A new entrepreneur starting up a first business is often required to learn and embed new behaviors to marshal the business from idea to launch and beyond. The switch from idea generation and evaluation mode to constructive project management to develop products, marketing, teams and partnerships requires an entirely different skillset. All entrepreneurs, and in fact all business leaders, can benefit greatly from a team of advisors available to consult on various subjects at any time. One special advisor can make a huge difference in keeping the entrepreneur focused on productive execution of the plan – that is, an accountability coach.
Before you pick up the phone to call your coach, learn to stop playing the self-doubt game. Fear of uncertainty can freeze people into inaction and often counter-productive behaviors. Each time you start to say “What if…” catch yourself, take a deep breath and immediately counter the thought with positive information and or an action. For example, “What if we can’t sell as many as we thought”, can instantly become, “We sold 200, who did we sell them to, who else can we sell to and what else can we do to sell more?” Learning to do this every time will reprogram your behavior and get you into a productive achievement-oriented mindset.
Your accountability coach may also be a business advisor focused on some specific subject area. Ideally, the coach will be an objective third party and not a spouse or significant other person with whom you have a close personal relationship. It is important to avoid coaches who may be enablers of your bad habits, or who might assume an undesired control attitude or even encourage you to move in the wrong direction. You want a coach you respect and from whom you are willing to take corrective directions to ensure the optimal productive relationship.
Your communication with your accountability coach must be honest, open and complete. Leaving out important issues or telling seemingly small white lies about progress undermines the relationship and that will only sabotage your efforts. As you establish the relationship with an accountability coach, consider the following key elements to keep you on track:
Commitments – Be clear on all objectives and commitments you are making. This includes both business objectives and project deliverables as well as personal and leadership development commitments. Anything that you will gauge to measure your own productivity and accomplishments are appropriate. Be sure to include behaviors or events that hinder your productivity.
Scheduling – Identify specific dates and intervals for the milestones associated with each commitment. Things go wrong and dates will change for a variety of reasons. Keeping the current set of dates and the adjustments in the open helps to assure correct focus and communication.
Relationships – Identify people that are important to the commitments and to your ability to make progress.
Focus – Save friendly social chatter for after accountability coaching meetings. Maintain a disciplined focus on the commitments, timing, relationships and objectives.
Regular – Schedule meetings with the coach on a regular and consistent basis to assure that reminders, prompts and coaching can occur in time to prevent old, or bad, habits from redeveloping.