7 Mistakes that mean your business goals will fail

With the start of a New Year comes lots of advice on setting goals for your business. Everyone talks about the importance of goal setting and they pull out the statistics that tell you that people who set goals are a billion times more successful than those who don’t (I may be exaggerating here slightly…..).

It’s like New Year resolutions for your business.

And guess what? For most of us business goal setting turns out to be just as successful as most other New Year resolutions. By February we are back eating bad things/smoking/not going to the gym, while in our business the day to day stuff has taken over and all the good things we said we’d do are still hanging about on the to-do list, laughing at us every time we try to find a spare hour to get on with them.

For years I would diligently set some nice big stretching goals for my business – and 9 times out of 10 I would fail to meet them. Sometimes I got close, often I didn’t.

So each year I would look over my failures of the year before, berate myself, resolve to try even harder next year – and make exactly the same goal setting mistakes as the year before. It’s very demotivating.

Last year, I stopped. I didn’t start with ANY business goals – instead I set a single personal goal: Visit Australia. And I did it!


But to get there I did have to create some goals for my business – not least to earn enough money to pay for the trip.

This year, I will be setting some goals for my business. But I’ve learned my lesson and I’ll be making sure they are goals that really mean something.

We know it's important to set goals for our businesses - but why do we so often fail to achieve them. Here are 7 reasons (and what to do about them)

So here are the mistakes I (and so many others) made – and how to avoid them:

You don’t know where you want to go

Do you ever ask yourself why you run your own business? And what you want from it?

Many of us became business owners because we were running away from something – a dull corporate job, office politics, redundancy, child care issues. Having your own business brings a whole new set of challenges, but it does also give you a huge opportunity – you can shape the type of business you have.

Try thinking 5, 10 years ahead and how you expect your life to be. Where does your current business fit in? Do you want to carry on until you retire? Will you want to sell your business in the future? How much do you want to earn? How many hours do you want to work?

Your goals are unrealistic

One of the most common mistakes in goal setting is to simply pluck a figure or an idea from nowhere and write it into your goal planner. Before you commit to your goals understand what needs to happen to achieve them.

If they involve working 23 hour days, it’s not going to happen.

Your business and personal goals are not aligned

If you decide that this year you will increase your wedding bookings by 50%, start a blog and write a book, then you may not have so much quality time with your family.

Work out what’s really important to you, personally and then fit the business around it. Too many small business owners let the business run them, instead of the other way round.

You don’t REALLY, REALLY want it

Unless you are really motivated to reach your goals, you won’t achieve them. Do you really want to write that book/work longer hours – or is it what everyone says you should do?

Money in itself is often not a great motivator – it’s the means to something else. What is that “something else” for you?

Your goals are not SMART

Make sure your goals are clearly defined.


“Book more weddings” is not a SMART goal. “Photograph 20 weddings in 2015 with an average revenue of £1,250 per wedding” is.

They rely on other people

Make your goals things that YOU can act on and influence.

You don’t have a plan for getting there

And finally, goals are worthless without an action plan.

To make real progress in your business (and life) you need to be taking action every day towards those goals. They can be baby steps – but make sure you take them.


This year, I’m using Leonie Dawson’s “Create your Shining Year” workbook. It’s great for helping you work out what’s really important to you and getting your life and business in shape. Plus it’s colourful and creative and makes planning fun – I’ll tell you next year if it’s worked!