Accountability Equals Growth
Entrepreneurs have certain profiles. They have many strengths which are offset by weaknesses, like all humans do. But, a particular profile weakness of the entrepreneur is that they do not generally enjoy accountability. Frankly, I believe most humans don’t enjoy accountability. Like many entrepreneurs, firm owners have been lulled into the false belief that the restrictions you feel from accountability are in direct opposition to the freedom you long for as you run your firm your way.
To fully consider the feeling of restrictions that accountability brings, it’s important to explore what is meant by the word freedom (I did that here). Many have embarked on a journey toward "freedom" that has left them with a firm that crushes them mentally, or a firm that controls their life in an unhealthy way. That is not freedom (though you still got to ‘do what you want’). Freedom is actually the absence of chaos and the hope of a stable future, not the ability to do what you want. Why? Because entrepreneurs don’t often know what they should be doing next. That’s part of the weakness in their profile. Entrepreneurs are typically visionary, but often don’t have what it takes to execute a lot of their own plans. I know this personally. So, they need accountability, and that accountability brings true freedom (the absence of chaos and the hope of a stable future).
Visionaries and Integrators
It is often strategic for my partner and I to sit down and just start calling out work to move together. Mostly, my partner has the order of priorities in her head, so we just knock out the list in her mind. Since she is the COO and responsible for all operations of the firm, she knows what should happen next. I never have a list in my mind. My partner and I work in a model of partnership found in the book “Rocket Fuel” by Mark C. Winters and Gino Wickman. According to the book, we both have defined profiles. I’m a Visionary and she is an Integrator. I have a lot of ideas, and she can see all the places where those ideas should go. But, she doesn’t tell me what to do because then the weakness in my profile would push against that. Instead, we collaborate on what is the next step. In this collaboration, I have to often move at a quicker pace when we are “integrating” pieces of a vision. I’ve learned to do that. Similarly, she often has to slow down to vet through big picture ideas with me. She has many ideas, too. My partner and I bring a healthy level of accountability that keeps the ideas flowing and the execution happening.
Let me quote that last sentence above: “Bring a healthy level of accountability that keeps the ideas flowing and the execution happening.” That is freedom. Running your firm on a beach is not necessarily freedom (though it can be). Freedom is the absence of chaos and the hope of a stable future. How would you like to claim those for your business? It feels pretty good! Well, you can have it with a healthy dose of accountability.
Accountability and Growth
Perhaps, accountability is the special sauce you’ve been missing in your growth formula. It’s often the special sauce all entrepreneurs have been missing because entrepreneurs falsely believe the absence of accountability is freedom. Not true. The absence of accountability can quickly get you a lot of chaos, especially for the entrepreneurial profile. Believe me, I’ve been down that road in my own firm. I became overwhelmed years ago when I just couldn’t keep up with my own ideas. I couldn’t implement the processes fast enough to make the ideas take traction or bear fruit. I got chaos instead, and it was a heavy load. It’s then I knew I needed a partner. Not just any partner – I needed a legal, equity partner who could care as much about the firm as I did. I could have hired an employee to ‘help’ me, but that wouldn’t have brought the accountability I needed. I could have just trumped an employee and not done what they knew was the right thing to do. I’m not saying everyone needs a legal, equity partner, but I am saying that all entrepreneurial firm owners need accountability. It’s the special sauce in your growth formula.
Ideas for Accountable Growth
My partner and I know that all strategy priorities must end up on a calendar. In fact, we’ve just finished planning our calendar for the entire year of 2018. We know we are going to change those plans as we run our firm, but putting our big priorities somewhere means they will probably happen. And, then we just let the smaller task-oriented things fill in around the big priorities. A calendar is a great tool for accountability. The act of planning a whole year on a calendar with your partner means many, many strategy conversations have to happen before a block goes on the calendar. We have to ask questions like:
- “Why is that priority bigger than this priority?”
- “What do we have to give up to do this new thing?”
- “If we sell that new service, what old service do we have to stop offering?”
- “Can we do that much?”
- “What have we done for years that no longer produces significant value for our firm?”
A calendar isn’t the only tool that can help you be accountable to growing your firm. The processes and rhythms found in the book “Traction” also provides a great roadmap for accountability that all firm entrepreneurs need. “Traction” by Gino Wickman explains a system called the Entrepreneurial Operating System that can be applied to any business ready to grow. The foundation of the book is accountability, so be ready to do what the system requires. But, if you are ready, then you’ll enjoy the fruit of seeing your ideas become reality as you add more value to your clients’ lives, and experience the resulting profitability!
Want to learn more about implementing the processes and rhythms of “Traction” in your firm? My partner and I are actually leading a live class for all of 2018 to keep firm owners accountable to growing their firms using the “Traction” tools. These groups are called Future Firm Groups; they’ll meet monthly and you’ll be held accountable for following the “Traction” principles in your firm with other firm entrepreneurs. Not only will it be fun, but you’ll also begin to see what real freedom is like – the absence of chaos and the hope of a stable future!