There are many advantages with being a solo business owner. Following your dreams and passions; working where, when and however you choose; avoiding all the challenges of office politics or managing staff – just to name a few. However, it can be a lonely road, and that’s where an accountability buddy can come in handy, explains business and life coach, Cath Connell.
Isolation can quickly undermine your confidence, and you may find it difficult to make decisions or stay motivated to complete the important (but often not urgent) tasks that ensure your business remains viable and healthy.
While a business coach CAN help you with these (and as a business coach, who am I to say otherwise!), sometimes all you need is a fellow traveller to check in with to keep each other motivated and fresh – an accountability buddy.
An accountability buddy can not only help you “get stuff done”, but also be a cheer leader to help you celebrate your successes, a friendly ear when things feel hard, a sounding board for new ideas, a potential referral partner, and a valuable ally in business.
So if you’re finding your enthusiasm and energy waning (very common at this time of year), or you simply want some extra support to help you achieve your business goals, here are a few tips to ensure you get the most from your accountability buddy experience.
Choose your buddy carefully
It’s really important that you and your buddy are equally committed to the partnership. Ideally, you’ll have similar levels of experience and availability, and you’ll need to get along well – at least most of the time. It may be helpful to have a buddy who works in a similar industry to you… or alternatively, a different perspective may be just what you need. I’m currently working with an accountability buddy who runs a very similar business to mine, and we are both benefitting greatly from our mutual understanding of the joys and challenges of our industry.
Set clear goals and expectations up front
What are each of you trying to achieve, and how are you best able to support each other to do so? You might ask each other for feedback on content or a new offer, for example. Or help them break up a large project into milestones or actions, so they can report on each stage. Or put some simple practices in place so they become long-lasting habits. You also need to be clear about how often you will meet up and how, and set some boundaries around your time outside of this structure. After all, you have businesses to run too.
Track your progress
We all know the importance of action planning and the “to-do” list. So have a central repository for tracking your tasks and ticking off those completed. My accountability buddy and I use Trello, and it’s working well. I originally deleted any tasks I completed from my boards, but I’ve recently changed my mind, as I’m finding it quite rewarding to view the progress made over our time working together.
Embrace positivity and celebrate achievements
While it can be comforting to have someone on hand for the occasional “whinge”, try to keep your relationship positive and uplifting. You are here to help each other grow, not bring each other’s energy down. If you’re genuinely struggling, you may need the extra support of someone properly qualified, such as a counsellor or coach. Aim to be each other’s cheer squad… encourage, provide helpful feedback, share their enthusiasm and celebrate even the smallest achievements.
Be consistent AND flexible
While it’s important to keep your buddy on track – that is the point of this exercise after all – understand that sometimes life happens. So even if one or both of you don’t achieve your intended outcomes, keep showing up. Sometimes failure to complete a task can highlight a mindset block that your buddy may not be able to see for themselves. Sometimes it means that their priorities have changed or need to change. Maybe it’s OK to move a task to next month’s list, miss a deadline, change direction or cancel a project. Or maybe it’s the perfect opportunity to help your buddy push through and challenge themselves. You’ll know…
Always remember that your accountability buddy is just a buddy, not a coach. They’re doing this as a kindness – albeit a reciprocal one. They may NOT be the best person to support you with certain goals at certain times. If you’re finding that you need extra clarity around your strategy or direction, or you’ve run into some serious mindset blocks, or you need to make some major changes in how you run your business, you’ll be far better off working with a coach. And there’s no reason why you can’t have both… imagine how much you could achieve!
A good accountability partnership (and it is a partnership!) depends on commitment, communication and a shared desire for positive outcomes. When you are invested in each other’s success, it can be a powerful tool for personal and professional growth. It can certainly help you go further than you could on your own towards building the business of your dreams. And who knows, you might also gain a lasting friendship!
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