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Employees are sacked for failing to perform. But when it's your own business, you get away with it. That has to change.

How can you drastically improve your ability to deliver results? How can you make this less of a lottery and reduce the odds of failure? The answer is in one simple word: accountability.

As owners of our own businesses we are rarely (if ever) accountable to anyone. We can make all kinds of promises and commitments and then we can turn our back on the great action plans as if we had never signed up to them in the first place. Most of the time there is no-one there to manage us and so we get away with murder. Our self-talk and our subsequent conversations with partners and colleagues rationalise and justify what is essentially our failure to deliver. 

So what is to be done? You need to be held to account. You need to put in place some kind of device, process or system so that you are held accountable to deliver, to perform. So, how do you do that?

You have a number of options to make yourself accountable. Whichever option you go for, you need to figure out what will get you to perform. Carrot or stick? Public humiliation or private anguish? Movement towards a goal or away from pain? 

Your board would be the obvious people to report to. Yes, I said "report to". Whatever it takes to get you delivering.

Or, you could employ a business coach, a consultant, or your bank manager to whom you need to commit your goals, and then get help to work towards them. Maybe put in place a simple reward/penalty system for success/failure, something that motivates you, eg: a week’s ski trip with your friends for success and pay £1,000 to charity for failure. 

You decide whatever you think will get you more motivated. The pressure of an outsider assisting in an objective yet supportive manner has tremendous power.

Another possible solution would be a slightly larger group (some kind of mastermind group) that meets regularly and to whom you have to report. Here the point is that you are not just responsible to one outsider but to a whole number (who are also going through a similar process as yourself). 

Again you have the objective, supportive outsider working with you but now you get the wrath or congratulations of your professional peers. Many business owners feel able to lie to their fellow board directors but cannot bear to admit their incompetence to what is, relatively, a room full of strangers. Professional humiliation is avoided at all costs.

Unless you are accountable, there's no obligation, on your part, to deliver on the results. And without the desired results, the right decisions and right actions are worth nothing.

Time to get your act together.

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Robert Craven shows MDs and owners how to grow their sales and profits and focuses on how to do this in recessionary times. His latest book is Beating the Credit Crunch – survive and thrive in the current recession. For further information, contact Robert Craven on 01225 851044 or at rc@directorscentre.com

Next: Cultivating a work culture: "No effort, no benefits!"

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