The great joy of entrepreneurship is that you are your own boss. You no longer have a CEO, CFO or COO breathing down your neck and micromanaging your day. Having no boss is the upside of being an entrepreneur, but if you lack accountability, it could also be the downside. Even the most sage of entrepreneurs has discovered that, sometimes, we all need a little help from a friend.
Accountability is one of those critical skills that everybody needs to function well, regardless of whether you’re an employee, a business leader or an entrepreneur. Without accountability, we are unlikely to reach goals, stick to the task at hand, and have the ability to admit when things go wrong.
There are many reasons why accountability is critical for an entrepreneur. In the early stages of a startup, there are many opportunities to consider. As good as it sounds, opportunities can equal distraction. There is the endless supply of new technology and innovation to investigate chewing up valuable time. There are new processes and structures to pursue, R&D, and exploring suggestions from well-meaning friends or random experts. Without having accountability of your time and clear goals, these ‘opportunities’ can easily turn into days, weeks or months down the rabbit hole.
So, How do you Foster Your Own Accountability?
Ditch the Blame
People who are accountable are, as the name suggests, willing to take accountability for their actions. They are not prone to blaming others when things go wrong. The buck stops with you, and if you want to make progress and achieve those lofty business goals you have, you need to do the work, and you need to do it within the timeframes you have set. And if you miss the goals, you only have yourself to blame. It may hurt a bit, but it’s effective.
Say it Out Loud
Have you ever told a friend you’ll do something for them and then failed to deliver? Depending on your friend, you may get a good telling off or worse, the silent treatment. Either way, it’s hard to avoid their disappointment and the disappointment you have in yourself. A simple way to establish accountability when you’re on your own is to proclaim your goals to the world. There is nothing like the pressure of performing in front of friends, peers or mentors to kick start action. You may post regular updates to your customers on social media and blog posts, or you may meet up with a mentor, a business group or an accountability partner to check in on your progress.
Get an Accountability Partner
Read anything about accountability and you will find that the number one piece of advice for creating accountability is to find an accountability partner. You are far more likely to give a task urgency when someone else expects something of you. If you’ve told someone you are going to accomplish a goal, it’s amazing what you’ll do to fulfill that expectation.
So, How do You Find a Good Accountability Partner?
- Don’t go for someone you have a close personal relationship with. It may be too easy for them to let you off the hook.
- Work with someone who knows enough about your business and your industry to know if you are making excuses or not trying hard enough.
- Work with someone who is genuinely invested in your success and isn’t afraid to give you a shake up if you’re not doing what you said you would.
- Choose a partner who can motivate you.
- You should be able to meet or call your accountability at the same time each week, or month, or whatever you decide. Just make it consistent and make it non-negotiable.
Establishing a culture of accountability at the early stages of your startup gives your business a solid foundation for long-term accountability success. And when your business has grown and you have a team working for you, it doesn’t mean you get to let your accountability slide. You are now in the position of accountability role model. If you want your staff to get tasks done when you asked for it, then make sure there is an accountability culture in place and it’s more likely to happen.
The Benefits of an Accountability Culture
Once the culture of accountability is firmly entrenched within an organisation, life becomes much easier for you as the leader. You know that if you ask someone to do a task, it will be done. You can count on your employees while you get on with higher-level business decisions and strategy. Accountability develops a fair workplace where everyone is doing their fair share of the work.
You will continue to be a role model as long as your business thrives. Resist the temptation to blame your employees for business failures. It would be a foolish leader who takes credit for success but then blames others for failure. Being accountable requires you to accept responsibility for defeat and recognise the success of your team when it’s due. Acknowledging those who have helped you achieve is vital to ongoing growth and success.
Are you accountable? Is there anyone around to check if you are? If you find it easy to trick yourself into believing you’re doing as well as you can, then perhaps it’s time you called in some outside observation.