Are you ready to get started in your nutrition business or to level up? An accountability buddy is a valuable partner. Here is why you might consider developing a relationship with one (or more than one) accountability buddy to grow your small business.
What is an accountability buddy?
An accountability buddy is a trusted partner who is also working on their business. Together, you’ll provide support, advice, a listening ear and accountability to goals, both lofty and small.
A constructive relationship with an accountability buddy involves mutual respect, a growth mindset as well as vulnerability.
What’s the difference between an accountability buddy and a mentor or coach?
While we’re defining terms, an accountability buddy is not exactly the same thing as a mentor or coach.
Typically a mentor is someone who is further along in their entrepreneurial journey; a mentor might be unpaid. A mentor might be offering their wisdom and expertise as an opportunity to pay it forward in the field, by helping you.
A coach is someone who you hire to help you take the next step in your business. No one knows everything – that’s for darn sure – so a coach is someone who you hire to save you time earning your own mistakes. It is a different sort of accountability than a peer accountability buddy.
There are benefits of all kinds of supports to your business. I 100% believe in and recommend having paid coaching. But, an accountability buddy can get you started taking action, without having to tap into limited resources. As you make more money in your business, reinvest in yourself with paid trainings and also hiring a coach.
How can an accountability buddy help?
Offer a different perspective
In my experience, entrepreneurs tend to see the world a bit differently than the typical employee in a 9 to 5 role.
And you may be surrounded by 9 to 5-ers.
They mean well, but oftentimes their advice won’t resonate with you and may even hold you back. A successful entrepreneur will have an optimistic, growth mindset instead of an employee mindset or one held back by fear of failure.
It doesn’t mean that being an entrepreneur is padded from fear. Of course not. Growth happens when we get outside of our comfort zone. Entrepreneurs just tend to have a greater tolerance for this discomfort in the process of building something completely their own. (And we grow that tolerance for fear and risk-taking with practice)
An accountability buddy can help to reduce overwhelm. By setting goals – reasonable goals – to stick to between each meeting, you know what you’re working on, and by process of elimination, what you’re not working on.
Early on in my journey to be an entrepreneur, I was getting my business started alongside working my main full-time job. My buddy directly asked me, “how many hours a week do you have to dedicate to your business?” I felt like the world stopped turning for a moment as I considered this question that probably should have been basic.
But the thing is, when we are overwhelmed by “enough” and “too much” kind of worries, it helps to drill down to measurable things. No one has endless time. And working on a business alongside other commitments – another job, your partnerships, your family, actually having free time, hobbies, etc – you have to have boundaries.
I wasn’t willing to work 24/7 on my business, and I didn’t have to. To concretely say that I had 5-10 hours to work on my business immediately drew me to focus on the most important tasks and to let the rest of that shit go.
Having an accountability buddy can help you see the forest for the trees. It’s awesome.
There is nothing quite like being seen and understood by peers who are in the same damn boat.
Entrepreneurship can be a wild ride and isn’t for the faint of heart. But really, we can all do it if we continue to take action towards our dreams, reflect and reassess and keep going.
It is so valuable to be able to hear “that is normal” or “I was there, too” as you’re wondering if you’re the only person struggling with that one particular thing (you’re not).
Sometimes you just need to run things by someone else. That’s ok.
But when you’re not in an office with fellow peers, things can suddenly feel really lonely.
Is that person totally out of line, or was it me?
I just don’t know what to do, right now.
Getting stuck on a little thing – that suddenly feels huge – can knock the wind out of your sails. The quicker you can connect with a fellow entrepreneur and ask, the faster your confidence will reboot.
Having an accountability buddy allows you to relish in that sigh of relief when you connect with someone who has been there, through the highs and lows of entrepreneurship.
The wins are coming (I promise) and who better to celebrate them with than a fellow amazing entrepreneur, who really really gets how hard-won those wins can be.
How to have a productive accountability buddy partnership.
In many ways, a constructive accountability buddy follows the same rules of any friendship or relationship.
Be authentic. This isn’t the time to cover your hurts or to pretend to be somewhere you’re not. Just show up – as you – and work on taking the next steps forward in your business.
Keep the conversation on business more than the rest of your life. Working with your accountability buddy isn’t happy hours and gossip time, it’s business. Use your time well to grow your business and to support your accountability buddy.
Stay positive and solution-oriented, instead of negative and frustrated all the time. Look: we all have our bad days and need to lean on our buddies and friends. But you don’t want to stay there, being a negative nancy. Some days are harder than others – say, in a pandemic – but do your best to focus on the solutions instead of wallowing in the problems.
Don’t assume that everyone wants your feedback and ideas. Ask: are you looking to vent or looking for suggestions right now? Sometimes we need to get things out on the table so that we can start picking through things ourselves. (This is a message to myself, too, as I tend to assume everyone wants advice…they don’t).
Set measurable goals. Just like our nutrition clients need guidance about goal setting in a practical, measurable (not to mention realistic) way, we do too. Setting goals and circling back to them in the next meeting is how we make progress.
Tip: don’t just write down your own goals, write them down for your partner, too. It shows you were listening and are ready to see their progress.
Check-in regularly. I like meeting once per week. It forces you to keep goals more doable and offers support and course-correcting if things have gone off the rails a bit since you last met.
Can you have more than one accountability buddy?
Yes! I currently have three!
I am in a writer’s group that is not nutrition-focused, called Write Your Way to Freedom (I wrote a review about that, here). I meet with two fellow copywriters once per week in Zoom and touch base via Facebook Messenger occasionally as we have questions or wins.
In that trio, I am a bit further along in my business and offer some of the perspectives of an entrepreneur once you have more regular clients.
I am also an accountability buddy to my fellow dietitian entrepreneur buddy in the Dietitian HQ Society (<– affiliate link). Lately, we have been touching base once per week via Facebook Messenger because the days are feeling a bit full to do calls right now, and that’s ok!
In that relationship, we’re more nutrition-focused and she has been in her business longer and offers that perspective to me a bit more. Her business is more nutrition counseling focused than writing, but we both offer copywriting services.
Can an accountability buddy help your business grow stronger?
If you’re looking for accountability with your blogging, please check out The RD Blog Club where I provide you with support to write one amazing (not to mention, effective) blog for your nutrition business.