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As a small business owner, your livelihood largely depends on your ability to meet your goals. But actually setting the right goals can be a tricky task.
Here are three common goal-setting mistakes identified by small business owners, and how you can remedy them.
Joan McCoy, president of Little One Books, an online children’s books and media store, says setting unrealistic goals is one of the biggest mistakes she made when she launched her Seattle company last April. She wanted to sell $1 million worth of products within a year. But two months in, she realized that goal was unreachable. “Our goals were way too ambitious for a short period of time,” McCoy says.
Though McCoy says her company still has managed to do about $100,000 in business, she says she’s learned to research the achievability of goals before she sets them. She’s educated herself on how long it takes to complete an online sale, for example, and her new goals reflect that, she says.
Setting too many goals in multiple areas of your business is another common trap, says Julie Thompson, principal of aBookintheHand.com, a San Francisco company that helps clients create non-fiction books. As the former owner of a marketing business, Thompson says her goal-setting efforts were too scattered. She set goals in too many different areas—revenue, prospecting, industry-event attendance and social media.
“You try and do everything at once, and you end up doing nothing well at all,” Thompson says. Now, she focuses on setting goals in only one or two categories a month, and evaluates her progress monthly.
Ray Silverstein, a small business consultant and president of President’s Resource Organization in Chicago, says one of the most common errors business owners make is failing to create a plan to accomplish their goals. He says that a helpful way to go about this is to ask yourself if your goals are S.M.A.R.T—specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely.
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