If you’re a small business owner, you probably have some idea of what you’d like to achieve in the next few months, year, five years, ten years and so on. But knowing where you want to go isn’t enough to get there. You need to set goals for yourself and hold yourself accountable.

Accountability is key to moving your small business forward. Through holding yourself responsible — and asking your team to hold you responsible — for meeting deadlines, getting things done, and achieving your goals, your business can really start to take off.

But accountability isn’t always easy to achieve. If you’re used to setting a deadline but not really caring whether or not you meet it, those bad habits can be difficult to break. But it’s one of the things you need to do to be a successful small business owner.

What Does Accountability Mean for the Small Business Owner?

As a small business owner, there is more to being accountable than just getting your work done. When you hold yourself responsible for the tasks you say you’re going to accomplish, you become a more reliable business owner. Your staff will know they can count on you and your clients know they can trust you.

Accountability is important for any small business owner because it is what keeps the business moving. If you suddenly stop holding yourself responsible for the tasks you say you’re going to accomplish, the entire system is thrown off. Your employees won’t know what to do, your clients will become frustrated, and it will be more difficult to get your business to the next step.

But what can you do you to make yourself more accountable? Let’s take a look at some tips for improving your accountability.

1. Create a Prioritized Task List

You probably have some idea of what you need to get done and when it needs to be accomplished, but if you’re not creating a physical list of tasks you could miss something important. Whether you choose to keep a traditional pen and paper to-do list or you want to take to an app to document your priorities, have something you can refer to that tells you what you need to get done.

Order your tasks starting with the most important. What do you need to get done before you can begin work on anything else? What comes next? Select two or three main priorities for the day and hold yourself accountable for getting them done.

2. Do First Things First

When you have a lot on your plate, you may try to multitask to get more done in less time. Unfortunately, multitasking only means your attention will be split in so many directions that nothing is accomplished.

Finish your first task before you move onto the second. Until that first task is completed, pretend like the second task doesn’t even exist. Until your main priority is finished, don’t worry about anything else.

3. Shorten Deadlines

If you’re constantly pushing it to the last minute to accomplish your tasks, you’re really not saving much time. Instead, you’re spending too much time on a task that can be done faster. When you finish your task list faster, you can get more done — allowing you to get ahead of your list.

Trick yourself into working more efficiently by shortening your deadlines. Instead of writing down a project due date on the day it actually needs to be completed, make your personal due date a few days before. You’ll feel less rushed and will have more time to spend on completing other tasks.

Share your goals, tasks, and due dates with your team or partner. Tell them what your plan is and when you will have it finished. By sharing your intentions with someone else on your team, you know you’re letting someone down if you don’t reach your goal. This can provide you with another layer of accountability to get things done.

If you’re not an accountable small business owner, it can be difficult for anyone to rely on you. But with these tips for gaining and maintaining accountability, you can show your team and clients that you’re serious about the work you’re doing.