Once your business plan has been created (the Plan It! section of the book) it is easy to think you have completed the project. This is just the beginning. The good news is that having committed your goals in writing with a planning exercise makes you 40 percent more likely to achieve your vision, but why stop there when you can increase your odds. Some research suggests:
- If you tell someone else you are 60 percent more likely to achieve your goals.
- If you make a regular investment of review and accountability your odds go up to 95 percent more likely to achieve your goals.
If you are like me, you want what you want. Let the first act of “doing” be to identify when and how you will stay on track with your plan. Start by engaging your stakeholders for the full length of your planning period.
Reviewing your plan regularly is powerful reinforcement. Decide how often you will review your plan and put it on the calendar. Think of this date and time as an appointment with your best client: you. Resist delaying the review when something else comes along.
I would advise a monthly review. If your plan is designed to move more slowly, with dates and deadlines more than three months apart, then you may find that quarterly works best for you. Never let more than six months go by without reviewing and updating your plan. For most people that is half of the plan time. If you let any project go unattended more than six months it is likely not going to produce the results you want in the plan period.
If at all possible, have your plan review in person with all of the stakeholders involved. If you are in business alone review it with your coach or an accountability partner. As mentioned earlier, avoid the temptation to delay these meetings or cut them short due to some current issue or interruption. Reviewing the plan is just as important as creating it, maybe more. Make it a priority. Make sure anyone you choose as an accountability partner will do the same.
Reviewing your plan with a group of people is even more powerful. Each person that is included will have some sense of ownership for the plan and can offer new ideas and input.
If you do not have a team of persons or peers that you can rely on as an accountability partner(s), look around for someone that would be a good partner for you. There are plenty of other small business owners that could benefit from the same support. Choose wisely. Not just anyone will do.
Find the right partner. Look for someone you trust, that has a similar sized business as yours. You might consider asking one of your strategic partners. That is a great way to share ideas and help each other move your plans along. Share your commitment to this plan with them and ask for their commitment.
Set a schedule and keep it. I recommend that you put the dates on the calendar for the year or plan period. At the very least, plan the next meeting while you are wrapping up the current meeting.
Decide in advance what you will review together and how you will present the information. It is not good enough to just “send it over” and let them look at it. You want to take the time to collect the information, analyze it, conclude your findings and then share them with your accountability group or partner(s). As mentioned earlier, meeting in person is always best so that you can be sure you have the full attention of each person.
Set a policy of confidentiality. Some of the information you share with each other will most likely be proprietary. You will have chosen a partner that you can trust, but you should also be clear with all the parties that the policy of confidentially applies to any information shared in your accountability meetings.
Determine in advance how you like to be held accountable for your outcome. What would you like your accountability partner to do or say if you meet your goals? More importantly, what do you need if you do not meet them? This is typically the way you prefer to be motivated. Do you like a “carrot” or a “stick?” Be sure you share that with your partner. If you are playing the same role for them, be sure they share how they like to be motivated with you as well.
Make a change if you are not getting your needs met. Partners that serve you best are those that take this process as seriously as you do. It is my hope that the partner(s) you choose will be exactly what you need, but, do not allow a weak accountability partner to bring you down. If the partner you choose shows signs that they are not committed, make a change quickly. Signs can be, canceling or rescheduling more than one time; not being prepared; allowing interruptions; cutting meetings short; not paying attention; not having good feedback; not holding you accountable in the way that you have agreed to; or any breach in confidentiality.
Stay tuned for more from my new book: Plan It! Do It! Love It! on living and loving your small business lifestyle. Read other excerpts here:
Book excerpt: Avoid these 5 pitfalls of poor hiring
Book excerpt: Love It!
Share your small business tips on social media with the hashtag #planitdoitloveit