When Your Business Goals Fail
In ”It Always Starts With Vision“, we clarified what you intend your business to become. And that’s all well and good but having goals that leave you spinning your wheels or sending you in different directions will leave your small business in limbo. Goal writing can be harder than it sounds. Without clear specifics, measurements, deadlines or accountability embedded in the written goal, it’s a bit like driving your car in the fog. The road is there but it’s not clear what’s ahead of you. In fact, without clear and focused goals, you may as well let your business fail.
Badly written goals lead to failure. Failure lies in 2 parts. The first is when the goals are too vague so you can’t execute. A good example is “We’re going to connect with my target market.” You know what you mean, sort of. It probably is some kind of combination where you network or speak to groups. It can also mean someone in your organization is doing something in social media or doing a media interview. All of these are really separate goals. The problem with just saying, “We’re going to connect with my target market” is that there is no clear beginning point. Do you connect in print, online, or in-person? What kind of connection? When? Who cares?
This is a good way to set the stage for procrastination. In organizations, this can look like endless meetings where people come up with reasons why one thing will work better than something else but no one will be responsible for leading the action. In sole proprietorships, it can look like a lot of busy work without any movement towards getting in front of more people who might be interested in your business.
The second part is when the goals having nothing to do with the “why” of your business. You pursue something that is tangential to your business. Maybe you’ve been thinking about adding a service or product to what you already offer your clients and you’ve run across this wonderful opportunity. It’s important to evaluate if the opportunity is completely consistent with the purpose of your business. I made this mistake a few years ago when I decided to offer a program that could have focused on women business owners and how they think about money and success. Sure it had to do with managing beliefs and anxiety about performance (big part of my coaching) but I attracted professional women (not small business owners) and it didn’t focus entirely on building a business (business results are crucial to my coaching process). It was an almost match and I didn’t listen to my gut. My “why” is to use short-term coaching cycles and collaborate with my clients so they feel confident in identifying and developing strategies to be more effective leaders, plan more creatively, innovate, and overcome the fears and obstacles that interfere with building the businesses they truly want. Yeah, the program didn’t work and I had to pay for a license that was a bad investment.
Limbo stinks! No matter the size of your small business, limping along while you are wishing you were doing something more exciting or fulfilling is a waste of time! What would happen if you sat down (or even stood up) for a scheduled length of time and the only agenda item was to write one goal fully out so it is specific, measurable, time-limited and a no-brainer to put into action. Last but never, ever least, who would provide the accountability for you (or whoever is assigned) to see how the goal has been followed through?
How are your business goals failing to produce the results you want?