According to those who have been there before, the key to success in law or business school is getting in with the right study group. These partners not only give you buddies to study with, they keep you accountable and on-task. If you let yourself down, you let down the whole group.
Finding accountability partners can be key to a successful entrepreneurial venture, too. Finding a group to support your efforts, help you brainstorm problems, and keep you on schedule can mean the difference between passing and failing. Here’s what to look for in your own “study group:”
- Variety of skills. The best groups have members with expertise in different areas. The former tax accountant, the paralegal, the sales trainer can all advise each other and provide different perspectives on the same topics. If everyone is in the same industry with the same background, you may have a lot in common, but you won’t be able to brainstorm as effectively.
- Similar commitment level. The most important element may very well be a common level of commitment to your goals, whatever they may be. If one member is a little lax and the others are all gung-ho, the mismatch will soon drive everyone crazy and cause bad feelings.
- Regular meeting times. Whether you’re meeting by Skype, in person, or in a chat room, make a regular – weekly or monthly – appointment, and keep it! Nothing will submarine a group faster than no-shows or constantly changing meeting times.
- Accountability process. There needs to be some carrot or stick to ensure that members stick to their goals. If there’s no reward or pain associated with the goals, the likelihood of following up will decrease.
- Structured meeting. The meeting doesn’t have to be scripted down to the last minute with a pre-released agenda, but at least having a time limit on each member will ensure no one hogs the whole time – or never shares his or her progress at all.
- Resource-sharing. One of the most valuable roles an accountability group can play is providing recommendations and referrals. Looking for a great graphic designer, bookkeeper, or webmaster? Your “study group” should be your first stop.
One final thing to keep in mind is that accountability groups, like friendships, are created differently. Some will last a season as you launch your business; some may last only a few weeks or months. Be ready to let your group go if it’s no longer fitting your needs. It will be hard, but if it’s not helping you further your goal, it may be time to move up and on.