When you work for “The Man” you are held accountable in a myriad of ways throughout the calendar year. There’s the annual performance plan. Check. Weekly meetings with your manager. Check. 360-degree feedback from your clients. Check. Peer reviews. Check. These are all systems that corporations put in place to ensure you are performing your job to the best of your ability. So what happens when you go rogue to the world of self-employment? Well, I can tell you one thing: You don’t miss performance evaluations. But what you do miss is having your feet held to the fire on specific short-term tasks and long-term achievements.
Accountability and Planning (A&P) is a movement among entrepreneurs to self- regulate by holding each other accountable for achieving goals. Amber Singleton Riviere, owner of Upstart Smart–a resource for entrepreneurs who are looking for advice and support, sings the praises of her 5 year long A&P partnership. Amber reports that her A&P partner is, “the first call when we need an objective opinion.” Another benefit for Amber is that her partner is someone who will call BS on her to get her back in line with her vision.
Think you might benefit from an Accountability and Planning Partnership? Here are 4 simple steps to get started:
Choose the right partner. You don’t need to be in the same business in order to make a good A&P pairing. Is there someone that you genuinely connect with who owns a business complimentary to your own? Who do you trust? Who inspires you? It’s more important to have a general understanding of each other’s business but have an affable chemistry that will bode well for providing support and inspiring each other to reach your goals.
Schedule regular meetings. Once a month is a good length between meetings, but you may find that depending on your business you require more or less frequent touch-points. Write an agenda with a few points that you’d like to review and share it with you’re A&P partner a week prior.
Take turns starting the meeting. When it’s your turn, use your partner as a sounding board for ideas that have been keeping you up at night. You’ll find a wealth of resources in someone who has gone through similar challenges or who might be able to point you towards a resource that you wouldn’t have discovered on your own. Being an effective partner means being a good listener when the tables turn. Even if you don’t have a solution for the specific challenge that your partner is facing, having an engaged listener on the line can prove to be of comfort. And remember the BS Meter. Is your partner executing tactics that aren’t supporting her strategic vision? Don’t be afraid to speak up–just be prepared to receive that same feedback regarding your own business if you commit a faux pas!
Stick to it! There have been plenty of months where I’ve looked at my calendar to see my monthly A&P meeting creeping up and I’ve started to think that I have no accomplishments to share. Don’t sell yourself short. Stick to your meeting. Not only is your partner is counting on you, but if the reason you’re lacking in accomplishments is a time management issue, maybe your A&P partner can help you to brainstorm an effective way to address your challenge.
Intrigued enough about A&P to start searching for a compatible partner? If you are efficient, an hour once a month (30 mins per business) is all you’ll need to get focused. Start flipping through your contact list, and make 2012 the year that you hold yourself accountable for reaching all of your goals.