Without personal accountability, most small business owners will fail quickly. Sure, you can go out and be your boss. That’s easy. However, getting the right things done to grow your business requires accountability.
Starting this July I will be facilitating two peer advisory groups for small business owners. If you are interested in being part of a community designed to support you with unbiased advice, a team of equals, and next level accountability please schedule a time to connect.
And it’s one thing to hold your people accountable. I’ve written about that before. But if you don’t hold yourself responsible and deliver on what you commit to, you will lose the team. If you can’t do what you said you will, you lose any moral authority in your leadership.
So, building an accountability mindset is a high-stakes game. You will develop your business faster and achieve your financial and professional goals with less resistance when you do it right. Does that sound good? Then let’s walk through three critical steps to get started.
Vision – The First Step Accountability
Small business owners start with an idea; they know the kind of work they want to do. They see a problem that needs to be solved and believe they are uniquely suited to solve it. So, they begin the task of “doing” that business.
The first step in developing personal accountability is to know what you will be accountable for. And too often, critical questions go unanswered like:
- What kind of business are you building?
- What will it look like in three to five years?
- How many customers will you serve?
- How much revenue will you generate annually?
- How many employees will you have?
Now that you know what must be achieved, you can think about how you will measure it. And with that, you begin to create objectives. Many business objectives are annual, and rightly so. Those annual objectives drive your monthly activities, which propel your weekly tasks and your daily activities.
And we don’t just set the numbers and forget about them. At least monthly, you will need to check your progress against these numbers. At peak form, you are looking at actual versus plan versus the prior year. And hold yourself accountable for that performance.
And if you aren’t hitting your plan, you will want to know why? Did you get distracted? Did the external environment change. Or did you get a windfall? Underperforming or outperforming, being accountable means you understand why.
Building Personal Accountability
With vision and objectives in place, you have shifted your mindset to the long game. And every day, for at least some part of it, business owners need to commit to looking at that long game. It’s so easy to allow yourself to get caught up in tactical duties and urgent, but not always essential, tasks. And when you focus there, it’s so easy to feel accomplished. You will have worked hard and crossed a lot off your list, but you have not paid any attention to your long-term vision or your objectives for your business.
It would be best if you had a mindset that the long term matters as much as the short term. And believe that the long-term vision is what you are accountable for, more so than the short-term duties in front of you. At the beginning of your business, this can be incredibly hard, but you must keep an eye on the future to build the company you want, not the one you currently have.
Accountability is Hard When You’re Alone
When your business has grown significantly, you can consider improving accountability through a board of advisors for your business. But in the early days of your business, that will not be an option. But you may find that no matter how hard you try, you need something more to keep you accountable.
One idea is to find someone else who is building their business and ask them to be a 1:1 accountability partner. Someone you share your goals with and who holds you accountable to them. You meet regularly and check in on progress.
Creating a group of small business owners who check in each month is a powerful tool for accountability and success. It combines the benefits of having an accountability partner and a board of advisors. It allows you to surround yourself with a group of like-minded people whose only interest in that session is holding each other accountable for their success.
Finally, you can hire an executive coach to support you in developing accountability for delivering on your goals and priorities. A coach can be that genuinely independent voice in your life. The one person whose only interest is your continued success. And that is a hard thing to find.
Accountability is a cornerstone of business success. If you have created a clear vision for your business, set appropriate objectives, and crafted the right mindset, you dramatically improve your chances of success. You can further refine your odds by surrounding yourself with a group of business owners who hold you and each other accountable.
This July I am starting two peer advisory groups for small business owners. If you are interested in joining please schedule a time to connect.