Internet marketing can be a lonely lifestyle. Sure, there are hundreds of forums, blogs, and conferences where you can connect with others, but even when you've been around for a while you can feel like you're all alone in your business. When you have little or no in-person connection with others who are in your position, you can start to feel like you are the only one on the Internet who's worried about how Google's latest decisions will affect your page rank, or who's having trouble updating to the latest version of WordPress. You can forget that there are thousands of others in a similar situation, asking themselves the same questions, struggling with the same issues.

Not only that, but those in your day-to-day life, who know you in the “offline world” do not have a clue what you're talking about, and oftentimes tend to bring more negativity than helpfulness to the picture even when they try to be on your side. Unfortunately, that can make you feel even more alone, especially when you have a setback and no one to help pull you through or to even just say “that happened to me, too!”

That's where having an accountability partner (or a small accountability group) can save the day.

Definition: Accountability partners are formalized relationships with one or more people who help keep you on task.

Here's what says:

An accountability partner is a person who coaches another person in terms of helping the other person keep a commitment. (The term) was originally used in connection with weight loss programs in the 1960’s.

What Is An Accountability Partner?

The phrase “accountability partner” is quite broad and encompasses a lot of territory. At its most basic, an accountability partner is someone you set up a formal relationship with, who will help provide support for your online business creation and growth. He or she is an unpaid consultant, someone you agree to work with to provide mutually beneficial support.

In its simplest terms, it's like having a business consultant who you don't pay. Instead you trade for each others consulting services. You make it your goal to help each other to succeed.

Accountability partners are like personal trainers for your business – different trainers have different personalities and different specialties. And you have different needs, too. If you're at the beginning of your business creation, you may need someone to help cheer you on. As you become more experienced and confident, you may need someone to push your boundaries and tell you when you're slacking.

Here are the main roles accountability partners can fulfill:

This type of partner can boost your confidence, give you assistance when you need it, and help you celebrate your successes. Think of running a marathon and having someone to hand you a cool drink at Mile 5, hold up a sign with your name on it at Mile 16, and greet you with a towel and a bag of ice at the finish line.

Co-travelers are at approximately the same point in their journey as you are. They're like students in the same year in high school or college; you're learning the same topics and implementing the same strategies and tools. Sometimes you help them, sometimes they help you, and sometimes you just muddle along, secure in the fact that you're both in the same place. (Picture a “Study Buddy”.)

Drill sergeant.
Everyone from Oprah to Olympian Michael Phelps has a trainer or coach who pushes them just a bit farther than they think they can go. Drill sergeant accountability partners serve as a whip-cracking, rear-end-kicker to keep you on task to the goals you've set and committed to.

Shoulder to cry on.
Every once in a while (hopefully, a very LONG while), things go nuts. Plans derail, projects fail, or you just want to tear your hair out because of technical issues. When Murphy's Law proves true, you may just need to vent to someone who knows what you're going through. That person can be your accountability partner.

Brainstorming partner.
Wondering what headline will convert best? Need some thoughts on what to offer as an opt-in “bribe” on your new mailing list? Trying to figure out the shortest path between Point A and Point B? Grab your accountability partner and start brainstorming.

Some of these roles probably appeal to you more than others. It all depends on your own personal needs and personality. Remember that your accountability partnership is determined by you and your partner – it can incorporate whatever you decide, including 6 AM jogging buddy, lunch date, or blogging partner.

Stay tuned for the rest of this article which has of necessity been broken into a series:

  1. Accountability Partners For Internet Marketers
  2. Setting up An Accountability Partnership
  3. Live and In Person: Setting up an “IRL” Accountability Partner
  4. Virtual Accountability Partners
  5. Mentoring Partnerships
  6. The More the Merrier? Partners versus Groups
  7. Five Tips for Great Accountability Partnerships
  8. Trouble-shooting Your Accountability Partnership
  9. Online Resources For Accountability Partners
  10. Next Steps In Your Accountability Partnership
  11. Conclusion
Author's Bio: 

Denise Griffitts

Virtual Assistance Industry Expert

Web Developer - Your Office On The Web

Serial Online Entrepreneur - Denise

Host of "Your Partner In Success" Radio Show