Here’s an all-too-familiar scenario: You’re feeling stuck in your business yet you’re fresh out of creative ideas. Or maybe you have all the plans, but you don’t have the energy to put them into action because emails, social media, work, family, and life have a sneaky way of swiping hours away from your day.

The good news is you don’t have to go it alone. Perhaps you could use a mentor or an accountability partner. While mentors can provide guidance and advice based on their extensive experience and expertise, an accountability partner acts as your tactical coach and cheerleader. You may be more likely to connect on a regular basis with your peer because you’re likely rowing in the same business boat, and they can help you stay on top of your goals and prevent you from going off the rails.

Making Yourself Accountable

A study from the American Society for Training and Development found that you have a 65% chance of achieving a goal if you commit to someone, and if you establish ongoing meetings with that someone, the odds increase to 95%. Consider a peer who may be in the same business as you, or who has the same level of experience, so they know the challenges you face because they’ve been there.

Think about how much more likely you are to hit the gym if you know you have a standing appointment to meet a friend in the weight room. Social influence is a powerful motivational tool and the science backs this up. Creating social comparisons with others ups our game and keeps us committed. A study by members of the Department of Kinesiology at Indiana University revealed that couples who went to the gym solo had a 43% dropout rate. If they paired up for their workouts, that likelihood dropped to 6.3%. The closer we are to someone, the more we’ll work to impress them and ourselves.

From running partners to peer partners in business, checking in with someone on a regular basis can help you fast track your goals to grow your small business — especially if you’re meeting with them face-to-face or screen-to-screen.

Ready to up your accountability game? Here’s how to get started.

1. Find your buddy.

You want to pair up with someone you can trust. This person is either in your field or at your peer level. You can locate partners online via sites like Focusmate, Reddit, or in Facebook groups that are tailored to your business and industry. Also, think about the people you know in your network and community. Are there peers in local community groups you can tap into? Can you send an email to your friends, former colleagues, or work partners — any one of whom may be able to refer you to someone who’d also like a kick in the work pants?

Once you find someone, determine if the partnership is a win for both parties.

  • Do you have shared values that make connecting and cultivating a peer relationship easy?
  • Will you feel comfortable sharing your work and progress with this person?
  • Are you committed to working together?

Getting an accountability partner is like any other relationship — you want to make sure you like this person, can work with them, have similar goals, and that they’re ultimately the right fit.

2. Define your goals for the partnership and the rules of engagement.

Make sure you start with SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-sensitive), as well as laying down the foundation for logistics.

  • Will you meet in person or via video call (FaceTime, Zoom, or Skype)?
  • How often will you meet?
  • How will you determine meeting goals and progress?

It’s important to establish a regular meeting frequency. Schedule it in your calendar like any other appointment and commit to it. At the close of each meeting, determine what will be discussed at the next meeting and how both parties can show progress against their respective goals. Don’t cancel the meeting unless it’s a true emergency.

Commitment and consistency are key to making progress and achieving your goals. Remember, you’re doing this not as a social call, but as an investment in your business, and you’re paying with your time, energy, and commitment. Give this relationship the weight and importance it deserves.

3. Make a plan.

You don’t need anything fancy, just pen and paper to create a road map for the partnership. Start simple and determine your goal, plus all the high-level steps you need to meet your goal.

Also, establish a timeline for each step. Use your partner check-in meetings to flesh out the details and deliberate on what’s working and not working as you move forward in your partnership.

4. Talk through the tangible actions you want to take to meet your goals.

Use your meeting time to share past experiences and what you’ve learned from them. You’d be surprised on how quickly a blue-sky idea can turn into reality when you talk it out with someone who’s been in your spot. Brainstorm ideas, and share resources and connections. Offer to make introductions when it’s appropriate.

Your accountability partnership is about connecting with someone who shares a similar perspective and who can help you think of new ways of tackling challenges or give you ideas and support for taking your business to the next level.

Remember, every meeting doesn’t have to be about the strategies you’re developing to grow your business. Sometimes, you just want someone to vent to, and that’s equally powerful. Growing your small business is about the grit, hard work, skills, and strategies you employ, and your accountability partner should be there to support all aspects of reaching your goals.

5. Give high-fives or a virtual shoulder to lean on.

A true partnership, like any relationship, is about celebrating the victories and supporting each other through defeats. Make a point to acknowledge and celebrate any victories along the way, and be open about setbacks and how to rebound from them.

If you want to take your business to the next level, but you’re floundering in your efforts, lean on an accountability partner. They’re your personal coach, advocate, and like-minded business peer. You’re more likely to connect with them on a real and honest level because you’re both going through similar challenges in your businesses. Consider road-testing a partnership against one of your small business goals and growing the relationship if you find it’s productive.

What do you think about finding and working with a peer to help you get to the next level? Do you have an accountability partner? Share your stories in the comments below.