Goals, love them or hate them every business owner no matter what stage of the business life cycle they are at needs them. They can help you live the dream or create a business nightmare.
Done right, goal setting can help budding entrepreneurs and small business owners make their fantasy a reality. Good goals can provide motivation to move forward, a clear path in terms of direction and a way to measure progress.
Done badly, goal setting can destroy all of that and leave us in business limbo. Poor goals can demotivate, cause confusion leading to poor decision making, fail to identify small, but significant progress.
"Your dreams are only dreams until you write them down...
then they are goals."
Just as in life, sometimes the best way to learn from something is to fail at it. Unfortunately for small business owners like us, we can’t afford to make fundamental mistakes. However, the principle of learning from what not to do is a good one.
By sharing my knowledge and encouraging collaboration, I hope to help business owners like you to avoid the pitfalls of marketing planning. So, here are six common mistakes small business owners make for you to avoid when goal setting.
6 Common Mistakes Made When Goal Setting
#1 Failure to clarify the current situation
I get it, you’re on cloud 9 about launching your business or new product or service offering and want to shout it from the rooftops, but before you do hit pause. The only way we can rationally decide what we want in the future and how to get there is to know where we are right now and how satisfied we are with it.
Clarifying your current situation provides an objective way to look at your achievements so far and the vision you have for your future. This will help you to identify some of your strengths and weaknesses and where you need to go.
Understanding where you are now will give you with a baseline to work from. Write it down! You can then revisit this periodically to see how much ground you are gaining, which should help motivate you to continue your journey.
ACTION: Take a couple of hours this week to evaluate and reflect.
#2 Having a vague “big picture”
Running your own business is exciting and scary. The desire and need for sales can put us on an endless treadmill of to-do list delivery meaning many start-ups fail to take time out to dream and see the “big picture” and crystalise their business vision.
As humans, we have an amazing ability to not only dream but chase those dreams – and not just chase them, but the intellectual ability to formulate plans and strategies to achieve those dreams!
If you have taken the time to clarify your current situation and now know where you dream of getting to, you can begin to build the path that connects the two.
ACTION: Take time to be quiet and schedule some “dream-time”.
#3 Setting unaligned or too many goals
You have probably heard the proverb “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” and this can be true of goal setting. Who here is guilty of setting too many goals or creating endless to-do lists that take them off track? I know I am!
An alternative form of the proverb is “hell is full of good meanings, but heaven is full of good works” supporting the notion of quality over quantity.
Breaking your large-scale goals up into mini goals and targets you must hit to achieve your “big picture” will help to motivate you and keep you on the right path.
ACTION: Revisit your goals at one-month, quarterly, six-month and annual intervals.
#4 Setting undefined and unrealistic goals
Setting undefined or unrealistic goals is probably the most common mistake when goal setting. By doing so, you may find you are chasing an impossible dream, something not entirely feasible.
While it is important to dream and set the bar high, once you have decided on a goal you need to make sure it is realistic, and that you can achieve it in the time frame you have set yourself.
To set realistic goals, use the SMART Goal Setting technique to ensure they are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound.
ACTION: Set SMART goals and remember to reward yourself on completion!
#5 Failure to action plan
Some business owners confuse to-do lists with action planning. Creating a long list of things to do might make you feel better temporarily but it is more likely to cause overwhelm than be an effective use of your time.
An action plan is a document that lists what steps must be taken to achieve a specific goal. The purpose of the plan is to clarify what resources are needed to help you reach that goal, formulate a timeline for when specific tasks need to be completed and determine what resources are required.
You can use to-do lists alongside your action plan to help you focus on working on something each day towards your dream, just be mindful they are not the same thing. Keep lists short and focused.
ACTION: Create a plan of action for each of your mini goals.
#6 Failure to review progress
Getting caught up in the day job means small business owners are often guilty of taking time out to review progress, but it can help us progress quicker!
It takes time to realise your goals and sometimes it can feel like you are not making much progress. Periodically reviewing your progress can help you to see just how far you’ve come and acknowledge small but significant milestones.
Goals should never be set in stone. Regular reviews help to spot things that aren’t working, giving you the opportunity to fix or tweak them to reflect changing priorities. Remember, even if you don’t achieve everything, you’ll learn something!
ACTION: Build in one-month, quarterly, half yearly and annual reviews.
Now you know what not to do when it comes to goal setting you can avoid a business nightmare
and focus on growing your business and living the dream. The important thing is to start somewhere – plan, stick your stake in the ground and review regularly. Still not sure how to plan those goals? Check out my info-graphic for my 6 Top Tips For Smashing Your Goals.
I’d love to know what you think about goal setting, how you find it and what role it plays in your marketing plans. Please comment below!
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