has a single group coach. But that certainly does not mean you have to lead the group by yourself if you’re thinking about starting one.

Of course, you can always invite and hire trusted colleagues to be guest instructors or coaches within your program.

As your client roster grows, it is best practice to hire an associate coach to support your clients so that they are well-supported and you aren’t spread too thin!

What Is Your Role as a Group Coach?

The group coach is responsible for providing their clients with coaching and guidance toward collective and individual goals.

To support this process, the group coach often creates content or training that can be consumed during coaching sessions and/or during clients’ non-coaching call time.

This educational content can come in written format, audio format, or video format. Sometimes it’s delivered live, sometimes it’s pre-recorded. This depends on the plans of the facilitator and how they intend to deliver any educational content to participants.

The most important part of group coaching content is that it is always in alignment with the guiding curriculum necessary for the desired transformation of the clients.

What Is the Structure of a Group Coaching Program?

A group coaching program can range from as few as three clients to hundreds of participants enrolled at any given time.

Plus, enrollment can be quite flexible!

For example, you might choose to operate using a cohort model. This model puts a limit on your enrollment periods. So that the live coaching sessions and content are shared over a specific period of time to a group collectively.

On the other hand, you might be more interested in the rolling enrollment model. Rolling enrollment allows participants to join at any time and work through the curriculum on any dates they want.

The facilitator then schedules regular live coaching calls to be used for instruction by the facilitator and hot seat coaching for each member, which is a great opportunity to work through the different blocks in achieving the client’s desired result.

Group coaching programs may or may not have in-person events or retreats, but they are becoming quite popular and many group programs offer an in-person event to cap off the program.

Participants often crave that kind of connection to take their learning to the next level, and it’s always fun for instructors to meet the people who are on this journey with them.

Group coaching programs are flexible, versatile, and can cover a vast range of personal and professional topics.

No matter your expertise, there is a model of group coaching out there that can work for you!

Like Napoleon Hill once said, “If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way.”

Mastermind vs. Group Coaching: Creating the Right Program

As you can see, there are tons of exciting experiences within both group coaching programs and mastermind programs.

A group coaching program gives participants the chance to receive knowledge, wisdom, and curated content from the lead coach.

On the other hand, a mastermind group accelerates each member’s growth by drawing upon collective experiences, wisdom, professional networks, and influence. It’s truly a team effort!

Our hope is that you are starting to lean toward one or the other. But if you’re still torn, you’re in luck! It’s becoming more and more popular to host hybrid masterminds.

What Is a Hybrid Mastermind?

Hybrid masterminds maintain a certain level of intimacy while relying more heavily on the facilitator to create content for the participants and implement a group framework.

This blend of coaching and mastermind facilitating gives clients the best of both worlds!

Regardless of which of these two great options you end up choosing, you’ll need one important thing before starting to work with clients.

And that is… contracts!

Luckily, we’ve got you covered in that department. 😉

Head on over to our Contract Shop to purchase your very own customizable, lawyer-approved contract templates, all designed with online business in mind.

Let us take care of the legal stuff so you can focus on sharing your genius with your clients!

Check out our ready-to-use, lawyer-approved, plug-and-play legal contract templates, so you can upgrade your client contract while staying Protected & Profitable™✨

Not sure where to begin? We’ve got you. Grab our FREE Legally Launch Guide to get the legal lowdown on everything in entrepreneurship, without the confusing mumbo jumbo. We’re serving it up straight and to the point. (Heads up: It’ll forever transform the way you view your client relationships!) Grab your copy now!

*The information presented in this blog post is for educational & informational purposes only. This should not be a substitute for customized legal advice from a licensed professional in a private setting. If you need legal advice, please consult with an attorney. This is not a law firm.

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