I read an interesting comment on a forum recently. A commenter said that many business owners are “too busy trying to build castles on top of quicksand to stop and think about the bigger picture and make strategic goals.”
What a good point!
Business goals are vital. It’s not just about financial targets either. It can be about awareness targets or reach, internal operations targets or branding results. Whatever the goals are, it’s vital that businesses: a) have some, and b) understand what they are and how they’re going to get there. In other words, they need a plan.
All things considered, these are the top 5 reasons why entrepreneurs don’t meet their business goals.
1. A failure to plan
Remember that old adage: “If you fail to plan, you should plan to fail?” Benjamin Franklin knew what he was talking about.
You need a strategy to move from point A to point B, let alone A to Z. Running a business, flying by the seat of your pants, just isn’t going to get you where you want to be. Remember: a large majority of businesses fail within their first year of operation. A huge part of the reason why is a failure to plan.
It’s not enough to create high level strategic business goals. You need a detailed plan that will take your business through the “how” of achieving those goals. The plan, along with its metrics and tools, should be detailed. Your plan should be so clearly defined that everyone on your team understands the business goals and how their roles contribute to them.
2. There’s no ‘follow through’
Creating a plan is a waste of time, money and paper if you don’t follow through on it. An implementation strategy is part of the solution. At the same time, communicating business goals alongside the strategy is key.
Some entrepreneurs are great planners and terrible communicators. If that’s you, here’s a tip: your staff can’t read your mind. You have to communicate your intentions and your expectations. In fact, a communication plan needs to be a part of the tactical plan. This will ensure that goals and deliverables are clear for everyone involved.
3. Lack of accountability
There is a solid accountability method for business goals: return on investment (ROI). If you track clear and measurable metrics, you can better evaluate efforts.
With a carefully constructed plan, both at a strategic and tactical level, you can make sure you and your team are accountable every step of the way. Lofty goals without any way to evaluate their success or failure aren’t practical for a business.
4. Distracted by shiny objects
Make sure every investment (i.e. time, money, etc.) is intended to achieve your strategic goals. Get laser focused on what is going to actually move your business forward.
For example, far too many small business owners spend a lot of time and money on expensive planning systems. These systems have to constantly be maintained and evaluated. However, business processes can be easily mapped out and communicated to your team without spending a fortune.
Meanwhile, should you really be spending four hours a day on social media to “build your business?” Maybe. But probably not. We are all guilty of falling down the rabbit hole in search of shiny objects. That often comes from having too many things going on at once, which results in a loss of focus and momentum.
5. Waning momentum
A business that loses steam has not been well thought out. In fact, it’s likely missing strategic and tactical business goals. Without a well-defined plan, you will become overwhelmed. The result is a loss of momentum.
You get bogged down in details and find yourself constantly putting out fires, when you should be staying the course (e.g., evaluating and modifying your plans to reach your business goals).
Remember, a plan is not cast in stone. It’s meant to guide your efforts. It has to be flexible to accommodate unexpected changes.
If you’re just getting started, or even if you’ve been in business for a while, take some time to review your plan, along with your strategic and tactical goals. It’s time well spent.
You might need a course correction, or you could be right on track. Whichever way things shake out for you, developing a plan to meet business goals is the key to your success.
This article has been edited.
Amanda DeGrace, founder of DeGrace Energetics, has been living the dream as an entrepreneur for over 12 years now. Amanda has extensive knowledge working with both entrepreneurs, small businesses and large corporations. She has consulted multi-million dollar companies and managed teams as large as 60+ people and as small as 1-3 person teams. She helps create plans, strategies and actionable items to bring forth more clarity and increase team productivity to create success. Connect with @AmandaDeGrace on Twitter.