I know it. You know it. It's the biiiiiig entrepreneurial secret.
We have 5,000 projects going at the same time...and yet somehow, none of them get done.
Or we say "I'm going to create really great content, launch a new product or service, and FINALLY let go of the time-for-money cycle."
And then? Gilmore Girls and Netflix and client hunting and...not doing any of those things that you said you were going to do.
Here's the thing: we're terrible at being accountable to ourselves.
I can't even tell you the amount of times I've said "I'm totally going to send out an email about my new service!" and the weeks tick by and my bank account stays empty. And I get to hide behind the fact that nobody else knew this goal and so I don't need to actually complete it if I don't feel motivated to do so (or more likely, I'm too scared to do so).
Which is why we need good accountability partners. We need people who ask the right questions, people who help drive us in the directions of our dreams, and people who similarly want to get shit done too, and need someone to call them out when they're not producing.
The other major piece to this? We need to BE good accountability partners. We need to know how to ask the right questions, we need to have a good structure set up, and we need to not flake out on our partner when life gets busy.
Which means we need to actually care about what the other person says and does instead of just worrying about ourselves.
So what are the attributes to look for when you're choosing an accountability partner?
1. Be in similar places in your business
I've had accountability partners who are WAY ahead of me in business and it almost became a mentor/mentee relationship, which meant I wasn't putting in as much as I was getting and the relationship felt unbalanced.
Make sure you and your partner are in the same year of business, especially if you're newbies. Year One and Year Two of business can be DRASTICALLY different on the learning curve, so before you commit to someone, make sure you get to know them a little bit.
2. Make sure you conduct your business in similar ways
There are TONS of people in the online world that are looking for accountability partners. Which is why I recommend you choose a partner that "gets" your way of doing business. If you create physical products, getting a partner that also makes and sells products is only going to help you learn. Same if you're a service provider or you sell online courses.
If you and your partner have wildly different businesses (like physical retail vs. online service providers), you're going to have different goals and different wants and needs.
You don't necessarily have to be in the same industry (like two photographers or two wedding planners), but having similar methods of doing business and HOW you're serving customers is the best way to go when creating a relationship like this one.
3. Make sure you have similar goals.
I cannot tell you how often accountability partnerships flame out because the goals aren't fleshed out in advance. Some people need accountability not for work that needs to get done, but for emotional support. Some people want an accountability partner that's going to email back and forth with them throughout the day asking questions about different projects. Some people want a check-in once a month for updates about business, and no contact in between.
Make sure you're on the same page about what your goals are. And if you're looking for an accountability partner but haven't done a deep dive into your goals? Do that first BEFORE you put the word out that you're on the hunt.
Some goals can be:
a. I want someone who will check in with me once a week and I'll check in with them via email. I don't need hand holding, but I want someone who is creating awesome things and who will inspire me to do the same.
b. I want to grow the digital offerings that I have and need someone who has experience/wants to do the same.
c. I want someone that I can call and text randomly to vent about business since no one in my friend circle understands.
d. I want someone who has a coaching background and can ask the right questions (which I can ask back to them).
4. Make sure you know them a little bit.
Whenever I see someone who does a blanket call for accountability on Facebook, I always cringe a little. There are SO many business owners online and in your community that it makes the most sense for you to create an accountability relationship with someone you already know and trust.
DON'T pick the first person who responds to you and then start your relationship. Have a few intake calls, try to get to know them a little bit, and share your goals with each other BEFORE you enter into anything serious (just like dating!).
5. Make sure they're willing to share the work.
Often, accountability relationships can be one-sided if one person is more motivated than the other. This can lead to one person investing more into the relationship than the other (just like dating!).
At the outset, decide how you're going to share responsibility. Maybe one person starts each week with their goals and the other person asks probing questions, and then you switch off. Maybe one person is tasked with calling and emailing and the other person takes notes or manages a spreadsheet of accountability goals.
Just like any relationships, sharing the responsibility to maintain the relationship is important.