Last month we recommended reading Gino Wickman’s excellent book Traction.  At the very end is an implementation plan for the methodology of the book and right at the top of the list is to establish who is accountable for what in your business.

It got us thinking on the importance of accountability in business and how this is one area where small business suffers greatly compared to the corporate world.

The word accountable is defined thus by Wikipedia: required or expected to justify actions or decisions; responsible”

In other words being accountable means having to explain why something did or did not get done.  It sounds insignificant.  Providing an explanation is not going to affect the outcome after the event so why does it matter?  However it does matter greatly because ultimately human beings are social animals and the expectation of others is a massively powerful motivation.

There is great discomfort in having to explain why something you promised did not happen.  And therefore motivation to fulfil on promises is greatly increased.

Whilst being held to account can be uncomfortable, it is also highly valuable for personal growth.  When we fail to meet targets we start by having to justify ourselves.  There is an opportunity for us to deal with the things that have stopped us from succeeding and therefore increase our capacities.

In corporate structures, the worker must account for their actions to the manager, the manager to the Directors, the Directors to the shareholders.  But in small business the worker, the manager, the director and the shareholder are often the same person and as a result there is no-one to have to justify actions to.

We are also assuming that results have been promised, but again in small business this is quite uncommon.  The business owner thinks they can hold the results they are producing in their head which tends to mean that targets are woolly if they exist at all.

All too often the result is drift.

With this in mind we have 4 recommendations to increase accountability in your business.

Create a written plan with targets
If your targets and actions are written down, someone else can pick them up and hold you accountable for them.  GoalDriver is a brilliant tool for this.

Recruit a non-Executive board for your business
The idea here is to have people that will hold you to account.  Ideally they will have business acumen and experience to help you.  Pay people if you can afford to but even recruiting family and friends as willing volunteers to support you in this function will improve your accountability.

Hold quarterly board meetings
Empower your board to hold you accountable on a regular basis for achieving your plan.  Quarterly meetings is our recommended rhythm for these meetings.  Crunchers Drive Meetings have a similar function.

Find a business buddy and have buddy calls
Work with a buddy to mutually hold each other to account for your targets and actions.  Our recommendation here is a weekly call to align on actions for the week and keep the ball rolling between quarterly board meetings.