If you head a startup company as a founder or CEO, having the total freedom to execute as you see fit may be part of what motivated you to take the position in the first place.
But freedom shouldn’t be mistaken for a lack of accountability. Building a framework of accountability will ensure that you stay on track for completing projects, accomplishing goals and realizing the vision you set forth for your company.
Here are six suggestions to make yourself accountable as head of your startup:
1. Separate the CEO role from the chairman's.
This is a growing trend at public companies and increasingly recognized as a way to foster good governance: If a company has several co-founders, one can take the CEO position while another the chairmanship.
Or you can find an independent director, who can provide an outside perspective, to perform the role of chairman.
2. Recruit an advisory board.
A good startup advisory board will provide complementary skills to a CEO and help make the leader become aware of blind spots.
By working regularly with an advisory board, you are committing to moving forward on areas of the business that may be outside your comfort zone. So recruit members for an advisory board.
3. Join a peer advisory group.
It can be tremendously helpful to get feedback from other entrepreneurs facing similar challenges by participating in a peer advisory group. I’m a skeptic-turned-fan of an advisory group in Washington, D.C., Netcito, which convenes monthly. Entrepreneurs hear about and respond to the big thorny issues of their peers -- and keep one another accountable for taking steps to resolve them.
4. Find an individual coach.
Individual coaches can help keep you on track when tackling specific business or personal issues that affect the management of your startup. For example, there's the International Coach Federation with thousands of members.
For specific issues (such as health and wellness coaching), one of my company's clients, Capital Health Coach ECN, makes coaches available telephonically. For as little as $40 you can have a one-on-one session with a wellness coach.
5. Privately commit your goals to writing.
There are plenty of competitive reasons to not publicly share your goals. But sitting down on a yearly basis to privately write down your startup’s goals for the next 12 months is a good practice. Or write a letter to your current self from your future self (five years from that day): This can help make you more accountable to your long-term vision.
6. Find a venture capitalist or angel investor.
Not everyone has a business that's ready for an investor but if yours is, this should be done with caution as it can come with strings attached and risks.
A bad investment partner can cripple your business while a good one can help your business soar.
Startups lack the structure and formalities of their larger company counterparts. Creating mechanisms to keep yourself accountable to your vision, goals and tactics can be one critical ingredient to help you realize your startup’s ultimate success.