It’s one of those things that your grandmother used to say, ‘never set your sights too high, or you’ll feel disappointed if you don’t make it.’ And you know what, grandma was right. Expecting too much from your business too soon is a recipe for disaster, and regardless of what some gurus tell you about reaching for the stars, there’s nothing wrong with a slow and steady approach.
Often in business, we talk about managing expectations of customers. We under-promise and then hope to over-deliver, a practice that helps us create solid relationships with our customers. With such heavy emphasis placed on this aspect of business, it’s little wonder that we often forget about our own expectations and how they can affect our business and the way we approach our daily tasks. But before we get to that, let’s talk about risks.
Risks are good…
Recently we discussed risk-taking in business and how it’s one of the best ways to overcome your fears. We spoke of the fact that visualization is a key factor for many of the most successful entrepreneurs. They visualize a desired outcome, and this makes it easier for them to achieve their goals. However, we also talked about the fact that they understand that reaching that goal may require many small steps. In other words, they manage their expectations.
…But achievable goals are better
Now, the theory of setting achievable goals on the road to success is not by any means limited to the world of business. Football coaches, for example, will set easy-to-reach targets for young players taking up the sport in an attempt to foster feelings of accomplishment. Those feelings will then encourage the players to try harder and challenge themselves further. A process that inevitably leads to success for those that put the effort in. Poker players will also set themselves up for success by first understanding that they will lose more often than they will win. A trick of the mind that can work just as well for business as it does in the world of poker.
Poker expert and serial investor, Jan Heitmann, alludes to this when he states that “Not being results-oriented is also a helpful skill to learn in business, just as in poker, which can in turn help with understanding how to judge your decisions apart from the consequences that result from them.” This way of thinking promotes the method over the results and allows both poker players and business owners to focus on their skills, regardless of the outcome. Of course, there still needs to be a modicum of success for either to remain in play but with achievable goals, they’ll fail far less often.
However, don’t set your sights too low
When adopting this kind of approach to business, there is always the chance that you will set your sights too low. And as you can imagine this can be a very bad thing indeed. That visualization of success won’t work if your sights are set on barely breaking even.
This is why it’s important to create a step by step plan that outlines where you want your business to be within a certain time frame. It doesn’t matter if this time frame is one year or ten, but it is vital that each step in the plan has an achievable goal that challenges you and your employees, if you have any. These small challenges will also instill those feelings of accomplishment that we mentioned earlier and give you taste for success. Remember that small wins are still wins, and once you have a few of those under your belt you can move onto greater challenges.
So, whether you’re a solo entrepreneur or a small business owner with several employees, setting achievable goals should be high on your list of priorities. And learning to keep those expectations in check could be the difference between success and failure. So if you’re not doing it now, then it’s a good time to start.