How to Achieve Your Goals in Your Small Business

Every week as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. The show takes place every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9pm ET.  This is excerpted from my recent interview with Adrean Turner @coachadrean. Adrean is a Coach, Speaker and Corporate Trainer who provides workforce solutions and career management strategies for individuals and organizations. She is also the author of the book, Fearless. Inspired. Transformed: FIT for Success. For more information visit: www.coachadrean.com

SmallBizLady: Why is it important to set goals?

Adrean Turner: It’s important to set goals so that you have an outline or pathway for achieving the success you desire. By setting goals, you are able to set specific expectations of what should be done and get rid of the guess work. Setting goals can also improve time management skills, reduce stress, enhance performance and increase your motivation to achieving your tasks

SmallBizLady: What are some barriers that prevent small businesses from reaching their goals?

Adrean Turner: There are several reasons why small businesses are challenged in reaching their goals. The following are the top reasons I’ve noticed in working with clients.

  1. Lack of Shared Mission and Vision: According to one employee engagement study, only 42% of employees know their organization’s vision, mission, and values. However, Employees who say the company’s values are “known and understood” are 30x more likely to be fully engaged. Are you communicating and reinforcing your company’s guiding principles and mission? The more transparent you are with sharing information with your team the greater your results and overall productivity.
  2. Fear of Failure: Ask any successful person from Mark Cuban to Oprah Winfrey and they will tell you that they have failed their way to success. In fact, failure is a part of success. You will learn and grow through the challenges you overcome. If you’re not making mistakes you’re not trying. Taking measured risks are important to move forward and excel.
  3. Lack of Planning: Planning without action is futile and action without planning is fatal. Creating a roadmap for achievement is critical for growth and goal attainment. It’s not just hard work that matters, but rather hard, smart work that is important. Using a simple tool called S.M.A.R.T. goals will help you to go beyond the realm of fuzzy goal-setting into an actionable plan for results Create a plan with goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based.

For example: Our goal is to gain 5 new clients by May 15th. This will be achieved through newsletter promotion to segmented audiences and social media posts that highlight quotes about of our services. We will follow up with 6 of our previous clients each week for the next 3 weeks to ask for referrals and offer them an incentive. To do this I will enlist the support of my media planner.

SmallBizLady: What are some strategies or methods for setting goals?

Adrean Turner: To set goals for success I recommend a 5-part strategy:

  1. Set Goals that Motivate You: They should relate to your highest priorities, enable focus and create a “I must do this” attitude and approach. Ask yourself: “If I were to share my goal with others, what would I tell them to convince them it was a worthwhile goal?” It’s important to have a strong, “why” to stay engaged on the task.
  2. Set Goals in Writing: It is reported that people who set goals are 42% more likely to achieve them than those who don’t. The process of putting your goals on paper will force you to strategize, to ask questions about your current progress, and to brainstorm your plan of attack.
  3. Set SMART Goals: as mentioned previously
  4. Make an Action Plan: A goal without a plan is just a wish. Creating a plan for execution is key for your success.
  5. Stick With It! Review your plan and make changes as necessary. This may mean that you’ll need to adjust your goal but don’t abandon it. Stay committed.

SmallBizLady: With so many competing responsibilities, what are the best methods to prioritize goals?

Adrean Turner: Take the time to identify the importance of the goal as it relates to your overall objectives. Perhaps you’ll prioritize your goals based on the impact to your bottom line, or a client need or a productivity enhancement.

Keeping in mind the pareto principle is also helpful when deciding how to prioritize goals and tasks. The pareto principle mentions that 80% of outcomes are generated by 20% of activities. Therefore, once you have determined your prioritization criteria, you’ll now need to identify the most important tasks (MITs) associated with completing the goals. And work on it each before anything else.

As an example, no matter how crazy your days get, make sure you carve out and ruthlessly protect just 90 minutes—20% of an eight-hour day—for the most important tasks. Even if you squander the remaining 80% of the day, you can still make great progress if you have spent 90 minutes on your goals or priorities.

SmallBizLady: You mentioned earlier that it is important to share goals with your team. Can you elaborate on that?

Adrean Turner: Yes. I worked for a Fortune 500 company for more than 20 years. One of the reason I am certain the organization was successful is due to the fact that it was mandated that we set yearly goals to achieve the overall goals of the organization. By creating a system or process of goal sharing, you empower your team for better results. Here are some ideas to get started.

  1. Ensure that team members understand the most important goals of the organization and why they are important?
  2. Enable your team to ask questions and provide feedback
  3. Provide your staff with a goal template or action plan to outline their responsibilities for each goal
  4. Regularly review milestones and achievements
  5. Celebrate along the way! Don’t wait until the entire goal is achieved. Find way to stay motivated throughout the process. Rewarding and recognizing your team goes a long way towards their engagement.

SmallBizLady: Staying focused on a large goal is a big challenge for some small businesses. What suggestions can you provide?

Adrean Turner: Create an opportunity for small wins. As the saying goes, “you eat an elephant one bite at a time”.  Considering the challenges of a large goal can be overwhelming. To stay focused, create mini goals:

  1. Break up large goals into a series of steps
  2. Each step should be specific.
  3. Each step should include manageable tasks.

You’ll feel energized each time you accomplish one of these mini goals. Small wins help to ensure that you aren’t spreading resources too thinly, it feels less overwhelming and makes reaching the ultimate goal much easier. In fact, the more frequently people experience the sense of progress, the more likely they are to be creatively productive in the long run.

According to per the “Progress Principle” developed by researchers at Harvard Business School, credits, making progress in meaningful work as the single most important factor to boost emotions, motivations and perceptions.

Celebrate small wins to stay focused on what’s most important for your success.

SmallBizLady: The most common argument I hear about setting goals is “I don’t have enough time.” What suggestions do you have to assist those feeling overwhelmed in reaching their goals?

Adrean Turner: Your success is determined by how you spend your time. Consider using the “Urgency and Importance” matrix to evaluate time-consuming tasks that may be impeding success to reach your goals. This activity involves dividing your goals and tasks into 4 quadrants:

  • Quad1: Urgent/Important
  • Quad 2: Not Urgent/Important
  • Quad 3: Urgent/Not Important
  • Quad4: Not Urgent/ Not Important

In addition, reflect on how you manage your time. For instance, what are the three activities you spend the most time on that has the lowest payoff? What is the end result of spending time on low-payoff vs. high payoff activities?

By completing these exercises, you will be able to visualize how you are spending your time and determine what adjustments are necessary to better manage the assignments associated with your goals.

SmallBizLady: What other barriers do small businesses express as a challenge that you’ve heard?

Adrean Turner: Another common distress that I hear from business owners is that they are working IN the business and not enough ON the business, so they are limited in achieving more cost-productive goals. Whether you are a solopreneur or have a team of 50 people it’s best to recognize when and where you need support to move the business forward.

Here are 2 options to manage this barrier:

  • Option 1: Determine how much time you are spending in the business and how much that is costing you. For example, if your time is worth $100/hr and you are spending 3 hours a day on tasks that could be completed by an assistant at $20/hour, you might want to consider hiring a support person.
  • Option 2: DELEGATE! Leaders who don’t delegate
    • ….are always behind in paperwork
    • … have to come in early, stay late, take work home
    • … see their to-do list grow week by week
    • … don’t think employees are willing or able to do more
    • … need to control every aspect of every task

Outline areas of your work and the work of your most productive team members that can be delegated to other staff members. This ensures that everyone has a greater capacity to focus in areas most needed for overall success.

SmallBizLady: In your book, F.I.T. for Success, All Things Are Possible, you mention the “Three Cees for Success” to reach your goals. Of the three “Cees” you outline which is most important?

Adrean Turner: Everyone knows there is no secret formula to success but there are things that successful people do to reach their goals.

  • The first C is CONSISTENCY. Aristotle said we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act, but a habit. Consistency is the key that unlocks the door to success. It’s the small efforts repeated day in and day out that will lead you to accomplishing your goals. Consistency is essential—not optional, nothing is achieved without it. Be consistent in your approach, your attitude, communications and actions.
  • The second C is COMMITMENT. Be passionate about the goals you are pursuing. The most important element in the failure equation is your personal commitment to keep going. In some cases, you must be a self-motivator and self-generator. It’s not how fast you go but whether or not you can stay in the race. Be committed to the process to see your goals through completion.
  • The third C stands for CONFIDENCE. The more confident you are in your skills and abilities the more likely you will be to reach your goals. If you have to hire more staff, attend a training program, network or rearrange assignments, whatever it is, do what’s necessary to gain confidence in achieving the results you desire. Don’t let fears or doubts keep you from moving forward.

I believe all three, consistency, commitment and confidence are necessary for goal attainment. Without one or the other your chances for success are minimized.

SmallBizLady: Earlier you mentioned the fear of failure as a barrier that prevents small businesses from reaching their goals. How does that factor into the success formula?

Adrean Turner: If you want to achieve greater success, know that there will be times of failure because it’s a part of the process. Here’s how you can fail successfully:

  • Fail Quickly: If an idea isn’t going to pan out, you might as well figure it sooner rather than later. It doesn’t make sense to invest time and money over 12 months only to realize that an idea won’t work if you could’ve reached the same conclusion in three weeks.
  • Fail Differently Each Time: Don’t repeat mistakes. Failing loses its value if you don’t learn from it. Each time you fail in a new way, you have the opportunity to improve your approach.
  • After a Failure: Write down how you can apply that information in the future and next logical steps to ensure you’re getting the most out of it. Keeping a failure journal records your discoveries and new ideas.
  • Maintain an Accurate Perspective: Failure is an undesired result. That’s it. It’s not a grading of your intelligence, worth, or future. There’s no reason to take it personally. It’s simply an idea that didn’t work out. Stay detached from your results and forge ahead.

It’s important to view each failure as a step in the right direction so that you can keep going.

SmallBizLady: I’ve found success partnering with others to achieve my goals. What advice do you have in that regard?

Adrean Turner: No one achieves success alone. Partnering with others and surrounding yourself with other successful goal achievers is key. I recommend that small business owners should know who’s in their network and how they can utilize those people. I refer to them as D, I, Cs.

  • The D’s are the DECISION MAKERS. These are contacts who can provide you with direct leads, direct work or bridge you to contacts who can. These might be other business owners, CEOs, hiring managers, procurement personnel, customers or agents who buy your services.
  • The I’s are INFORMATION SOURCES. These are contacts who can provide valuable insight into companies, industries, trends and people about whom you need to know. For example, some of my information sources are other coaches. They share insightful information and at times will pass along work that does not fit their schedule or interest. I view them as compliments to my business not as competitors.
  • The C’s are CHEERLEADERS. These contacts can provide references, testimonials and will vouch for you. They also give you support and encouragement. This might be a friend from your past, a business colleague or past client.

SmallBizLady: Procrastination can also be a deterrent for success. Do you have any advice for small businesses on getting over that hurdle?

Adrean Turner: Yes. In her book the, “The 5 Second Rule”, Mel Robbins outlines that there are 2 kinds of procrastination. One kind is productive procrastination which is important part of any creative process. If you are working on innovative idea or goal, research shows that productive procrastination is not only good but it is also important. Therefore, if you’re not getting the results that you want, leave it be. Focus your energy somewhere else, and then come back to the goal later with fresh eyes. That’s important if you are working on a project where you don’t have a fix deadline and you can let your work sit for a few weeks so that your mind can wander.

Destructive procrastination is an entirely different animal. Destructive procrastination occurs when tasks that need to be completed are avoided and there will be negative consequences if the work is not done.  To get past destructive procrastination take these steps, which is a compilation of all the information we’ve shared.

  1. Start with whatever is easy or manageable.
  2. Break into small parts.
  3. Write a goal and plan to accomplish it.
  4. Set a time or timer.
  5. Tell someone.
  6. Plan the first goal/task.
  7. Accept that there is no perfect job.
  8. Change your perception for more energy.

If you enjoyed this interview, please join us live on Twitter every Wednesday from 8-9 pm ET. Just follow the hashtag #Smallbizchat, and don’t forget to follow @SmallBizChat on Twitter.

Click here for directions to join the weekly conversation. 

Related Post