When you get together with other business owners and/or entrepreneurs and you’re talking about growth issues, what do you tend to ask them about?
Do you ask questions like …
- What’s driving your growth these days?
- What new tactics have you been trying out lately?
- What are some of the best ideas you’ve learned in the past few months?
- What’s one of the biggest mistakes you’ve learned from over this past year?
Or do you tend to talk about growth ideas like
- Hiring a top-notch sales team
- Using marketing automation
- Increasing your prices or average transactional value
- Adding new revenue streams
- Expanding your geographic territory
- Monetizing social media
Or none of the above (i.e. you prefer to keep it more casual and simply ask, “Want to grab a beer?”)
Well, regardless of which choice you make, my guess is that you (and your peers) almost always avoid talking about one of the most important “secrets” to growth. But before I tell you what it is, let me tell you that …
I. It’s Not About More Ideas
This pains me, because, as you know, I’m an idea guy. In fact, this entire website is all about ideas (there are literally hundreds and hundreds of ideas listed throughout this website). And ideas matter. A bad idea executed perfectly will still produce a sub-optimal result. The right idea executed at the right time in the right way does matter.
However, what holds you and most other business owners and/or entrepreneurs back is not a lack of ideas. Chances are if you took out a piece of paper right now and I asked you to list out ten ideas that you already know could help you grow your business, you could.
They might not all be perfectly formed ideas. They might not all be the right ideas. But several of them would be.
What’s interesting is, you’ve probably known about those ideas for a while now (possibly years). Even better, you’ve probably listed them on your goals and/or plans sheets several times. I know I have. In fact, the other day, I discovered some old plans from seven years ago and was shocked that I had written down seven years ago some of the items I’m just now executing on. Ugh!
It happens to all of us. Yes, ideas matter. And yes, the right ideas matter. But at the end of the day, it’s not more ideas that most of us need to grow our businesses to the next level.
II. It’s About More Accountability
There it is. The word most of us don’t like to think or talk about. Hiring superstars. Growing faster. Generating more profit. Delivering raving fan service. Etc. We like talking about those things. They’re fun and interesting to us.
However, none of those are the primary constraint for you or for me. The primary constraint for all of us is … us. We’re are own greatest enemy.
And no where does this lack of accountability rear it’s ugly head more than with business owners and entrepreneurs.
We all like to hold other people accountable. We just don’t like to be held accountable ourselves.
That’s why quarter after quarter, you keep writing down the same growth accelerator or constraint eliminator or project or initiative. Or, if you do this online, you just move the idea from Q1 to Q2 in a second and voila, it’s next quarter’s project.
Why? Because most of us as business owners and/or entrepreneurs don’t have any outside accountability. Our staff/employees won’t hold us accountable (they want to keep their jobs). So unless you have a board, chances are excusitis has become a way of life for you (unless you’re that rare individual for whom personal accountability is all you need).
Having coached business owners now for over a decade I can honestly say that lack of accountability is one of the major hindrances for business growth. It’s one of the reasons why I started the Wired To Grow Coaching Club (where the first two hours of our quarterly meetings are all about accountability). When you have to stand at the front of a room, before seven other business owners, for 15 minutes and give an account for the plan that YOU created 90 days earlier (not one we’ve given you but one you created), that’s a whole different experience. And it’s one of the primary reasons why coaching club members get better results. It’s about accountability.
III. Done the Right Way
Whether you join Coaching Club or create your own accountability group or you want to hold you and your executive team more accountable, here are a few guidelines for making it more effective.
1. Do It With a Group
While individual accountability is good and noble, it’s way too easy to wiggle out of (“Who will know?”).
I’ve also discovered that one-on-one accountability is very rarely effective. What tends to happen is that one person doesn’t like to be held accountable. So when you try to hold them accountable, they get testy. Then they don’t want to meet. You begin to realize, “If I still want to meet with this person, I better not ask them about XYZ.” And within a short span of time, either there’s no accountability or the relationship has severed (obviously, both are bad outcomes).
However, when you’re in a group (three minimum, preferably five to eight) that one-on-one effect is eliminated. Now, you’re reporting to a group of people—and who wants to tell seven other people, “I didn’t get my stuff done!”?
2. Focus on Inputs Over Outputs
As you know, there are way too many things out of your control and mine (the stock market, the presidential election, federal regulations, what customers do, etc.). However, the mistake most business owners and entrepreneurs make is that they want to be held accountable for outputs (how much revenue, conversion percentages, etc.). Now, there’s nothing wrong with doing that, it’s just harder to control.
A better option is to focus on leading indicators that you do have more control over (i.e. it’s harder to be held accountable for losing 15 pounds this quarter than for going to the gym three or four times per week). In your business, this would be more like, “I’ll meet with five customers a week for the next month to do a customer discovery session.” Or, “I’ll commit this month to designing a new systematic marketing campaign that we’ll use for the next six months.”
Like I said, there’s nothing wrong with using a lagging indicator but you have less control over a client saying yes than you do for you talking to twenty clients this month and asking them about starting a new project.
3. Add Consequences For Regular Incompletion
For most of us, the mere threat of having to tell a group of our peers, “I failed,” is more than enough motivation. However, sometimes it’s not. So what should you do when someone is continually falling short? Answer: add some consequences for that repeated failure.
For example, you might want to say, “For every commitment you don’t complete, you have to pay $X” ($20, $50, $100) which then goes to a charity the group supports. For some of us, that’s enough. However, for some it isn’t (especially for those of us who like to give money to worthy causes).
So, here’s what you do in that case. You pick a charity that the person is OPPOSED to. For example, someone who’s an advocate against gun rights has to give that $100 to the NRA (National Rifle Association). Talk about motivation! That guns right person will move heaven and earth to make sure they get their accountability item done by the next agreed upon time. Why? Because they finally have enough motivation.
If you want to move your business to the next level, you, as the person at the top, need to find some level of accountability to overcome your own nature. If you can find it with a group of other business owners you know, great. If you want to check out the Wired To Grow Coaching Club, great. If you want to try another coaching club or mastermind or other group coaching program, great.
I just want what’s best for you. And what I know is that apart from group accountability very few of us will ever become our best version or us or build the kind of businesses we have the potential to build.
So, where are you going to find the accountability you need to build the business you are capable of building?
Remember, no one really like to talk about accountability. But it is one of the “secrets” that’s critical to helping you get where you want to go.
To your accelerated success!
P.S. If you haven’t checked out the Wired To Grow Coaching Club yet, make sure you do right now.
P.P.S. If you have and you’ve been contemplating it, make sure you go to the coaching club page and sign up for your FREE strategy session ASAP. There’s no obligation.