Contributed by James Kademan
James Kademan is a business coach and blogger for Draw In Customers Business Coaching in Madison, Wisconsin as well as the author of The BOLD Business Book. When he isn’t keeping his clients accountable and not accepting excuses, he is busy guiding entrepreneurs to success in business and beyond. Let James know you mean business by connecting your new bosses with James by emailing email@example.com.
You own your own business. You have the freedom and flexibility that no job can possibly match. You do what you want, when you want, right?
Not so fast, as you no doubt have learned.
Doing anything you want, whenever you want consumes your day and, before you know it, you are spending your time spending money instead of making it.
You need a boss. But since you are a powerful entrepreneur, you need a boss that both you can handle and a boss that can handle you.
You need an accountability partner.
But because you are an overachiever and you know that anything worth doing is worth overdoing, you need at least three accountability partners.
4 Steps to Great Accountability Partnerships
1. Connect with three of your trusted fellow entrepreneurs.
Not your friends, not your spouse, not your neighbor. We are talking about people who you admire, who you do not want to let down and who understand business. These are people you want to impress and will not let you just slide by.
Look for people will be honest with you, who will ask you challenging questions, and who you can trust with private information. Find people whose expectations match your own in terms of your communication frequency and the channels you’ll use.
Not sure who to call? Check out options like actionbuddy.io. (That’s not an affiliate link).
2. Tell them your plan.
Your plan is to take some action to accomplish some goal by a specific date. For example, you could say that you will look at 5 different office spaces and decide on one by next Thursday at noon.
3. Your accountability partners have two jobs.
First, they are to reach out to you on the time mentioned (e.g. next Thursday at noon) and ask you, “Did you do your stuff?”
The second part of their job is to not accept any excuses. We’ll get to that in a bit.
4. In exchange for your partners checking in with you, do the same for them.
Typically, for this to work well, you need to routinely check in with each other either weekly or monthly or some defined time. The more systematized this is, the better it will work, the more accountable you will be and the more all of you will accomplish.
Your check-in can be 5 minutes daily or 30 minutes weekly. Consistency is more important than the length of time you spend talking at each check-in.
The Beauty Is in the Results
First, your accountability partners are not interested in your excuses. So when they ask the question, “Did you do your stuff?” they want to get a response of, “Yes!”.
If the response is not a “Yes”, it will either be a “No”, or you just won’t reply. The non-response is a “No”, as I’m sure we can all agree.
If it is a “No” do your accountability partners care why? Are they excited to hear your excuses? Maybe you believe they truly care that you got stuck in traffic, had water in your basement, saw a ghost, had locusts flying around or whatever excuse you will come up with.
They don’t care. They have their own lives, problems and concerns. The fact that you are boring them as to why you have not accomplished anything is hurting their chances of success.
No Excuses Is the Rule
That is the rainbow in this unicorn solution.
When each partner cares about how they are admired by their respective accountability partners, they do the stuff they said they would do. Which means that your accountability partners are essentially working as your bosses. Only they tell you to do exactly what you said you would do, instead of what they want you to do.
Your total time investment can be minutes per week. You just tell each other what you will do by when. Then you check in.
Here’s the Rub
If an accountability partner fails to do their stuff and responds, “No…” they have given every other accountability partner permission to do the same. This drags the whole group down.
If you do not keep your promise of accomplishing your tasks, not only are you letting yourself down, you are letting down your other bosses.
Your job under these bosses is to keep them going by simply doing what you said you would do. And, when you need to hold someone else accountable, use the more productive language of accountability rather than blame.
All of this can be done via a phone call, text, email or even (shudder) in person.
Imagine what you could accomplish if you knew someone was actually going to follow up with you to make sure you did your stuff?
Get Three New Bosses, Get More Done
Accept no excuses.
Keep your promises.
Be cognizant of what you say you will do.
Your three new bosses will appreciate your help and all of you will be better off because of it.
So… who will be your accountability partners?
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