Accountability & Entrepreneurship
Why you need an Accountability Partner
Would you like to increase your chances of success? According to research done by the American Society of Training and Development (1), people are 65 percent likely to meet a goal after committing to another person. This goes up to 95 percent when they build in ongoing meetings with their partners to check in on their progress! Accountability is thus critical for entrepreneurs looking for success.
As a solo-entrepreneur or an early stage founder, accountability is a recurrent topic for you. When you set your own path and goals, a lot of self discipline is required. You have a lot of goals to take on and it is natural to sometimes struggle with distractions and procrastination.
Also it is natural to gravitate towards the activities that you enjoy the most or which are a better fit to your skills. However, focusing your efforts on strategic endeavors is an important success factor especially when you are pulled in multiple directions by external clients and partners while at the same time you have to wear many hats to keep your business going.
So what are the tactics and solutions that you can rely on to keep yourself accountable?
Your first option is an accountability app
The experience varies according to the app. Some, like StickK, motivate you by pledging money to a cause you despise if you fail to reach your goal. Things has been designed to not only show you what’s on your plate, but to also show you a visual diagram of how close you are to the completion of a goal. Others, like FocusMate or Myfocusspace, match you to another available user to share a virtual coworking session after which you both reflect on your progress and network.
Accountability apps can be great but can be adding to your workload and the associated self discipline required. They focus primarily on tasks or subtasks within your day and might be less efficient for long term projects or activities. With the coworking solutions, you might not be consistently matched with the same person thus spending time to network at each session. You also spend time discussing the other person’s project and progress rather than focusing on your own. Finally, the other person might provide limited feedback not having established the trust and rapport needed for more challenging feedback.
So what can be a better alternative? Finding an Accountability Partner.
What is an accountability partner? According to Wikipedia, an accountability partner is a person who coaches another person in terms of helping the other person keep a commitment. What is why accountability partners are great. They bring an external dimension to your work.
An accountability partner gives you (2):
A Fresh Perspective
A Sounding Board
"An Accountability Partner Makes You Vastly More Likely to Succeed" (1)
Accountability partners can be:
Coach / Mentor
Friend / Family member
At the early stage of the venture creation, you may not be able to rely on investors, advisors. And as a solo-entrepreneur, obviously you do not have the luxury of a co-founder :)
Family or Friends might be the low hanging opportunity. But you need to be aiming to eliminate bias from feedback you will receive. They might not be the most critical towards your ideas or progress. Thus you should search for wider feedback from people who aren’t just telling you what you want to hear, or who stand to gain something from working with you.
So let’s explore further the 2 remaining groups:
Peer founder / peer group
Coach / Mentor
Peer group of other founders / entrepreneurs
Being surrounded like-minded people is important for your sanity as an entrepreneur. People going through the same challenges can more easily understand what you’re going through. It is also helping to fight any feeling of isolation or loneliness. Within a larger peer group, you can benefit from the connections and network of your peers.
What to consider before starting or joining one group? First and foremost the group structure. You need the right number of people within the group to ensure that the individual accountability remains while at the same time that the group still works despite dropout or absences. Accordingly a group of 3 to 5 people is recommended. Secondly, ensure a diverse group with a good mix of backgrounds and domains. Finally, define some group rules around meeting times, frequency and ensure a balance time between members: no one member monopolizing time and feedback.
Challenges you might face? For a group, it could be difficult to find a suitable recurring time to meet. Long term commitment might also represent an issue. Members of peer group must be committed to check in with each other on a regular basis and to provide helpful feedback. Finally, you may feel like you are losing your time listening to other people’s problems which are not relevant for your business.
Coach / Mentor
Choosing a Coach or a Mentor as an Accountability Partner allow you to avoid many of the pitfalls highlighted before. They are focusing on your business and your needs so you can dedicate the time to discuss only topics related to you. The relationship is usually ideal for mid- or long- term, allowing you to tackle these critical tasks.
So how to make accountability a success?
Choose someone who won’t be afraid to ‘tell you like it is.’
Meet regularly in order to maintain consistency.
Be fully honest, holding absolutely nothing back. You need to accept the vulnerability associated with exposing what you are really doing: either real progress or procrastination.
Notes & further resources: