It’s the most wonderful time of the year…
No, I’m not talking about the holidays but rather the time of year when entrepreneurs’ inboxes are flooded with invitations to classes to plan for success in the next year.
“You don't need a plan for the next year - you need a commitment” - Seth Godin
Yes, planning is good. But, before you jump into the latest planning class, let me ask you a quick question…
Are your goals the *exact* same as they were last year, or even 5 years ago because you aren’t making progress toward them?
If that’s the case, you are not alone. According to US News and World Report, 80% of New Year’s Resolutions Fail before February. The majority of people go through the exercise of planning because it feels productive and helpful. Yet it is ineffective.
Planning can be the key to your business growth both short term and long term, but if you don’t avoid the major planning pitfalls I’m going to share with you, you are engaging in wishful thinking, not goal setting.
Business Goals … Why Most “Business Resolutions” Don’t Work
Are you ready to set some goals and have them stick this time? Here are some of the top reasons New Year’s Plans don’t work.
1. Your planning timeline is too long
A lot of the planning workshops or seminars I've been on look at planning out a full year. Or longer-term planning of the next 10 years.
When is the last time you actually followed through with a year-long plan, much less a 10 year plan?
In my experience working with smaller, high-growth companies the timeline of 10 years or even a full year has too many variables to accurately predict. Who here had an annual plan at the start of 2020 only to see it needs a massive rewrite a couple of months into this unprecedented year?
If I'm looking to set a goal and map out the activities required to achieve that goal, I find that scheduling my plan for the next 3-6 months is really the sweet spot.
Things change quickly. As a company we find ourselves modifying and changing plans and switching directions throughout the year, as we encounter things that we couldn't have anticipated just months earlier.
2. You’re borrowing someone else’s business goal
This time of year there is a lot of pressure for businesses to “plan the perfect year”. You may be feeling even more of the “planning pressure” this year because 2020 went so off the rails for so many people.
You feel like you “should” be planning, but you aren’t really motivated. You are going through the motions because you feel like you are supposed to. Or, because you are new, or lacking in motivation, you borrow someone else’s goals without really thinking through what is right for your business.
I've been guilty of this before too. It's common for smaller businesses to set goals based on what they see others achieving.
If you are strictly referring to revenue or new client goals, my advice is to be flexible if you are early on in your business. Don't set a goal that you heard a competitor hit and beat yourself up for not achieving it. Set a conservative goal and track progress along the way.
The more often you are setting goals and analyzing your progress the more accurate you'll be able to make your goal.
This isn't only applicable to businesses that are just getting started. My first couple of years running a Marketing Agency we were lucky to be able to triple each year for 3 years straight.
It's something I'm still incredibly proud of and led to us being named the 252nd fastest growing private company on Inc's annual Inc 5000 issue.
But 27x growth in 3 years leads to new challenges, new opportunities, and new goals. The pace we started growing at wasn't something we would be likely to hit every year we existed. So as new challenges came up, we adjusted our goals to match the current state of affairs in our business.
3. Your business goals aren’t based on your business reality
Related to “borrowing” goals for your competitors is setting goals that are beyond a “stretch” for your business. Or more accurately, they are actually 5 or 10 year goals rather than something that can be accomplished in a year.
Every few years, I run a planning VIP day for my clients. I ran one this week, you can catch the replay here.
As participants declare their goals, many of them are “wishes” rather than goals. For example, it is almost impossible for a coach starting from zero to get to over 100 one-on-one private clients in a year.
The coaches’ time would be taken up with servicing the clients. They would not be able to do the sales, marketing and customer service functions necessary to support their business without massively scaling up and adding new team members (and expenses) to their business.
Similarly, people often want to increase the number of sales calls they have each week. This is hard to do if you already are busy with existing clients. To reach the goal, you would need to add resources to help do the initial outreach, schedule the calls, send reminders etc. (We created Connect 365 to help automate some of this process for you).
Or, you want 1000 people attending your webinars, but only have 50 on your list so far. You don’t have money or expertise for paid ads. You can certainly create partnerships and grow your list, but it takes time. Our LEAD Blueprint Workshop training shows you how to start building your list from scratch.
The above goals aren’t bad goals per se, they are just likely to fail due to lack of resources.
One of the things that I teach in my annual Marketing & Sales Planning VIP Day is to start with your numbers to see what resources are required to reach your goals. From there, you can put a series of shorter-term plans in plans in place that will get you to your goals.
4. Your business goals aren’t ambitious enough
It may be cliche but “aim for the moon and you'll land amongst the stars” is applicable here. Especially if you are leading a team. You need to set big, ambitious goals and believe in them.
If you don't believe in them, your team certainly won't.
Just always remember to ground your goals in reality. It may be ambitious, but if you have a plan to get there, there's nothing that is impossible over time. People vastly overestimate what they can do in a year and underestimate what is possible in five years. You just need to have plans for both timelines.
When I first started my sales development agency, LinkedSelling, we knew we could do the work for clients. We could show them a better way to book appointments and sales opportunities. And if we were doing all the work we knew we could do it efficiently.
But...as the agency grew more clients were looking to us for help that might not be at the level to fully outsource our team.
I remember the first conversation I had with my team about wanting to create a system that at a low-cost could take the burden of the daily follow-up and daily social media work that we had seen be so successful for the clients that outsourced their work to us.
Something that got results, was easy to use, saved our clients a lot of time and was priced where every business owner had an opportunity to utilize it.
I had some sideways looks that day I still remember.
But I knew we were capable of making it a reality and set a goal with the team to plan out the execution and to bring on users within that year. And, today, thousands of users are benefiting from our system, Connect 365.
5. You don’t track your progress
Even if you are diving somewhere you’ve been a thousand times, you need to keep your eyes on the road in order to reach your destination. As you drive, you are constantly looking for and reactivating to obstacles along the way.
Reaching your business goals is a lot like driving, if you are not tracking your progress and adjusting your course, you will likely never achieve your goal.
Of course, there are lots of numbers that can be tracked these days but try and limit your tracking to the most important or telling numbers to help you on the way to your goal.
One of the most beneficial exercises I do in my annual Marketing & Sales Planning VIP Day is help clients to work backwards… (watch the replay of every session here)
For instance, you decide that you want to add 10 additional clients a year to your business.
And let's say you know that on average you close about 30% of the people you speak with.
You know that you need to speak with between 30-35 prospects this year.
The number for you to track would be how many prospects you are speaking to each week and each month. Then, ask yourself - what can I do to increase that number?
Of course, you can end up driving yourself crazy and wasting a ton of time tracking metrics that don’t matter. For example, if your goal is to increase sales, tracking your Tik Tok views is not the best use of your time. However, using the numbers that lead directly to progress on your goals indicates whether you are on track for your goal or if you need some help.
You can drive yourself silly getting so far into the numbers. But put a priority on the numbers that fit with your business and the way you sell.
Those are the things to watch most closely to indicate whether you are on track for your goal or need some help.
6. You don’t know how to achieve your business goals
I remember when I hit “send” on the first email for “Linked U” my initial course on getting leads through LinkedIn. I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. “I don’t really know what I’m doing here - what if this doesn’t work out as we planned?”
Having a goal and not quite knowing how to get there is not only very common, I would say it is almost a prerequisite for entrepreneurial success.
But, there is a difference between not knowing the exact steps to reach your goal and stumbling around in the dark trying to figure things out.
Fortunately, many people have found success in business and it is easy to use their journey to facilitate your success. Our system, the Lead Generator, is based first on what worked for me. Through the years, we’ve tweaked the system based on what has worked for our clients. Spending your time and money implementing a proven system is always a good investment.
7. You don’t really want to make a change
At the end of the day, the real reason people don’t succeed is because reaching your goals is hard work and it requires change.
If things are going well for you, or well enough, it might be easier to keep doing what you’ve been doing than get out of your comfort zone and risk failing.
If you are honest with yourself and fall into this category, you need to ask yourself how important it is to your business (really) that you achieve the goal?
If it is important but you just aren’t feeling motivated enough, my advice to you is to create a plan that you believe will get you there. Then, find someone to keep you accountable for following through. Once you start down the road and see the first signs of progress your motivation will increase.
Need help with your plan? Check out the replay of my most recent planning VIP Day (it’s free).
Sign up for my Marketing and Sales VIP Planning Day
Build Your Bullet-Proof Plan To Hit Your Goals, Grow Your Business, And Increase Your Revenue In 2021.
I recently held a Marketing and Sales VIP Planning day that works through a lot of what I covered in this post. If you are interested in learning more, I had my team leave the replay up for you to watch.
At the end of the day you’ll have:
- A Detailed 6-Month Marketing And Sales Planning Schedule To Put You On Course To Achieve Your Goals
- Well-Defined Benchmarks That Your Marketing And Sales Efforts Should Hit Each Week To Keep You On Track And Accountable To Your Goals
- An Implementation Roadmap Of The Exact Strategies And Tactics To Begin Executing On Your 6-Month Plan
- A Guidebook To Keep Your Pipeline Full Of New Qualified Prospects And Opportunities Based On The Most Successful Client Campaigns We Manage
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