who-holds-you-accountableWhen you have a job, your boss, coworkers and even your team rely on you to get things done in a timely manner. And when you don’t follow through, it affects them—and maybe your long-term employment options as well.

But when you work for yourself, there is no one to hold you accountable.

No one emails you and asks for that new book, or wants to know when you’re finally going to record that video, or questions why you haven’t posted to the blog in 17 weeks.

On the surface, that sounds pretty great, doesn’t it? After all, not having a boss is one of the big draws for self-employment. Here’s the problem though: When no one is depending on you getting your work done, procrastination and just plain lack of focus can quickly take over and bring your business to a screeching halt.

The answer? Simply find someone to whom you will have to answer for your actions.

You have several options here, from your spouse to automated systems such as stickk.com, but smart business owners have a secret weapon: a business coach.

When you think of a business coach, you probably immediately think of someone helping you solidify your branding or create a plan for launching your new product line. But a good coach is much more than an idea factory—she’ll also cheer you on in your successes and hold your feet to the fire when if you aren’t making progress.

And with a business coach, that accountability works better than with your spouse or accountability partner simply because you’re paying for her advice. Imagine how bad you’d feel to be paying a coach a few hundred dollars (or more) per month and not taking action on her advice. If you’re like most other business owners, that investment is a huge motivator!

One-on-one coaching isn’t the only way to go, either. You can also join a mastermind group and get some of the same benefits, including help with business development and accountability. Mastermind groups come in many different styles, including groups of friends and colleagues who bounce ideas off one another and costly paid plans that match you up with business owners who have similar goals and product offerings.

Both coaching and masterminding are proven techniques used by successful large and small business owners for years, and virtually every entrepreneur can benefit from one or the other—or both. But just like any tool, it only works if you use it well.

So before you enter into any coaching or mastermind agreement, be sure you:

  • Have clear goals for what you want to accomplish—your coach can help you set goals in your first meeting.
  • Work with those who have similar businesses or products—it would make little sense for a veterinarian to work with a mastermind partner who is an Amazon FBA seller.
  • Avoid the trap of being too understanding—accountability means not giving people “a pass” just because they’ve had a bad week or got distracted.

One last tip: It’s okay to change coaches and mastermind groups from time to time. You’ll only grow as a business owner if you stretch, and you can’t do that if you work with the same coach for too long.