Do you have an accountability partner?
Having a great strategy or business model is only part of the process of building a successful business. You need someone to help keep you accountable and push you on your journey. Your accountability partner is the person(s) that keeps you moving forward, tells you when you mess up, looks out for you when you are venturing into new territory, and offers a different (objective) perspective. That can be a single person, a group of people, or even an online community.
In this post you see the 5 most important things you need to look for in an accountability partner.
One quick clarification - this is about finding an accountability partner for your business. There are lots of versions of "accountability partners" that run a spectrum of interpersonal needs and various configurations, I will be covering exactly none of those.
1. Empathy + Commitment.
You need to find someone who understands your story. They might not have to agree with your values or your core “why” but they have to acknowledge that what your business is doing is important. The same goes for you strategy and why you are looking for someone to help you stay accountable. They have to be committed to helping you take the actions and make the choices you need to make to grow your business. It will definitely be less than helpful if your accountability partner isn’t reliable in providing you feedback and constructive advice. Kind of defeats the purpose.
They need to be challenging. What I mean by challenging is that they will do their best to ask you the hard questions about how you are moving your business forward. That doesn’t mean they have to question each and every piece of your strategic framework but a good accountability partner will not let you slip on deadlines or deliverables without a fight. Remember you asked them to help keep you in check because you needed some help with your accountability - try not to lash out when they are holding you to it!
3. Open and earnest conversation.
Your accountability partner needs to get to know you a little bit. It’s important to have conversations around what motivates you, any weaknesses you have, and what your goals are for this relationship. Trust is a big part of this so make sure the person you choose is comfortable with having these conversations with you. You also need to set expectations early on for everyone involved because this about helping you take action in your business and you are leaning on someone that is potentially on the outside for help.
4. Decide on metrics.
My all time favorite saying is - What gets measured, gets managed. This absolutely applies here too! You are getting someone to help keep you accountable, it’s important that you are tracking your successes and failures so that your accountability partner knows how to best motivate you. Deciding on metrics includes deciding on how frequently they will be checking in on you too. You should be setting times to meet or chat regularly with preset metrics you are working on so that you can report efficiently and work on the things you need the most help with.
5. Take responsibility.
As a business owner it can be almost too easy to blame your business woes on any number of externalities. That has to stop. Unless there is an absolute market meltdown you have a lot of power in how your business is perceived and the responses you make to what’s going on in the economy around you. Successful strategy is about choices and allocating resources. It’s about taking action and measuring results. It’s about iteration. Those are all things you can take responsibility for and it’s how your accountability partner is going to push you to being a better business owner.
Everything in this post can be applied to what you might be looking for in an accountability partner or even mentor. If you are a part of a larger organization and are working on your department's strategy look for some senior leadership or even a colleague to help you up your implementation game. Accountability partners can be an amazing resource and you shouldn’t think that having one means you are showing weakness. If it says anything at all, having an someone to help make you better can only be seen as a strength.
If you are struggling to find someone you can trust feel free to reach out to me! I am always willing to help entrepreneurs that want to get better.