Empower Your Business

Accounting is Just the Beginning

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Making Yourself Accountable in Order to Succeed

In my last post I talked about the lack of business skills often displayed by those owning and running small businesses. Although almost everyone seems to agree, very few seem to do something about it.

What would make it easier for business owners to take action? More time, more resources, or more of a willingness to embrace change? One sure fire thing that works is accountability to another, which is something one gets when working for someone else. Unfortunately, when you start your own business, you lose the benefit of accountability – as you only have yourself to answer to.

Accountability has been defined as ‘the obligation of an individual to account for his or her activities, accept responsibility for them, and to disclose the results in a transparent manner.’

There is nothing so motivating than knowing one is going to be embarrassed, be out on a limb or otherwise in trouble for not completing a task – business partners are good, spouses can be OK, even your kids can turn out to be good sounding boards, but the most efficient accountability tools of all in a business scenario are Business Mentors or Coaches. This is because:

  1. You are normally paying for their services and thus would be wasting your money if you didn’t do anything as a result
  2. They can look at your business objectively whereas you’re always plagued by some bias
  3. They are (should) be skilled in business and can therefore come up with ideas you didn’t have
  4. They can immediately see things you can’t, especially when what you’ve done is obviously flawed
  5. You can talk about your personal issues in complete confidentiality and let’s face it, personal issues are often very connected to business
  6. Very importantly, they can help you see the bigger picture, set goals and help you reach them, getting you away from the day-to-day minutiae – which is so vital if you want to get on.

So, if business coaches are so good, why aren’t they used by everyone?

  1. Bad eggs in the business have ruined the overall image of business mentors and coaches. Yes, there are a few, unfortunately but they can be avoided – ask around, start with the Chamber of Commerce.
  2. Lack of awareness of how useful the good ones are is another problem! Many business owners are reluctant to say that they get help from outside – slave to the ridiculous notion that we are supposed to possess all knowledge and experience from the word go.
  3. Business owners think that Business Mentors need to know their business intimately, which means that it will take too long or be too complicated to get them where they can be usefull. Although it is true that a good business coach will want to know your business well, such knowledge comes quickly to an experienced mentor.
  4. The perceived cost: A good mentor will bring about a return on investment much, much greater than the investment required in mentoring, which doesn’t have to be excessive. In fact it can be as little as $100 + GST per month.
  5. If things get too tough they don’t help you, just leave you to muddle on. Not so with a good, experienced mentor who will stick by you because they love the challenge (otherwise they wouldn’t be mentoring).

So if your business is drifting, finding it difficult to adapt to change quickly enough or just not performing give a try to the concept of accountability and see a brighter future open up before you.