Business owners. We are romantics, but not in Nicholas Sparks, get in a rowboat and kiss in the rain kind of romantic. Nope. We are the dreamers. We romanticize our business ideas, growth, and goals. After all, that's the fun part of our neurotic lives, right? Ok, I'm not immune to this myself. Despite the fact that I'm usually the realist in the room, it's nice to be swept away from time to time in the romance of my businesses. But here's the thing: We need to stop romanticizing our businesses because that's what's actually holding us back!

As a business consultant, I often hear, "I should have this," or "My numbers should be this," and my answer is, "According to who?” and “Why do you think this?"

The truth is, many of these declarative statements that we all make are based on the romantic ideas of our business and not about actual business goals, and oftentimes, they are not grounded in the reality of our data or our day-to-day numbers. It all comes down to goals, and hey, maybe you don't even have any! I'm such a buzzkill, I know.

Consider these facts about goal setting:

Why your business goals (or lack thereof) are holding you back.

Let's kick this into high gear! Small business owners are great at coming up with ideas, but they’re not always so great at the business of those ideas, implementation, or setting goals. If you're feeling like, “Gosh, I'm just not where I want to be,” it starts with goals, and not just any goals.

You have too many goals

Oftentimes, small business owners approach me with a bunch of ideas, enormous product catalogs, or multiple websites for one brand. They feel overwhelmed with what should go where and how to track their success. If you feel like this, imagine how your consumer feels! #Irestmycase

It all boils down to the same issue: a lack of focus and organization in the business model or strategy itself. The old saying, "Keep it simple, stupid" applies here. Look at your business from the outside in and ask yourself what product offering makes you the most $$ and what gives you the most joy. Start with those one or two things, and build business goals and organization around them. It’s the start to understanding how and why your business goals are holding you back and how you can tailor them down.

You dream without doing

For every Steve Jobs, there's a Tim Cook. Ideally, you are both a dreamer and a doer, but the reality is that many business owners are "Why," and they lack the "How." The implementation of the processes and product is what keeps us grounded. When you fail to execute on an idea or you fail to narrow down your ideas, you end up with the same problem: lack of progress.

When you lack progress, that list of goals and products grows and grows with no execution. That daunting feeling you have about your business comes from the fact that your business goals—in partnership with lack of execution—are holding you back. In this case, narrow in, and start to execute or hire someone who can and set realistic goals around execution.

You are distracted by shiny objects

Distraction is the enemy of progression. Shiny objects are a dime a dozen, and dang it, they're freaking nice to look at. As business owners, there's likely no shortage of ideas. Unless you're in the business of ideas, make sure you are clear about what your goals are (see tip 1) and ask yourself, “Does this shiny object help me narrow in and focus on what I want to accomplish?” If the answer is no, save it for another day. Not today, shiny object, not today! Keep the shiny objects at bay so your business goals don’t hold you back! Do you sense a pattern here?

You're busy, but not productive

Repeat after me: "Idleness aversion." This phrase comes from a research study that found people associate being busy with success, despite the fact that they may not be producing a-ny-thing. Blame it on the neurosis we all have. (Yes, admit it! Business owners are a special breed). The truth is that not being busy is kind of scary, and when you think about goals and dreams, the hustle, the grind, and being busy exist on a pedestal. It’s this kind of thinking that stops us from accomplishing our business goals.

Without goals, you have no linear pathway forward. With too many goals, you also have no linear pathway forward.

If you’ve ever felt drained by the end of the day but also feel like you've accomplished NOTHING, you're probably more busy than you are productive. At the same time, you probably have too few or too many goals. It’s this kind of mindset that leaves people feeling like, "I should have this," or "My numbers should be this.” From the outside in, it’s clear to me, and hopefully, now clear to you, that your goals and ideas, themselves, are holding you back and keeping you in this mindset of feeling like you’re not where you want to be.

Don't get me wrong: Ideas and goals are great. You can have big picture ideas of what you hope the future looks like, and maybe that is to have many businesses. But if you start too big, you're doomed from the start. In other words, the saying should really be, "Go big and never accomplish your goal." Forget about going home, you're not even taking baby steps or putting one foot in front of the other.

To the romantics: remove the romantic ideas of what your business should look like, hone in on one thing you can accomplish, and create a goal that is measurable so that you can stop looking in the rearview mirror and keep driving towards success. Big things start with small, manageable goals. It’s the least romantic phrase there is, so we’ll leave that plot lineup to Nicholas Sparks.

Need help setting business goals that won't hold you back? Shoot me an email or fill out the form below. I'll be in touch!

Gabrielle Nickas