Partnering for Success: The pros and cons of an accountability partner

Partnering for Success: The pros and cons of an accountability partner

I attended a peer mentoring session yesterday which had a mix of corporate leaders and SME owners. A key part of the session was accountability.  How did those that were in the ‘spotlight’ at the last meeting get on?  What actions did they agree to take and what results did they get?  There was no way for them to hide.

This sparked an interesting debate in the bar afterwards around accountability and if it was necessary for small business leaders.

When I worked in corporate, I received a spreadsheet every morning with the previous days revenue and margins as well as month to date and year to date v budget summaries.  Most days I was questioned if I was going to hit my target by the month end – there was nowhere to hide.

When you start up a small business, the pressure can be off.  You have nobody to answer to if you do/ don’t take action or do/ don’t hit your financial goals.  So it begs the question, “Do small business owners need an accountability partner?”.

Some say that if you need an accountability partner, you shouldn’t be running a business at all. Others say they need one to ensure they take action.

Having an accountability partner can be a game-changer for a small business owner.

Here are the key pros and cons as I see them:


  • Increased motivation and focus: An accountability partner can help you stay motivated and focused on your goals. Regular check-ins create a sense of responsibility, encouraging owners to prioritise their tasks and maintain momentum.
  • Objective feedback: An accountability partner provides an external perspective, offering objective feedback and constructive criticism.  A sounding board.  This can help you identify blind spots, refine strategies, and make better-informed decisions.
  • Emotional support: Running an SME can be isolating and stressful.  An accountability partner offers emotional support, helping you to manage stress and maintain a positive outlook, which is crucial for long-term success.
  • Improved goal setting: With an accountability partner, you are more likely to set clear, achievable and even stretched goals. They help break down these goals into manageable tasks and ensure consistent progress, enhancing overall productivity.
  • Enhanced problem-solving: Discussing challenges with an accountability partner can lead to new insights and innovative solutions. The collaborative approach fosters creative thinking and helps in overcoming obstacles more effectively.

I have a couple of clients who’ve told me, “You haven’t taught me anything new but knowing I am seeing you makes me action things I wouldn’t otherwise, because I don’t want my ass kicking!”


  • Time commitment: Regular meetings with an accountability partner require a time commitment, which can be challenging for busy SME owners.  Balancing these sessions with daily operations may require careful time management.  A great accountability partner should help you create even more time than you spend however.
  • Potential for dependency: There is a risk of becoming too reliant on the accountability partner.  You might struggle to make decisions independently if you overly depend on their input, although a great partner should teach and not tell.
  • Mismatched expectations: Differences in work styles, communication preferences, or business philosophies can lead to conflicts. If expectations are not aligned, the partnership can become counterproductive and stressful.  A key part of any successful intervention should be agreeing expectations up front.
  • Privacy concerns: Sharing detailed business information with an accountability partner may raise privacy concerns.  You need to ensure that your partner is trustworthy and that confidential information remains secure.
  • Compatibility issues: Finding the right accountability partner can be challenging. Compatibility in terms of business knowledge and experience, personal rapport, and commitment levels is essential for a successful partnership.  Do your homework, check testimonials and choose wisely.

In summary

An accountability partner can and will provide substantial benefits for you including increased motivation, objective feedback, and enhanced problem-solving capabilities. However, it’s crucial to consider potential drawbacks like time commitment, dependency, and compatibility issues.  By carefully selecting a compatible partner and establishing clear expectations, you can leverage this relationship to drive you and your business towards greater success.

Want to discuss? Book a free 30 minute Discovery Call.

Accountability partner Gary King Tendo Business Mentor Leeds