Who supports you?

In one of the mastermind groups I participate in, we recently discussed about the presentations we could give on WordCamps. One idea was to talk about the various people that surround and help us.

There are different situations; each might need someone else to help you navigate them. Finding the right situation-supporter match is the real art here.

Mastermind groups and peers

Let’s start with mastermind groups since this topic came up in one of them.

As I understand it, a mastermind group is a group of peers in a similar situation. They meet regularly and talk about things. It differs on how often they do this or how they structure these meetings. A number of three to five people seems optimal so that everyone has a chance to speak up.

I am a member of three mastermind groups. Chronologically, these are

  • A group around personal finances.
  • A group of other German WordPress plugin developers and business owners.
  • An international group of WordPress plugin business people.

Mastermind groups don’t magically happen. I actively started one of the above-mentioned by reaching out to potential members. None of the future members ever participated in such a group.

All members of a mastermind group give and take. We are a support group without a hierarchy.

Instead of starting a mastermind group, you can spontaneously reach out to people you know – or connect to new people – and ask them for their feedback in certain situations.


Coaches are there to help you navigate the waters. They give advice and ask questions from their experience with many clients. These could be business coaches as well as mental coaches and therapists.

I wasn’t able to make good use of coaches yet. That might be because I am too impatient. In an ideal world, I would go into a meeting with a coach and go out with less work and ideas. In reality, it is often the opposite.

If I were looking for a coach in a certain situation, I would search for someone who helped multiple clients in similar situations, and most of them would recommend them.


While I expect a coach to have experience with multiple similar clients and get paid for his work, a Mentor can be a peer who personally went through my situation at least once.

Mentors can get paid, e.g., by becoming a business angel owning a small percentage, or just occasional lunch. So far, I have only had unpaid mentors.

While a coach is a paid consultant making a living from that work, a Mentor is, ideally, another entrepreneur who already went through my situation.

I had a couple of mentors in the last ten years. While we didn’t have many or long meetings, I learned a lot. Part of a mentor’s magic is knowing they had already gone through it. That gives their advice a lot more weight.

By now, I am a mentor, helping mostly local online businesses get off the ground with practical decisions. I prefer not to be involved financially; a free lunch is much appreciated.


With contractors, I mean someone who is not an employee helping you with some practical work. The latter is also what differentiates them from coaches, who help more in an abstract way.

As a developer, I am used to fixing everything myself.

I try to be more pragmatic now and rather ask for help than lose hours trying to figure out something independently.

When I recently had an issue with my local server. Remembering the above and with no colleague, I went to Codementor to find someone who could help me. Within an hour, my issue was fixed.


Lucky are those who have a spouse that supports them. I am.

While my wife is not business-savvy, she is there to discuss things with me. She has my back when I have to spend more time at work.

Sharing my current state with her helps her cope when I react nervously or tensely.