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Reframe Excuses and Embrace Accountability

Reframe Excuses and Embrace Accountability

The fun part of being an entrepreneur is that you get to “be your own boss” and “do things your way.” But sometimes entrepreneurs forget that this kind of freedom comes with a price of personal accountability. Accountability means “the buck stops here,” and “all the failures are mine.”

Too many people seem to do whatever it takes to avoid accountability, both before and after the fact. I suspect that this is largely caused by a fear of the unknown, and a lack of confidence in their own abilities. People with confidence problems and fear problems should avoid the entrepreneur role, since success without accountability is rare.

Here are ten ways to reframe excuses and take accountability in a positive way:

Before After
“I’d love to start a new company, but nobody will invest in me.” “My idea is so big, I will bootstrap the business myself if I have to.”
“I’ll do the best I can, but the economy is totally unpredictable right now.” “Even in a down economy, there are some things that everyone needs.”
“Investors always seem to put such unreasonable restrictions of me.” “I really appreciate the real-world guidelines I get from my investors.”
“I can’t seem to find employees who are committed to my business.” “I couldn’t do this job without the full support of my team.”
“Customer expectations these days can be unreasonable.” “Exceeding customer expectations is my competitive advantage.”
“Every time I try outsourcing manufacturing, I get quality problems.” “I select vendors carefully, and manage them well, to keep my costs down.”
“If there were just more hours in a day, I could get the job done right.” “With limited time, I’ve learned to focus only on key issues, and delegate the rest.”
“Investors want five-year projections, which is ridiculous considering all the unknowns.” “I recognize that financial projections are commitments, so I don’t take them lightly.”
“My family expects me to always be there at a moment’s notice.” “With the support of my family, I can walk that fine line between family and business.”
“My biggest challenge is make sure everyone is carrying their weight.” “I trust my team, and I’m convinced that the total is more than the sum of the parts.”

If you are not yet ready to commit, you should consider getting more experience in your relevant business domain, or taking on a partner who has run a small business. Don’t assume that your perspective as an employee gives you a real view of the founder’s role. Also you shouldn’t assume that your experience in a large public company is applicable to running a startup.

Some entrepreneurs feel they can control other people by “holding them accountable.” This doesn’t work in the negative, because only personal accountability counts. It can work in the positive if you work in partnership with the team to get the outcomes you both seek, making you jointly accountable.

Entrepreneurship is all about assuming a risk for a reward, and accountability is core to generating the desired results. To make it work, you must trust yourself, your partners, and your startup. You should find there is a thrill and satisfaction to making decisions and standing behind them.

The next step is employee accountability. That’s the win-win combination that almost always leads to startup success. Are you there yet?


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Author(s) (other articles by )
Original Publication DateAugust 30, 2011
Related categoriesNuts & Bolts, People & Management

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  • Steve

    Thanks for this article. I think a more direct way to describe accountability would be “Accountability means you are responsible for the completion of this task.” If you fail, you cannot blame anyone else. Even if you were in the middle of a hurricane, you can’t say I didn’t get it done because there was a hurricane. You can say “I chose not to do it because there was a hurricane, and the risk of losing my life was more important than finishing the task.”

    > I suspect that this is largely caused by a fear of the unknown, and a lack of confidence in their own abilities. 

    Yes, I agree. If you do not have the confidence that you will be able to complete the task., then you are pre-judging that you will fail, and since most people do not want to be embarrassed by a failure, they avoid commitment, and avoid being accountable. 

    So yes, it is important that Entrepreneurs are confident, but not to extremes. They can’t be TOO confident, nor over-confident. They must intelligently balance risk with confidence, and back it up with solid plans and skillful execution. Yikes, now I’m starting to sound like an author :)

  • Ragsrajeev

    Hi
    Excellent article and I completely agree that in case there is an iota of doubt one should wait for the appropirate time and gain more expertise before venturing into enterpreneurship. The rest will follow.