I’ve just come back from a business mastermind retreat in the Lake District, hosted by none other than the fabulous Jo of Shinybees fame.
Being surrounded by such strong, intelligent women was inspiring. Their generous approach to sharing time and expertise with each other reminded me of the importance of having the right kind of people around you keeping you accountable.
Our retreat host, Jo, is my accountability partner.
One retreat attendee, in particular, was interested in how Jo and I work together as accountability partners. I’ve chatted about this on the Creative Me podcast (Episode 2 Group Hugs Optional) but it struck me that a more in-depth blog post might be a good idea too.
So here it is. This one’s for you LT.
What is an Accountability Partner?
According to Wikipedia (so it must be true) an accountability partner is a person who coaches another person to keep a commitment or reach a goal.
You already know a bit about how this works if you’ve ever tried to lose weight or train for a marathon (I’m ticking both boxes there). You’ve got a greater chance of success if you have a person, or a group of people, to check in with and keep you accountable.
In my accountability partnership, our shared goal is having epic success with our respective businesses.
What Makes a Great Accountability Partner?
Having an accountability partner is a bit like having a mentor, but both participants gain equally from the arrangement. When you have a mentor, both people benefit, but not necessarily in the same way. The mentor feels good about sharing their expertise and the mentee benefits from that. An accountability partnership is more of an equal exchange of skills and experience.
A great accountability partner will:
- Be trustworthy and generous with their time
- Be sufficiently bad ass to challenge and question you as needed
- Have a complementary skill set to your own
- Be positive, hardworking and want you to succeed
How to Find an Accountability Partner
A great way to find an accountability partner is to participate in networking events (either online or in person).
Remember, you don’t have to live in the same country as your accountability partner, although sharing similar time zones is a bonus. Jo and I don’t live in the same country, but using a combination of Skype, Slack and Google Docs, we keep in regular contact.
I’m willing to bet there are some amazing Facebook groups for people in your professional niche. Join, get chatting, help people, then perhaps ask if anyone is interested in becoming accountability partners.
I’ve Got One! What Next?
Once you’ve found someone who looks like a good fit, I recommend setting some boundaries and expectations for your relationship. You’ll also need to agree how you are going to communicate and when.
You could create a shared Google Doc outlining your plans (or you could use the one I have created for you - click the button at the end of this post to get it). Your Google Doc should also include an agenda and action points area.
I highly recommend a monthly check in call of approximately one hour via Skype or Facetime. That’s what Jo and I do and it works really well. We also chat throughout the month on a dedicated Slack channel.
In your monthly check in call you should review the previous month’s action points to see what has been achieved. Carry forward points if necessary.
Then set goals for the coming month. These should be documented in your Google Doc so you have something to refer back to.
Just Do It
Running your own small business is hard; it can also be lonely if you work from home on your own. Even if you only check in with your accountability partner once a month, it really can be the difference between success and failure.
Working with Jo has made a massive difference to my business, and in addition to that, I have gained a wonderful friend. That's priceless.
What About You?
Do you already have an accountability partner? If so, how do you work together? Are you looking for someone to partner up with? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.