When it comes to motivation, it can be a little tough as a solopreneur. We don’t have a team of colleagues behind us pushing us forward, or a manager we need to impress. What tends to happen is that our focus wanders, leaving our goals unmet and our to-do list untouched.
What’s a solopreneur to do? Well, there is a productivity “tool” you can use called an ‘Accountability Partner’ which is designed to improve concentration and help solopreneurs like you stay on track.
What is Accountability?
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of what an accountability partner is, let’s look at what we mean exactly by the term accountability and why it’s so important.
Let’s break that down in basic Layman’s terms. There are three main aspects of accountability:
1. Being aware of what you have to do.
2. Telling someone (or yourself) that you’ll do it.
3. Being open and honest about your progress…and whether you actually did what you said you were going to!
Why is Accountability Important?
You may be a solopreneur, but no man (or woman) is an island! Your business relies on good business relationships with clients, customers, and/or freelancers and accountability builds trust.
When you say you’re going to deliver work and don’t do it, that trust is broken and it’s hard to repair! Being accountable means taking action and being responsible. If your clients see that in your work ethic, they will have confidence in you and your business.
So, What is an Accountability Partner?
An accountability partner is a person with whom you share your work goals and give them feedback later. As the title suggests, it’s a partnership, so you will also listen to their business goals and receive updates as to how they have progressed as well.
It’s a mutually beneficial relationship where you both provide motivation and support as you each tackle your daily tasks and business growth. The aim of the game here is to help each other to succeed.
How does it work?
Sometimes, we can have the best intentions. We tell ourselves that today is the day, we’re definitely going to do that mammoth task that we’ve been putting off. Then… we don’t. We make excuses for ourselves.
We tell ourselves it’s not that urgent. No one knows. No harm done. Right?
With an accountability partner, there is no place to hide!
It puts our intentions out there and if we don’t follow through then we look bad. We are social animals who aim to please and keep our promises. By telling another person we put pressure on ourselves and we are more likely to carry out the tasks we said we’d do.
It’s the most positive form of peer-pressure! In the same way as having a gym-buddy helps to motivate you to actually GO to the gym, having an accountability partner pushes you to actually DO the work.
Who Makes the Best Accountability Partners?
The best accountability partners are people you don’t know personally. A family member or friend might be great at the cheerleading part but will they be tough enough when you procrastinate all day rather than touch that to-do list?
Another plus point for partnering with someone we don’t know is that sometimes we fear the opinions of strangers more than the people we know well. Our natural urge to impress or please acts as an added incentive to do what we said we’d do!
It also helps if the person we partner with is a peer in the same or similar field of work as they are more likely to understand our goals and may even have some great ideas and feedback.
Where to Find an Accountability Partner
You can try topic related forums or social media platforms. Facebook groups in your particular business niche are a good place to start. If you prefer a face-to-face partnership, check out local Meet Ups in your area.
But the easiest way to find an accountability partner is through one of the dedicated websites.
There are many benefits of an accountability partner. For starters, it’s like having your own personal business coach! Being connected to another professional who has also committed to being accountable can really change the way you work. It can banish distractions, increases focus, and help you tackle those most important or the most hated tasks!
Once you’re sold on the benefit of having an accountability partner and working together to improve your respective businesses, how do find one? Running a business can be lonely after all, and if you don’t have the time to network, you may not have a ready list of contacts to which you can pitch a partnership.
It partially depends on what type of relationship you want to have. Some business owners rely on family and friends to provide feedback. These are people you can trust who are almost always available. There is an inherent risk to doing this, though. It can be challenging to maintain a professional relationship with someone you already know and love, and you never quite know if their advice is honest. Your parents, siblings, and closest friends want to see you succeed, but they don’t want to give the bad news that you’re making mistakes.
For those who’d prefer a purely professional relationship, consider the following options:
• Coworkers or Ex-Colleagues – Whether you still have a day job or not, the people you work with or once worked with are a great starting point, offering an existing professional relationship to build on.
• Digital Relationships – You likely have a substantial social network online of clients, colleagues, people you’ve met at conferences at more. A digital-first partnership can be a great way to start.
• Existing Group Relationships – Your church, local volunteer groups, the PTA – whatever groups you are already a member of can be a great place to meet people who have similar goals and would be interested in working together.
• Dedicated Websites – There are several dedicated websites designed to help people connect with accountability partners. They typically charge a small fee but can be a great way to push yourself to act.
Three Steps to an Effective Accountability Partnership
So how do you find someone who can truly make a difference for your business and with whom you can work effectively? Here are three things to keep in mind.
1. Have goals already in place and know what you want to accomplish. Your accountability partner won’t tell you what to achieve. If you’re unsure of your next step, you may need a business coach or consultant more than a partner to help track goals. Be ready to define what matters and why it matters.
2. Create a system to manage and track your goals. Beyond setting goals, have a system in place to support your accountability efforts. This includes daily and weekly worksheets, quarterly reviews, short and long term goal management, and a regular cadence of meetings in which you can discuss each other’s goals.
3. This needs to be a priority. Personal and professional development often falls to the bottom of the list for entrepreneurs that already wear a dozen hats. Accountability needs to be at the top of that list no matter how busy you get.
Meetings should be a priority, and you should be ready to discuss not only your issues and concerns but those of your accountability partner.
The goal of such a partnership is to provide a sounding board for progress against your goals. If you’re successfully meeting your targets (or trying your hardest to do so), you’ll be excited to attend these meetings and eager to share what you’ve accomplished. If you haven’t, it will be tempting to “be too busy” for them, but it’s those moments in particular that can have the biggest impact.