What is it they say about the best laid plans? I think it's something about planning being futile when you aren't certain of what the actual outcome will be.

That may be true if you make plans or goals in your business and you don't have a strategy in place to roll it out, but it can also be true if you don't have someone there to make sure it gets done.

Who are you accountable to in your business?

You are a small business owner. You probably work on your own for the most part (maybe with some support of your own, but maybe not yet).

So who keeps you on track? Do you do it yourself? Do you ever let yourself 'slide'?

You know what I mean ... you schedule an upcoming event, or a new product launch or a new program ... and then you panic and slide the date back several times when you don't get the planning pieces done on time. We've all done it.

If you do this regularly (come on, it's a habit, you can admit it!) then you need to connect with someone who can help keep you on track.

In order to grow your business, you need to put support in place, and that means in the department of accountability too. You select your dates on your calendar for a reason, and obviously with forethought and your plan for rolling out that product or program. So why don't you have someone helping you stay on track?

You can have a buddy, and accountability partner, a mentor or a coach - anyone who suits you.

Here are some tips on how to manage an accountability relationship:

Talk regularly. If you are paying a coach, you will already have scheduled calls available to you. You may even have email support. Use it. Make sure that you check in regularly with whoever is holding you accountable for your business development. If you are working with a volunteer (for lack of a better word!), make sure you schedule regular calls with that person and keep the appointments so that you are always committing to make the time for yourself and your business. How often you talk is really up to you - you can schedule your calls daily, weekly or biweekly, but I wouldn't have fewer than 2 calls per month - the time gets away on you too quickly. Ideally you would want to check in once a week by phone.

Set realistic goals. If you are talking with your accountability person weekly, then set realistic goals for what you want to get done before the next call. Have a look at your schedule and make sure that you have scheduled the time to do whatever it is you say you want to do. If you don't schedule your homework or goals into your calendar, you may run the risk of not getting it done, or doing it poorly because you have to rush it.

Do your homework. Nothing is worse than having a plan to get something done before your next check in, and then not doing it. If you say you are going to do something, get it done. If you don't do it, you are not valuing the time of the person who is taking time out of their schedule to support you, and you are not valuing your own time either.

Offer constructive support to others. If you are in a situation where you are reciprocating the accountability for your buddy or partner (in the instance of working with a coach or mentor it's usually a one-way relationship), then be sure to offer constructive and solid support for that person. They have identified, as have you, that support and gentle prodding is needed to keep goals on track, so be sure to provide that.

Consider forming a group. If you work better in a group situation, consider forming an accountability group. Keep your group to four members or fewer (especially if you do weekly phone calls, which will run longer with more people). Or maybe have a group call once a month and then buddy up for more frequent calls.

The whole idea with accountability is that it will help you to focus on your business plans when you need to. It's easy to put your own work off to the side when you get busy with client work.

Hold yourself accountable for your plans and your goals by sharing them with someone who will help you stay on track. You will get things done that you want to get done in your business, and you will recognize more success as a result.

And it should go without saying, as soon as you feel that the time is right, be sure to start working with a mentor or a coach. You will find that getting the guidance from someone who has already been in your shoes can help you easily break through many of the obstacles that you will come upon in your business. Sometimes you can't see the path ahead, and getting the support of someone who is on the other side of the obstacles is a smart move to save you time and heartache.

Take the time to strategically plan what you want to do. Then do it. It's a pretty simple plan if you think about it!

Author's Bio: 

Tracey D’Aviero is a successful Virtual Assistant as well as a VA coach and mentor. She helps new and aspiring Virtual Assistants build solid foundations for their businesses by teaching them how to put procedures and plans in place for success and growth. Pick up a copy of Tracey’s free ebook “3 Way To Get The Clients You Want!” at www.yourvamentor.com