Frustrated by continually missing your business goals? Setting goals is an important part of an effective business plan yet, if your business consistently fails to reach those goals, it’s time to take a closer look at what’s going on.

Here are five reasons this may be happening and how to start hitting your targets:

1. The End Goal Isn’t Clearly Defined.

It’s difficult to meet goals that are too broad or confusing. For example, consider one common goal businesses make with regard to hiring new employees.

“Many small business owners say they want to surround themselves with talented, capable staff, but so many of them miss the mark over and over again,” says Jennifer Martin, small business consultant and owner of Zest Business Consulting. Martin says this is because they don’t articulate exactly what they want in an employee.

Jennifer Martin, owner Zest Business Consulting

Jennifer Martin, owner of Zest Business Consulting

To clarify things, use the SMART method to create specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely business goals. While talent and capability aren’t measurable in and of themselves, for example, assessing them for the right knowledge, or evaluating how they approach a task may reveal the measurable information you need to determine which candidates fit your definition of talented and capable.

2. Your Timeline Doesn’t Match Your Goal.

Sometimes a goal may be specific, but not attainable, because the timeline is too short. Martin says this is often because business owners misestimate their own time and capabilities.

“They’re often ambitious people who take on too much and then can’t follow through on all their commitments,” she says. “I frequently hear small business owners tell me that there is too much to do and not enough time to do it in.”

Setting realistic completion dates starts with understanding how much time will be required to meet the goal and how much time each staff member has available to work on it. Take a careful look at the goal’s subtasks, and delegate as much as possible to your team members.

“Remember that done is better than perfect,” says Martin.

3. Your Business Goals are Too Ambitious.

Though goals help focus activity towards an achievement, when they’re too ambitious they can lead to frustration. One area where business owners may set goals that are too high is in revenue. After all, everyone wants to make more money.

“It’s rare that I meet a small business owner who is satisfied with the amount of money they are making,” says Martin. “Even when they’re profitable, many still want more, or at least the same, but with less effort.”

Martin says one way to fix the problem of missed revenue goals is by focusing not only on how much you earn, but on how much you keep.

“Look for places where you can cut expenses, then work on what you can do to generate more income,” she says. This may mean revising your current goal, as well as introducing benchmarks.

4. Critical Benchmarks aren’t Identified.

Very few — if any — goals are reached without attaining several key targets along the way. Identifying these benchmarks as part of the goal-setting process helps make your goal measurable, and provides proof of accomplishment when progress may seem slow.

Create a chart showing where you are at any given moment with regard to your goal, suggests Martin, and make sure to celebrate these small wins with your team.

5. Your Team Isn’t On Board With Your Goals.

Businesses can fall short of their goals when the team doesn’t participate in achieving them. Sometimes teams can’t be effective at meeting goals because business owners won’t share responsibility or control.

“Stop carrying the weight of the world on your own,” says Martin. She suggests making financial goals a company affair where every staff member can participate. “Hold regular meetings, and give an incentive to every person on the team to help you reach your goals.”

By establishing SMART goals with this worksheet, and by leaning on your committed team, your business will be better positioned to meet your yearly goals. “Get the entire team on board with helping you achieve your goals, and never lose sight of the end game,” says Martin.

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