You want to start a business. You have a big goal. You know what you want to achieve. Maybe, you already know what to do to get there. Yet, you’re still far away from achieving your dream life. And you keep asking yourself why?
Why is it that everyone around me seems so far ahead of me? Why is it that even though I have a clear plan to reach success, I still haven’t reached it? Why is it that days, weeks, months pass by and I’m still stuck in the same old rut?
I’ll tell you why: because you need to be accountable!
Having a plan is useless unless you act on it
You know what it takes to start a business and become a successful entrepreneur. Maybe you read books, took courses, talked with other entrepreneurs and you now have a clear plan for how to achieve your own success.
But unless you act on it daily, having a plan is completely useless! And when I say daily, I mean every single day you need to be spending some quality time working on your plan.
Not five minutes here, ten minutes there. You need to be spending a few hours a day working on your plan. You need to plan how you’re going to act on your plan (Click to tweet)…sounds a bit meta, I know, but that’s the only way to achieve your big goals.
If you say you’re going to do X, Y, and Z, then you need to do it! That’s called accountability: you say you’re going to do something and guess what? You have to do it!
You could spend your whole life making plans, dreaming about your big goal, studying different ways you could achieve success. And then what? Life’s gone, the goal’s not reached.
So go ahead with your plan, stick to it, act on it, be accountable!
And who cares if the plan will turn out to have some fallacies, you can fix them while you’re working it.
Make it public
The first step to being held accountable for something, is to make it public.
Let’s say you want to start running. You could make a plan in your mind to run 3 times a week for at least 30 minutes at a time. But I’m quite sure you’ll end up giving up at some point.
Instead, if you tell everyone you know how you’re going to start running and maybe commit to an end goal like running the next NYC marathon, then you’ll have to stick with it unless you want to be seen failing.
And keep in mind, failing in this context wouldn’t be you not finishing the marathon, for example, but it would be you not being regular with your commitment to run three times a week.
Your spouse might ask you why you didn’t run this week. Maybe your kids will be wondering the same thing. Or a colleague might ask if you’ve already booked your flight to NY so you can run the marathon.
I’m sure you wouldn’t want to let them down. So you’ll do whatever you can to stick with your plan.
Same thing with starting a business.
Just saying to yourself you’re going to do it and how nice it will be to quit your job and have your business provide you with lots of cash so you can finally travel the world, won’t do anything to ultimately get you there.
Instead, put a website for your product, even if you haven’t got a product out, yet. Explain all the benefits your clients will get from it, how cool it is and put a date on it. Say when you’re going to launch it.
You might even want to pre-sell it: this is going to put extra pressure on you because if you’ve got people buying your product before it’s ready, you’d better deliver or you’ll stop looking legit and people will find it hard to trust you in the future.
Now, tell everyone around you about your site, send them an email, show it to them, tell them about it. Let them know how you’re going to spend the next X months working on it and tell them what’s going to happen when you launch.
Basically, unfold your big grand goal in front of them. I’m sure they’ll be back to check in with you regularly, so next time you see them, you’d better have some updates for them!
This is the easiest way to become accountable, it’s plain old public accountability: you tell people you’re going to do something and then you do it. You have to!
You need a partner
The other way to be held accountable is to find an accountability partner.
An accountability partner is someone who checks on you to make sure you’re doing what you said you were going to do. And you’re going to do the same for him.
The great thing about having an accountability partner is, of course, that you have someone who’s going to make sure you’re sticking to your plan and always moving forward.
But even better, you’ll have someone to turn to for feedback so you know you’re doing things right; you’ll have someone who can motivate you when you feel down and maybe are thinking about quitting; and you’ll have someone to bounce ideas off of so you’re not just sitting there alone in front of your computer with no human interaction.
The partner you’re going to choose needs to be in a similar situation to yours. One might be a little bit ahead of the other, but that’s not a problem.
The idea is that if you’re both in the same boat — a similar niche, similar knowledge about running a business, similar experiences and similar spot on your path to success –, you’ll feel more motivated to grow together and help each other out.
If you try and take on a partner who’s far ahead of you, he’s not going to spend as much time helping you. Not because he’s an egoist or mean, but simply because being at such different steps of your entrepreneurial journey, makes it difficult to develop the kind of relationship that you’re looking for as that would be a more likely candidate for a mentor: he’s been where you are, he’s done what you’re trying to do and he will teach you how he did it, but he won’t be able to spend time with you regularly to make sure you’re making progress.
Instead, with someone who’s in your same position, it’s going to be different.
You both need to learn, you both need to take action on your plan and being in the same condition makes it very likely that you’re going to keep up with each other and celebrate each other’s successes and push through each other’s failures.
The way you find a partner is the same way you make new friends: you go out and meet people, talk to them and try to build meaningful relationship.
What you should do is to hang out regularly with people like you. People who want to start a business, professionals who are fed up with their regular job and want to make it on their own.
Try to stick with people in your same niche: if you’re a developer, hang around other developers. If you’re a designer, go meet other designers. If you’re a writer, find out where writers hang out.
While it might be interesting to partner up with a designer if you’re a developer or vice-versa, in my experience it tends to be less optimal.
Sure you’ll gain the different point of view which comes from somebody in a different field, but it will also make it a tad more difficult to relate to each other.
So go look for online communities, local meetups, conferences, etc, where people like you like to hang out. Make sure you become an active part of those communities and talk to other people, even explicitly say that you’re looking for an accountability partner who’s trying to do what you’re trying to do.
And once you find somebody, spend some time with each other, talking about your goals, how you’re planning on achieving them, what you need to do to move things forward, etc.
Once you have a good understanding of each other’s plan, schedule a weekly call or face-to-face meeting where you can update each other on what you’ve done the week before and on what you plan on doing the next week. What went wrong, what went well, what you could improve.
Find a mentor
Another way to be held accountable is to find a mentor.
A mentor is going to be similar to an accountability partner except the relationship is going to be one-way because you’re obviously not going to check on him and check-ins will be less frequent.
A mentor is someone who’s already done what you want to do and so could be considered successful. And being successful means he/she’s not going to be able to frequently check-in with you.
However, even committing to a monthly catch-up is going to benefit you tremendously because with the mentor’s past experience, it will be very easy for her to quickly tell you what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong, plus it will be more difficult for you to deceive her by pretending you’re doing the work you’re supposed to do: she’s been there and she’s done that, so the mentor will obviously know where to look for progress.
On top of this, having a mentor means you’ve got someone who can help you out when you are in doubt and are not sure what your next step should be. Just be sure not to abuse the relationship!
Your mentor will very likely be a busy person, so try to figure things out before you turn to your mentor for an answer.
Finding a mentor could be easier or harder depending on your niche and on your personal network, so don’t go mad trying to find one.
If you can think of somebody, reach out to them and quickly explain your situation and politely ask if they’d be interested in mentoring you. If they agree, let them set the terms and start building your relationship. If they say no, no problem, just thank them for their time and move on.
At one point you should really have a mentor, but as you’re just starting out, it’s not mandatory. Also, as you move forward, it will be easier for you to find one because you’ll expand your network and others will be more interested in what you’re doing.
Accountability should be a top priority
So no matter what you are doing or planning to do, find a way to be accountable.
I’ve seen very good ideas fail because the person behind it didn’t stick to his plan and failed to move forward every day. At the same time, I’ve seen mediocre ideas succeed simply because of the work that was put in them constantly, day in day out.
Don’t be one of those people who come up with an idea, make a plan and then don’t follow it. Be the one who sticks to the plan and shows up every day to move things forward.
And while we’re talking about accountability, I’ve got an offer for you: I’m working on a subscription program where for a monthly fee you’ll get exclusive content, I’ll share with you the tools and systems I use to run my business and most important you’ll get a chance to email me whenever you like to ask me questions about your business and to share your progress with me.
If you’re interested in this, purchase it and then send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll throw in 3 months of mentoring where I’ll check in with you weekly via email to see if you’re sticking to your plan.
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In my career, I started more than 10 businesses, some where great, others not so much and a couple of them failed hard. At 23 I was nominated by BusinessWeek as one of Europe's Best Young Entrepreneurs. It was and still is a great ride and I want to share everything that I learned with you.
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