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October 1, 2017

Running a small firm? Who holds you accountable?

accountableIf you are responsible for revenue growth (i.e. you’re a sales rep or a seller-doer hybrid) and you have a boss that you report to… then being held accountable is pretty easy. You record your activities in a CRM that he or she reviews. Or you provide a simple report on your activities, progress and sales prospect status.

Do that… and your boss knows you’ve been working hard and he/she can even provide feedback and suggestions that can help you get better. Don’t do it… and your job is at stake.

But what if YOU are the boss… and also the rainmaker (a very common ‘structure’ in the Market Research industry)? Who’s holding you accountable for revenue growth? Who are you reporting to and getting feedback from?

The obvious first response might be via your Board of Directors, if you even have one (which the vast majority of small and mid-sized firms don’t). But even if you do, board meetings usually take place only monthly or quarterly, which is just not frequent enough to be helpful.

So, let’s look at a couple of proven methods…

Find an Accountabilibuddy!

One way that works well is to find someone outside of your organization who is willing to be your “accountabilibuddy!” I’ve been using one for almost 3 years now… a friend and fellow business owner who is willing and able to help.

Every Saturday morning, I send him my weekly business development report showcasing pipeline progress, updated revenue numbers, specific activities with sales prospects, what we’re doing with lead generation, upcoming marketing and sales opportunities and so on.

I never miss a week. In fact, it has become such a habit that I genuinely feel guilty if I’m going to be late with it. And even if he doesn’t read the report, that’s OK. Because I’m keeping it up-to-date all during the week, it keeps me focused on my business development efforts… nothing falls through the cracks.

Use the Whole Team

The other accountability idea for bosses comes from a former employer, where the new president sends a weekly report to his entire staff (more than 25 employees)… what a unique idea! Where is it written that the person (or people) holding you accountable has to be higher up the corporate ladder than you? In fact, there may be even more ‘pressure’ being held accountable by the people whose livelihoods you are responsible for.

Like my weekly business development report, this company leader sends an email to his entire staff with a list of bullet points outlining what he’s been doing, not only around business development, but also other company-related business.

“But I’m the boss!”

I know what you’re thinking. “But I’m the boss… I don’t need to be held accountable for sales.” While you might not have to be, I submit you should be. In fact, there are a number of clear benefits to being held accountable…

  • You perform better when you know someone “is watching.” You make better decisions.
  • You can get feedback to improve your performance.
  • You’re forced to follow through on your commitments.
  • You create deadlines for action and report against them.
  • Because you’re focused on business development, you stay grounded in reality.
  • In general, accountability keeps the pressure on… it compels you to be proactive and make progress.

The Bottom Line

If you own or lead a business – and have the added responsibility of growing revenue – make sure someone is holding you accountable. The old phrase, “What gets measured gets done” applies here… the habit of having to report to someone on a regular basis will ensure that you stay focused, stay proactive and continually improve. Not bad, huh?


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