Last week we looked at How Accountability Will Help You Reach Your Goals and the importance of having accountability, particularly when you’re an independent professional. We identified that when surrounded by a multitude of distractions, being accountable (to a partner or group) helps you focus on the most important tasks so that you can stay on track and reach your goals.
So how do we go about finding the perfect accountability partner, and how can we make the most of the relationship?
The Different Types of Accountability Partners
In general, accountability in small businesses comes in one of the following forms:
- An Accountability Partner / Business Development Consultant is an external adviser who will work with you on business development and implementation, and can help to define your goals and keep you on track.
Linda Galindo, author of The 85% Solution: How Personal Accountability Guarantees Success (Jossey-Bass 2009), describes accountability partners as an entrepreneur's secret weapon for quick growth and says “Working with a partner prevents the ready-fire-aim approach that a lot of entrepreneurs use”.
- One of your peers - working together with another business owner as each other’s accountability partner is an excellent way for both businesses to develop through feedback and support
- A Mastermind Group is a gathering of like-minded business owners who meet regularly and who, as well as sharing their successes, are willing to reveal their vulnerabilities by offering details of the challenges they face. The benefit being that the group help each other gain fresh perspective, uncover blind spots and gain from each other’s experience.
Where to Find the Perfect Partner or Group
- Places where you meet other business owners, such as at Chamber of Commerce events or networking groups, are a great source of potential accountability partners/business development consultants.
- When looking for a peer to peer arrangement, Galindo suggests looking for someone within your community but outside of your industry. The shared community will help you create a really strong relationship, whilst being in a different field will help you gain a completely fresh perspective on your business.
- There are a number of organisations, such as the Entrepreneur’s Circle, that include accountability as part of their membership offering, or a simple search on Google will bring up a long list of organisations providing the service.
How to Get the Best Out of our Accountability Partner / Group
- Agree how often to meet, for how long and whether it will be in person, Skype, email or the phone.
- Don’t cancel or miss meetings. If you’re part of a group then you’ll probably have a set schedule that will go ahead whether you’re there or not, but you’ll need to make a point not to put other things first if you really want to benefit from the group and grow your business.
If you’re working as a couple it’s tempting to move your meetings around and even cancel when things get busy, but try remember that part of the reason for accountability is to keep you working ‘on’ your business and not just ‘in’ it.
- Be clear about your expectations from the partner or group; sometimes you might want them to listen and other times need their input.
- Be clear that you are 100% responsible for your choices and actions, whether you decide to take the advice given or not.
- Be prepared to be completely honest in order to reap the most benefit from the help given. After all, if not, the only person you are cheating is you.
- Decide on a particular goal and break it down into steps that you can report on at each meeting, to help you move towards success.
- Spend some time thinking about your business; where it is and where you want it to be. Thoughts might be around:
- Who is your ideal client?
- What is your unique selling point?
- What are your specific short term development goals?
- What programmes or services do you have to help you reach your goals?
- What marketing strategies are you using to bring in clients?
- Which activities do you prefer to spend your time on and which do you procrastinate over the most?
- What are you spending most of your time and energy on in your business?
- Agree what the consequences will be of not meeting your agreed goals. Apart from obviously not moving your business forward; you may feel a sense of guilt, failure, or overwhelm. This is the beauty of accountability; the simple fear of being seen to be failing will drive you forward to get things done.
Pulling it All Together
Follow the steps below to find your perfect accountability partner / group:
- Decide which type of accountability partner will suit you best
- Do your research to find the perfect partner
- Agree the parameters for your meetings
- Think about your business and goals before you begin
- Be completely honest and accept that you are 100% responsible for your decisions
- And finally - Enjoy the success that having an accountability partner will bring.
Do you agree that having accountability is important to help keep you and your business focused and on track? I'd love to hear your thoughts.
About the Author:
Claire White specialises in helping independent consultants free up their time, develop their business and stay on track for success, by providing advice, implementation skills and accountability. Contact Claire on firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.clairewhite.co.uk.
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