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Tools for accountability

Tools for accountability

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Every expert needs tools in order to do what they do. For example, take away their piping tips and smoother, and the cake decorator may not deliver on the design you ordered. Or just imagine the outcome if your accountant had to file tax returns without a computer. Similarly, entrepreneurs are at their best when they use tools for accountability. After all, business owners don’t have the structure a reporting system. They are entirely self-driven. And by nature, entrepreneurs are motivated and full of ideas. Which can actually be a challenge, because new projects and prospects pop up as distractions. Therefore, tools for accountability are critical for entrepreneurs to be effective and focused. Here are 5 kinds of tools for accountability every business owner should include in their workflow and routine.

What is accountability for entrepreneurs?

First of all, to clarify what is accountability for entrepreneurs. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, ‘accountability’ is the quality of being held liable for one’s conduct and performance of duties. What does that mean for a business owner? Well, because an entrepreneur has many responsibilities, the nature of their accountability varies. Suppliers would say it’s paying invoices on time. For employees, it’s following through on paying wages, managing performance, and being responsive. Meanwhile, for the government, it’s compliance with tax filings, remittances, and permits.

Here, we mean tools for accountability that support the entrepreneur’s role as a leader. Building a successful business requires not only a strategic plan, but taking consistent action to follow it. Results don’t happen when projects are picked up and put down without being fully executed. So these tools for accountability are tactics a business owner can use to help them stay on track and organized, so that they can follow through on all their plans and ideas. 

Time Tracking Tools

Keeping track of time is a foundation of staying accountable. After all, how can targets be set when you don’t know how long things will take? This just leads to failure and frustration. For example, I coached a salon owner who was moving into a bigger studio space. When she listed all the things she planned to do before our next call, I itemised them and then asked her to estimate how long each task required. By the end of the list, she realized that there were not enough hours in the week to get it all done. By readjusting her timeframe and expectations, she avoided the stress of overwork, and that awful feeling of not getting anywhere. Having reasonable targets she can achieve creates a pattern of feeling accomplished, which builds momentum. Also, it improves her leadership skills, because she can then communicate accurate time frames when talking to her staff about the upcoming move.

  • Toggl Track is a full-scope time tracker that gives business owners data to make decisions relating to project planning, hiring, and workflow
  • Clockify has a free forever plan and excellent reporting functions

Calendars and Reminders

Our devices have tools for accountability built in. Use these free apps to streamline bookings, appointments, and reminders. These are designed to sync between mobile and laptop, so events and notes can be entered anywhere you are logged in. This prevents double bookings, missed meetings, or forgetting deadlines. For example, schedule tax remittances and government filings, and reminders for performance reviews, policy renewals, and software updates.

  • Google Calendar
  • Reminders

CRM

CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software is one of top tools for accountability for owners of a service business. It’s a way to keep track of all client communication and preferences. Since building trust with customers is so critical in a service business, a CRM eases and even automates timely communication and personalization. Used correctly, a CRM has the power to level up the customer experience of a company and create a competitive advantage. It also centralizes information, which means important details don’t get lost in notes or emails. So if you agree to call a client with an update in 3 weeks, schedule it in the CRM. On the right day, the task with relevant data pops up so you can follow through to the promise made to your customer. A CRM is so valuable for staying accountable around communication and meetings. Also, a CRM allows entrepreneurs to delegate tasks to staff and monitor activity, which raises the bar of accountability across the whole team.

Recommended Reading

CRMs to try

  • Agile CRM has all the basic tools, and can grow with your business to add on more features and tools as you need them

 

  • Zoho CRM has a free plan, is scalable, and integrates with many other tools

Recommended Reading

CRMs to try

  • Agile CRM has all the basic tools, and can grow with your business to add on more features and tools as you need them

 

  • Zoho CRM has a free plan, is scalable, and integrates with many other tools

Bookkeeping

This seems obvious, but actually, many entrepreneurs fall behind on bookkeeping. Also, it’s not unusual for a business to outgrow the bookkeeping system it started out with. Or, that all the available functions are not fully integrated into operations. For example, receipts sit in an email box instead of being attached to transactions, or invoices don’t flow in a timely manner to an A/P process. Staying on top of finances is critical for business owners, because unpaid invoices and a mess at tax time is stressful. So using a strong bookkeeping system is one of the most important tools for accountability so an entrepreneur can manage cash flow, expense tracking, and tax responsibilities. 

  • QuickBooks allows for expense tracking and budget monitoring as well as robust features to integrate employee time keeping, payroll, and creating quotes for potential customers
  • FreeAgent is an easy to use full featured bookkeeping software that gives a service business owner all the tools needed to manage expense tracking, invoicing, payroll, and reporting.

Accountability Partner

Technology has transformed how we live, learn, work, and communicate. I value it and the ability to work with clients all over the world. Using the tech available is smart, but it’s not complete without the human aspect. An accountability partner is an important tactic to get feedback, clarity, and perspective. Here are 3 valuable tools for accountability that are known to elevate performance and results for entrepreneurs.

Mentoring

Mentoring can be  informal or structured. It can be a casual monthly coffee meeting with an expert in your sector. Or, it could be a structured arrangement to provide guidance through a particular project or stage of business transformation. Though many mentoring relationships are volunteer based, some are paid.  Get started by reading  How to Find the Right Mentor for You.

 

Mastermind Group

Mastermind groups are ideal for brainstorming and accountability. Like-minded people can gather to share expertise, get feedback, and stay on track with targets. Mastermind groups can be ongoing or for a specific length of time.  And of course, they can be in person or online. Read ​​7 ways to Find a Mastermind Group from the Mastermind experts at The Success Alliance. 

Business Coaching

Business Coaching is not just about strategic planning, it’s also effective as an accountability partner. I frequently hear clients tell me that they finished all the items on their action list the day before our session, because they didn’t want to show up without it done. Quite simply, deadlines work! No one likes to be the only kid in class who didn’t do their homework. Choosing the right business coach is important. Book a free call with me to chat about where you are at with your business, and where you want to be. 

Habits and Tools for Accountability

Learning new software may seem daunting. And changing habits is never easy. However, it’s worth the effort to incorporate tools for accountability into operations and workflow. Though it may take some time and effort to set up, the payoff is enormous. By streamlining tasks, setting reminders, and accessing financial reporting, business owners can stay accountable to their responsibilities as a leader and strategic planner. Also, connecting with a mentor, mastermind group, or business coach will provide all the benefits and support of an accountability partner. These tactics all combine to help an entrepreneur achieve their business goals.

Further Reading

How to Stay Focused as an Entrepreneur
What is a CRM
Answering customer calls

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Rebecca Page-Chapman