Harnessing Commitment Devices: A strategy for entrepreneurial success

Posted in News & Press  ·  3rd April 2024

In the fast-paced world of entrepreneurship, sticking to your goals and plans can be challenging. Commitment devices are powerful tools that can help you stay on track and achieve your business objectives. These are strategies or mechanisms that bind you to your goals, making it harder to deviate from them. Here’s how entrepreneurs can use commitment devices to boost their chances of success:

What are commitment devices?

Commitment devices are actions or agreements that lock you into a course of action, helping to overcome procrastination, distractions, or the temptation to abandon your goals. They leverage human psychology to ensure you follow through on your commitments.

Types of commitment devices for entrepreneurs

  1. Financial Stakes: Invest money in your goals. For example, prepaying for a business course or committing funds to a project can motivate you to see it through.
  2. Social Accountability: Share your goals with others. Announce your plans to your team, mentors, or on social media to create external pressure to follow through.
  3. Contracts and Agreements: Create binding agreements. Draft contracts with clear consequences for not meeting milestones or deadlines.
  4. Technology Tools: Use apps and software to track progress and set reminders. Tools like Trello, Asana, or Habitica can keep you on task and accountable.
  5. Self-Imposed Penalties: Set up penalties for failure. This could be a fine paid to a colleague or a donation to a cause you dislike if you don’t meet your goals.

Implementing commitment devices

  1. Set Clear Goals: Define what you want to achieve with specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals.
  2. Choose the Right Device: Pick a commitment device that suits your personality and business context. What motivates you the most? Financial stakes, social pressure, or technology tools?
  3. Be Consistent: Regularly review your progress and adjust your strategies as needed. Consistency is key to making commitment devices effective.
  4. Involve Others: Engage mentors, colleagues, or a coach to provide support and accountability. Their encouragement can help you stay motivated.

Benefits of commitment devices

  1. Enhanced Focus: Commitment devices help you maintain focus by reducing distractions and reinforcing your dedication to your goals.
  2. Increased Motivation: Knowing that there are stakes involved (financial, social, or personal) can boost your motivation to succeed.
  3. Better Time Management: Commitment devices encourage you to manage your time more effectively, prioritising tasks that align with your goals.
  4. Higher Success Rates: By reducing the likelihood of procrastination and increasing accountability, commitment devices can significantly improve your chances of achieving your goals.


Commitment devices are invaluable tools for entrepreneurs looking to stay on track and achieve their business objectives. By setting clear goals, choosing the right commitment devices, and involving others in your journey, you can enhance your focus, motivation, and overall success.

For more tips on entrepreneurial strategies and achieving your business goals, visit our website and explore our range of resources and events.

Recommended Reading and References

  1. “Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness” by Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein: This book explores how subtle changes in the environment can nudge people towards better decisions, including the use of commitment devices.
  2. “Stick with It: A Scientifically Proven Process for Changing Your Life – for Good” by Sean D. Young: Provides insights into the psychology of habit formation and the role of commitment devices in maintaining long-term goals.
  3. “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business” by Charles Duhigg: Discusses the science behind habit formation and how commitment devices can reinforce positive habits.
  4. Research Paper: “Commitment Devices” by Dean Karlan and John A. List: Explores various types of commitment devices and their effectiveness in improving decision-making and goal adherence. Available here.

Using these resources, you can gain a deeper understanding of how commitment devices work and how to effectively implement them in your entrepreneurial journey.

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