With all of the outstanding benefits that research has proven in regards to goal setting practices over the years, why is it that so many business owners still do not set goals for their companies? Since the turn of the 20th Century, stacks of data have been compiled demonstrating just how powerful the art of goal setting truly is.
Yet even so, I speak with business owners each week who state that they do not have written goals for their business. These same business owners also declare that they want to be successful financially, improve employee engagement, or expand the company’s footprint. But the question still remains: why do so many business owners still choose to run their companies without clarifying their most important goals with so many facts and statistics indicating such great payoffs?
The answer to this is not as simple as you may think, as there are certain characteristics, even psychological blocks, that lead people to under achievement, frustration and mediocrity. If you are the type of business owner that wants to move forward, then you’ll want to read further to see what roadblocks may be standing in your way.
6 Reasons Business Owners Do Not Set Goals
1. Fear of Criticism: For most people this fear is developed during early childhood and/or adolescence. Well-meaning parents or teachers may have discouraged you from setting goals by pointing out all of the reasons why it would not work. They of course felt as if they were protecting you from getting your hopes too high and then being disappointed if you didn’t succeed.
Also, perhaps in High School, many people get ridiculed by their peers for wanting to achieve something great. When that happens, you learn to shut-up and keep your dreams to yourself. You learn to play it safe, to go along with the crowd and not to rock the boat. The unfortunate reality of this fear is that you take it into adulthood where you continue to conform and sell yourself short time and time again, thus leading to low self-esteem, low self-confidence and lack of any real motivation. If you can learn to let go of what others think of you, you’ll find that setting and achieving your most important business goals will come to pass much faster and easier than you can possibly believe.
2. Fear of Accepting Responsibility: As Emerson once said “no one can cheat you out of ultimate success in life but you.” It is always easier to blame the economy, your employees, government regulations, competition, etc., etc., then to look at yourself in the mirror and see the real problem. I have found that most business owners can be lazy and find comfort in explaining away their failures or lack of effort. They reason that if it’s not their fault then they won’t look bad or maybe no one will blame them. Yet once an owner accepts 100% responsibility for the condition of their business, suddenly setting goals becomes a major priority.
3. Fear of Success: This is an odd fear, yet it is a very real one and tends to hold many people back in business. Most of these people were raised with the belief that making money and being “a success” is a bad thing, that they will somehow become like Scrooge in the old Charles Dickens’s Christmas fable. Seriously, I’ve heard business owners say how they can’t believe that Jeff Bezos is allowed to make that much money. (I’m not kidding)
These business owners who fear success will strive hard to fit-in and will even apologize to others for their accomplishments. In other words, they fear standing out or being different than their friends even if means sacrificing their success in business. It will do wonders to your business accomplishments to evaluate your beliefs about money, success, appearance, etc. and change your perception about what these things mean to you, so you can fear less and achieve more.
4. Fear of Failure: Everyone you know has this fear! Many of the top achievers you know have this fear in buckets! Which is usually why they have become successful in the first place. (A good use of fear.) However, many more people will allow this fear to control them to the point of preventing themselves from even setting a goal in the first place. Their mentality is “if I don’t try, I will never have to face failure and all of the pain and embarrassment that comes with it.”
You can see this mentality come to life if you have staff members who avoid making outbound calls! Instead, if you can live by the statement “nothing beats a failure but a try”, you’ll prevent this fear from ever manifesting in your business and you’ll see that fear of failure slip away as more and more of your goals are accomplished.
5. Never Learned How: I don’t know about you, but there was never a Goal Setting 101 class in High School or College, nor did my parents, coaches or instructors take me aside and teach me how to set goals. And I suspect the same is true for you. Setting, managing and achieving goals is a skill set that makes all of the difference in reaching new levels of business success. Back in the 1960’s a 20-year study began at Harvard University in regards to goals. The students were asked if they had any goals after they graduated, and it was discovered that only 3% of the class had clear written goals. Within 20 years, that same 3% had accumulated more wealth than the other 97% put together. If that story doesn’t get you to set goals, close your business now and get a day job.
6. Hanging Around the Wrong Crowd: Think that the people in your life don’t make an impact on you? Think again. I’ve dumped people out of my life because they were too negative or didn’t believe in me. I have one life and no time for nay-sayers. You’ll find that when you’re making a real effort to reach your goals in life, there will be people who will be like crabs in a pot of boiling water: when one is trying to escape, the others will pull them back in!
When you begin to tell friends what your goals and dreams are, you’ll find out quickly who you can go to for support and who you’ll want to avoid. The more time you spend with people who will support you in your efforts, who will push you forward in life and challenge you to do better, the more obvious it becomes that you’ve found true friends. To find the right crowd to hang around, simply ask yourself if the people you hang around are an anchor (hold you down) or a motor (push you forward) and then spend more time with the motors.