I get it—accountability is not the sexiest of entrepreneurial topics. Humor me and read on. I will make a case for why it is so essential to your long-term success. I will hold myself accountable for brevity and for providing actionable information. Accountability is the eighth of the Tardigrade traits.
Tardigrades have accountability and rigor infused throughout the business. They are committed to financial and performance reviews. Key stakeholders are held responsible for having clear objectives measured by well-defined key results. They plan, they forecast, they execute.
When most people think of accountability, they think of it on a personal level. Let’s start there: Holding yourself accountable for everything you do as a founder is a linchpin to achievement. That requires you to set and communicate clear deliverables. When those around you see and understand that you hold yourself to a high standard, it supports a culture of accountability.
Financial and performance reviews are another critical component. Too many early-stage brands discount the importance of holding formal reviews. However, doing so makes the business more predictable and promotes pro-action rather than reaction. If you get into the habit of reviews, you discover patterns, learn more about how the business ticks and issues before they become problems.
Stakeholder accountability is another vital aspect of this Tardigrade trait. Let me first define what I mean by a stakeholder. These are the people who are invested in the brand, not only those committed monetarily but also those committed emotionally, transactionally and contractually. I am talking about advisors, brokers, service providers and employees.
Every stakeholder should have clear deliverables and timelines. They should be held responsible and hold each other to a high standard. This ensures that everyone is working toward the same set of goals and desired outcomes.
I’ve delivered brevity now, let me provide actionable specifics. None of the above has to be complicated or time-consuming. I’ll start with the financials. Each month, a quick review of the P&L, Cash Flow, Balance Sheet and Aging must be done. You are looking for outliers. It is much easier to manage exceptions than to attempt to control everything. Establishing a simple set of KPIs (key performance indicators) for each stakeholder is another must. This can be done in the form of a “dashboard” of agreed-upon metrics that would be updated monthly. Another option would be to develop OKRs (objectives and key results) for each person. These are typically done in 90-day increments. There are plenty of resources available that support the construction of either KPIs or OKRs.
Every month, you should bring your team together. You don’t need to bring everyone simultaneously, but you should at least do it by functional area. Reviews should be sacred, not glossed over or loosely-goosey. They should be held on the same date and time each month. This approach supports that culture of accountability.
That is it—a brief, actionable article on accountability. Bring it into your business and you’ll be more effective and successful. Accountability might not be sexy, but it’s powerful, and that is why it is one of the 10 Tardigrade traits.
Elliot Begoun is the Principal of The Intertwine Group, a practice focused on helping emerging food and beverage brands grow.