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Accountability for business owners is essential to create a thriving company for your team and yourself.
This is because accountability drives results—it leads to improved efficiency and accuracy of work, a more positive response to role responsibilities, better problem-solving abilities, decision-making, and increased team spirit and satisfaction.
I’ve met many small to mid-sized business owners who like the idea of being a tropical palm tree, swaying where the breeze blows them. And there’s a strong chance that one of the reasons you started your own business is because you were tired of other people holding you accountable. But all business owners have accountabilities, whether they realize it or not.
What I mean is, you currently have a set of tasks that are non-negotiable—either you do them, or you don’t have a business anymore. For example, you are accountable for hiring and managing your employees, building and maintaining a relationship with your customers and clients, managing your cash flow, ensuring your taxes get filed each year, and so on.
The question is, who is holding you accountable for your growth and success?
As a business coach, many business owners find their way to me, thinking they need help with marketing, sales, or exit strategies. But what usually transpires is that they need someone to help them get things done. They need someone to hold them accountable—what they’re really looking for is coaching.
In this article, I’ll be exploring the importance of creating a culture of accountability in your business and how to establish that all-important accountability with yourself to ensure you’re on track with your own goals and dreams.
What does accountability for business Owners mean?
In a nutshell, accountability in business centers on honoring a commitment (made to yourself or others), delivering on that promise, and ensuring what you said you would do gets done.
Responsibility refers to tasks, whereas accountability relates to people.
How does accountability in business help?
Establishing accountability in your business can help on many levels. It can:
This is the importance of accountability in business.
A USA study found that the probability of completing a goal varies greatly depending on whether you have committed to it or not and whether you’ve made yourself accountable to someone for achieving it. If you have a specific accountability appointment with a person you’ve committed to, there’s a 95% chance you will complete your goal.
Here's how to build an accountability culture in your business
Creating accountability in the workplace is S.I.M.P.L.E.:
1. Set Expectations
Accountability is not possible if any of your team are unsure of your business’s greater vision and core values. Therefore, it’s imperative that you set expectations with all your employees first to know what they are being held accountable for.
You can do this by ensuring you know your core values and communicating these. Provide them with a time management structure (like the Covey Management Time Matrix) to help them manage multiple tasks at once. Set and assign clear targets to all your employees along with time frames for completing these. Ensure each person’s role and responsibilities are defined and that everyone knows each other’s remit.
The clearer your expectations are from the get-go, the easier it is to hold people accountable for specific tasks.
2. Invite Commitment
Commitment from your employees is vital when working towards the goals of your business and meeting expectations. Ensure everyone is committed to doing their part and understands how this contributes to the bigger picture. Depending on the size of your business, you may do this via one-to-ones with your employees or discuss this with your leadership team and have them conduct these meetings. Put these expectations in writing, too, so they can be referred back to in the future.
Commitment helps grow accountability. When others are aware of the commitments made, this further motivates your team to complete their responsibilities on time and to the best of their ability.
3. Measure Progress
Progress and goals can only be measured when they are quantified and regularly tracked.
In my Strategy Scorecard (which I can send you for free, just click here), I recommend that all business owners implement a Key Performance Indicator System. The idea is that you identify 5-10 key numbers that indicate the performance of your business and systematically measure and report these on a daily or weekly basis. All your team should know which numbers are being tracked and used to measure their performance. Each person should have a number they’re working towards.
Compare these results with the goals and expectations you’ve set for your team (and yourself). This will show you where improvements need to be made and where your employees are excelling themselves.
4. Provide Feedback
The next step is to provide feedback to your whole team so they know how they’re performing in relation to expectations and where they can improve.
If you want to create a positive accountability culture in your business, it’s essential that you highlight both the highs and lows and offer helpful, constructive criticism if needed. Remember to focus on the work and behavior rather than the person in question.
Be sure to offer positive feedback regularly, as and when it’s due—don’t save it up for a yearly performance review. This will prevent your team from feeling like every time they receive feedback, it’s negative and will help them be more receptive when you have something constructive to share.
5. Link To Consequences
Different people need different types of motivation, and as a business owner, it’s your job to figure this out and act accordingly. Some people are motivated by internal forces. Others need something pushing them forward, while others need a prize ahead to chase.
Once you’ve figured out how your team functions, help motivate them by emphasizing the link to the consequences of meeting (or not meeting) expectations.
6. Evaluate Effectiveness
If you’re in the middle of scaling your business, there will likely be operations in place that haven’t been fully tried and tested. You’re still figuring out what works and what doesn’t, hiring new staff, and increasing efficiency across the business.
However, waiting until the end of a new project or process to evaluate effectiveness is too late. By then, you will have lost much time and wasted valuable resources. This is why it’s vital to regularly take a step back and assess the plan and everyone involved in it.
What components are working? Are you on track with your goals and overall mission?
Evaluating effectiveness at every stage will help you improve your operations going forwards—this should be an ongoing process.
How can a business owner be more accountable?
Now that you’ve got a better idea of how to create accountability in your business, it’s time to look at how you can hold yourself more accountable as you move towards your goals.
1. Remember your grand vision
Setting a goal or having an idea is the easy part.
We know that’s true simply by looking at the number of people who say they want to do or achieve something, compared to the much smaller number of people who follow through.
This is why setting goals for yourself is not enough on its own. You have to know what your big vision is for your business and yourself and see how these goals fit into that picture. This is how you’ll stay accountable to achieving your goals in the long run.
So, what is your big vision for your business?
What is your ultimate goal?
What does the end game look like for you in an ideal world?
2. Set goals & keep track
Once you know what your goals are, make a point of writing them down. As I mentioned earlier, having something in writing helps increase accountability.
Next, break down all your big goals into smaller, achievable steps, and create an action plan to follow.
For example, if one of your business goals is to make $1million in gross profit by the end of the year, break that number down.
How much profit do you need to make each month, each week, and each day? What should your first quarter target be to make sure you’re on track? How will you get there?
Make sure you’re regularly keeping track of your progress and making any adjustments needed along the way.
3. Celebrate your success
It’s no secret that big goals take a significant amount of time to achieve. But at the same time, we need to maintain our motivation while pursuing those big goals.
This is why I recommend rewarding yourself each time you reach one of the smaller milestones along the way to your goals. You can think of these as mini-goals. Your reward doesn’t have to be anything extravagant—just make sure it feels like a reward to you and will inspire you to keep pushing.
When you’re running a business, it’s easy to get into a habit of accomplishing things and moving straight onto the next thing without even stopping to take a breath. But make sure that you do. Celebrating your wins and acknowledging your success will help spur you on.
4. Join a mastermind group
There are many reasons why I would recommend business owners to join a mastermind group. But perhaps the biggest benefit is that you will have a team of people who can act as your accountability partners. Share your goals with the group, and you’ll immediately feel more committed and motivated to achieve those goals.
Being around like-minded people is also vital for your sanity as a business owner. This journey can be lonely, and friends and family are unlikely to understand what you’re going through.
A mastermind group helps you connect with other business owners and entrepreneurs on a similar journey. You can share ideas, seek advice, build your professional network, and so much more.
5. Own your choices
How many times have you said, “I have to do X,” since you started your business?
Here’s the truth: you don’t have to do anything. Everything is a choice, which means you don’t have to; you get to.
Accountability is rooted in ownership. It requires you to own the choices you make and own your outcomes too.
We all have things we need to do that we don’t necessarily want to do in the moment. Things like hitting the gym, doing our accounts, or completing that business plan for investors. But we do those things because we know they will lead to other things that we do want. We know our future self will thank us for it.
So, own your goals, own your choices, and own your outcomes. This is key for holding yourself accountable in your business. Other people can help you hold yourself accountable, but you’re the only one who can really do it.
6. Find an accountability partner
Now that you own your choices, the next step to holding yourself accountable is to find a dedicated accountability partner or buddy. This can be someone you met in a mastermind group, a networking event, a business partner, or even a business coach.
This relationship will be similar to that of a mentor. You can share your goals with your accountability partner. They can offer advice and support to help you achieve those goals, act as a sounding board, cheer you on from the sidelines, and offer you valuable feedback along the way. Having an accountability partner allows you to set bigger goals than you usually would and gives you the confidence to take action and achieve them.
Benefits of an accountability partner for business owners
So, why do I recommend that all business owners find themselves an accountability partner?
Because an accountability partner gives you:
A fresh perspective
Your partner will likely come from a different background to you and bring a different set of skills and experience with them. This means they can offer you a wildly different perspective that you may not have considered.
It’s vital that you look for an accountability partner who will always be honest with you, even when it’s hard to hear. This is why having a personal friend or family member as your partner doesn’t work. They need to feel they can be direct without fear of offending you. They need to be willing to call you out when you’re falling short. This level of honesty is essential to helping you understand your strengths and weaknesses and fostering accountability.
I would recommend selecting a partner who has previous experience working as an accountability partner or coach and is also familiar with the type of business you’re running.
Stop feeling stuck
Feeling stuck leads to inaction, which leads to stagnation and lack of progress. An accountability partner can help you get unstuck when you feel like you’re banging your head against a brick wall.
Have a sounding board
If you don’t have a business partner, you’re probably missing out on having someone to bounce ideas around with and gauge initial reactions.
There’s only so much your spouse can say when you share with them the ten new business ideas you had while taking a shower this morning… “They all sound great to me, hun.”
This is where an accountability partner comes in handy.
Make faster progress
Partnering with an accountability buddy can help you progress faster towards your goals because you’ve got an external force driving you forward. Even if you think you’re fairly self-motivated, having someone hold you accountable will likely propel you forwards.
If you are someone who struggles with implementing structure in your life and your business, then an accountability partner or coach can work their magic here too. They can help you break down your bigger goals into smaller steps, create an action plan, set up a reward system, and make sure you’re staying on track at all times.
How to find an Accountability Partner
Okay Tyler, I understand the importance of having accountability in my business and holding myself accountable. I think I’m ready to find an accountability partner!
There will be many goal-driven people who run or have run businesses at these kinds of events and conferences. Connect with as many people as you can, exchange details, and explore it further if you think there’s a potential fit.
Browse your contacts and shared connections. Pay attention to people’s career paths and profiles. If someone seems like a good match, introduce yourself when you invite them to connect with you. If things go well, move the connection offline.
Leverage your Network
Sharing your goals with your network helps you connect with friends of friends who may be influential in your industry. Get an introduction if needed, then make the first move.
Hire a certified business coach
And my number one tip for finding an accountability partner?
If you know you want support growing your business (and developing yourself), a coach can help hold you accountable and assist you in reaching your goals. I see too many business owners fail to grow their business because they don’t take the steps needed to build accountability into their business. Don’t make this fatal mistake.
Do you need help with accountability in your business?
Accountability is key to being a successful leader and creating a culture of accountability in your business. With hard work, self-motivation, and persistence, most of us can accomplish goals on our own. But with built-in coaching accountability, you’ll become more effective and drastically shorten your timeline to success.
Are you ready to work with someone who will help you hold yourself accountable and achieve your big vision? Click here to book an intro call with me. In this meeting, we will utilize my proven system to identify areas of your business that can be improved and will lead to the fastest positive impact on your profits and time.