Updated: Feb 25
In these crazy times, how can small business owners achieve their goals?
2020’s done. Finished with. Over. But sadly there was no magic switch sending everything back to ‘normal’ then the clock hit midnight. It would be easy to think, in the current climate, what’s the point of setting goals for 2021 when we still have no idea what is around the corner.
I certainly had goals for 2020 and I can tell you with absolute certainty that the plan I set out this time last year did not work out exactly as I expected.
However, I can say that I ended up almost exactly where I wanted to, even though it looks completely different than I originally thought. In spite of the craziness, I actually achieved most of the goals I set out.
So how did I manage to do that in the middle of one of the most challenging times we’ve faced in recent memory? It’s all about setting the right goals and focussing on them no matter what gets in your way. It may be a cliché, but it’s about the destination, not the journey.
In reality, we have opportunity overload, even when it feels like our paths are quite narrow. You have access to so many possible directions to take your career it can feel impossible to set a goal, like a whirlwind spinning around you with all the possibilities but it’s incredibly hard to grab on to any of them.
That’s why we encourage you to pick a goal in the future and don’t worry too much about the route to get you there right now.
Imagine yourself one year from now having had the best year of your working life.
What did that year look like? Where are you at the end of it? Did you get promoted? More money? More free time? Did you start a business? Picture what that looks like and really imagine yourself in that position.
In our training we tell a story about a white water rafting trip we went on. We arrived in Wales and the rain was pouring, the weather was terrible and we were all expecting/hoping it to get cancelled and head to the nearest pub. We went to see the instructor and he told us not to worry because he had a ‘magic finger’ that can get us through any danger. Following some puzzled looks, he explained that when he started out, he would warn his students of any oncoming danger. “Look out for that log”, “Avoid that rapid”, “Don’t go that way”. Sure enough, every time he pointed to the danger, the boat headed in that direction. So now, he points to the destination, straight past the danger, ignoring the fallen trees and rapids and tells his crew to row with all thier might in that direction. Without fail, every time, they make it to the end.
I didn’t start 2020 thinking, watch out for a global pandemic that will cause all your clients to shut their doors and pull their campaigns. I started with a goal of running a successful business, working with clients and a team I liked, earning good money and making a difference to people’s working lives. I had no idea that in the process of that journey I would completely change direction, start a new business, take several new courses and work with loads of new people — but sure enough, at the end of 2020, I had achieved my goal. Because everything I did was in service of it. And you can do the same.
Take one of my key goals for 2021: Have more impact on the business I work with. When I set that goal it was all about generating better results for the clients of my agency. Increased traffic, more conversions, better social engagement. However, as the first Lockdown hit back in April and clients pulled their campaigns, it became quite clear that I was going to have to find another route to that goal. I took the time to look at what ‘Impact’ really meant to me and how I could create that impact on a larger scale. That led to starting a new business, whose focus is on supporting smaller businesses, via an online course, allowing us to support a great many more people than I could ever have impacted when working one client at a time. Not only that, the impact we make now genuinely improves the lives of the individuals we work with — not just the bottom line for the companies they work for.
So what’s the plan for 2021?
Well, I’m not ashamed to acknowledge that not every goal from 2020 was hit out of the park. One such goal was to increase the profit of my own business. Now, with some quick thinking and focus on the end goal, I was able to prevent profits falling, but in 2021 I am absolutely aiming for improved growth. So at the end of 2021, after a great year, we will have created massive impact for a huge number of businesses and individuals. We’ll be running a profitable business, having a well balanced work/life allowing me to continue to enjoy time with my family.
So picture yourself one year from now. It’s been an amazing year. What does it look like? Once you have that image in your head, write it down and make sure every single thing you do in 2021 pushes you closed to the desired future state.
In our next article Garry will be talking about how to set specific goals that you can use to navigate these uncertain times.