The Key to Self-Accountability as an Entrepreneur
Entrepreneurs often excel at running their day-to-day businesses and swiftly meeting their customers’ needs. But often, those same business owners who are great at meeting their clients’ needs have a hard time meeting internal deadlines and achieving long-term goals, despite their best intentions. Enter: self-accountability, or the act of maintaining commitments you make to yourself and accepting responsibility for the outcomes of your actions. It’s the difference between getting something done and a wistful, “I’ll get to that next week” mindset.
This article will outline a few ways you can stretch your self-accountability muscle.
Setting Goals and Deadlines
We all have projects we’d like to work on but haven’t gotten around to for various reasons. The issue could be that your goal isn’t SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) enough, causing uncertainty about how to start. Eliminating ambiguity around your goals can often unveil the path to achieving them.
Once your goal is SMART, start by making a timeline of tasks and milestones that you would like to be held accountable for, marking your calendar for each milestone and the project’s end date. By displaying your list of milestone dates prominently, you might find that carving out time to work toward them becomes a more practical and intentional process.
Connect with Your Purpose
Take some time to analyze why completing a project is important to you. How would completing it connect with your business purpose, mission, vision, and values? Document your “why” and display it prominently next to your milestone list to help you stay focused.
State Your Goals Publicly
Communicate your goals publicly with peers, friends, or co-workers. For many entrepreneurs, this is when their commitment to achieving their goals feels real. “There’s no turning back now,” you might find yourself thinking.
It’s a big step to put yourself out there, and as we’ve mentioned, many entrepreneurs find it easier to be accountable to others than to themselves. If this is something you experience, announcing your commitment can be a great way to establish self-accountability. By making your intentions public, you’re taking responsibility for the results of your actions (or inactions). It may feel scary to do so, but it works!
Consider an Accountability Partner
Some people do very well by partnering with a peer or trusted business person. This could be a mentor, a paid coach, an advisory board, a mastermind group of people, a nonprofit group, a co-working group, a peer, a vendor, an incubator, or an investor. While a friend might seem like the best place to start, consider going further outside your comfort zone.
Tell your accountability partner to push you and to be candid. They may need your explicit permission if it’s an informal arrangement. Set regular meetings to help you maintain your progress and report on your milestones. Allow your partner to point out mistakes or opportunities for improvement, and acknowledge them yourself. Make course corrections as soon as they’re necessary and use your partner as a sounding board.
Remember, this process won’t work if you aren’t honest with both yourself and your partner. Notice when you’re procrastinating and dig deep to discover why. Often, it can be a lack of resources or time, but this cause is usually coupled with a mindset issue, like uncertainty about where to start or a fear of failure that needs to be illuminated.
Celebrate every milestone you achieve, big and small. Reward yourself appropriately! Even if a project seems small, if it’s one you’ve put off for months or even years, completing it is worth celebrating, and you shouldn’t feel ashamed of the time it took you to reach completion. A celebratory mindset reinforces positive behavior and creates enthusiasm and momentum.
Self-accountability makes the functions of your business run better, plain simple. You can apply these ideas to projects, entire departments, and even your personal life goals.
Accountability can make a tremendous difference in achieving the success you want, so try out one of the approaches we outlined above, and know that we’re cheering you on every step of the way.