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How to an accountability chart in a small business

Before you have an accountability chart in a small business, roles are fuzzy and essential tasks are more likely to fall through the cracks, leading to a last-minute panic. Creating a written organizational structure makes a huge difference in overall efficiency. While there will still be a ton of things to get done, you'll have a clear set of priorities that will help you stay more focused and accountable for specific aspects of the business.


Here is a quick guide to get you started:


Step 1: Create Departments by starting with the 3 elements common to every business:


Open a new PowerPoint, keynote or google drawing doc - anything that will allow you to create a simple layout. Draw 3 boxes with the 3 core functions of every business:


  1. Sales and marketing - every business needs to generate sales

  2. Operations - every business needs to fulfill on the promises it makes to customers by delivering products or services

  3. Financial and Admin Functions - every business needs to keep track of its finances and insure that its infrastructure is maintained.


Step 2: Bucket more specific roles under each of the 3 main functions


Each business has its own nuances, but here is a quick list of some of the most common roles that you can adapt to your company's structure:


Sales & Marketing

  • Website maintenance

  • Online Marketing

  • PR

  • Lead Generation

  • Opportunity Management

  • Account management

Operations

  • Customer Service

  • Shipping and Fulfillment

  • Product Development

Financial and Admin

  • Book Keeping

  • Accounting

  • Office Management

  • IT

  • HR

  • Financing



Step 3: Assign a specific person to lead each department and own each role.


Since You’ll each be taking on numerous titles, it helps to also be specific by adding a few high-level responsibilities under the title. Don't get bogged down by trying to find every last detail of the seat, just stick to broad strokes.



Step 4: Define the Executive Leadership Structure


When there are 2 leaders in an organization they’ll ideally have complementary personality types:


  1. Visionary: The Creative Thinker - this personality brings a ton of energy and innovative ideas. They’re often great at relationships and may have a larger personality - but they tend to be weaker on follow through.

  2. Integrator: The organizational Thinker - this personality tends to be well organized, and strong at systems thinking. They may not be quite as strong at spotting opportunities but once the direction is defined, they are the person who will insure it gets done right.


I’m going to introduce a potentially controversial idea here, so please hear me through. While you may value the idea of equality in your partnership, I strongly advise giving a single person the final word in order to avoid organizational deadlock. In the case of equal partnerships, this person should always be the Integrator


Why? Because you can have a business without a creative thinker but you can’t have a business without an organizational thinker. At the end of the day, a mediocre idea that is well executed will trump a brilliant idea that is poorly executed.


If you have serious questions about what role each partner will play it may be an indication of more fundamental problems in the partnership. That’s why it’s best to have this conversation early on, so you can avoid bigger pitfalls down the road when there is more at stake.


Conclusion


There are 4 steps to creating an accountability chart

  1. Start with the three elements common to every business to create your departments: Sales and Marketing, Operations, Finance & Admin

  2. Bucket the roles specific to your business under the three departments

  3. Assign a person to each role

  4. Define your executive leadership structure


Creating an accountability chart is one of the first things you should look at when planning your business. In addition to creating clear roles and responsibilities, an accountability structure is a valuable strategic planning tool allowing you to spot current gaps and plan the next hires so that you can focus on where you deliver the most value.


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