Meadow CreekNews

How High Have You Set Your Goals?

Filed under Raising Capital, Small Business, Venture Capital and Start Ups on May 11, 2011

Entrepreneurs and small business owners often miss huge opportunities to make serious returns on their investment of time and money. All too often they have not set their goals and expectations high enough. If you don’t expect to get there, you’re probably not going to. Shoot for the stars and you might make it to the moon.
There are three levels of entrepreneurship that I identify with goal setting:
Timid – Replace my prior income as an employee by being self-employed
Confident – Build a small business and make a lot of money
Convinced – Launch a startup and go public
The Timid
The dangerous waters of entrepreneurship are no place for the Timid. If the prospect of searching for a new job is frightening, starting your own business is terrifying. If the jobs aren’t out there, like today, then it is a reasonable alternative. You’re going to need a lot of hand holding, mentoring and advice if this is the case. Commit yourself to using a coach or consultant and join some social networks that are focused on entrepreneurship, misery loves company.
The Confident
The Confident are the prime targets for kicking it up a notch. This group ranges from the professionals that not only want to replace their old incomes, but hire a staff and make a lot more to those committed to building a business that they feel comfortable managing. The Confident need to up their scale in setting goals. Why not grow a business you are not comfortable managing. Management is a talent that can be bought and should not be a barrier to growth. There is no rule that says you need to manage the company you own.
The Convinced
The Convinced have already set their sights high and are not the subject of this article. Setting your goals does not assure success, but it helps.
How high people set their goals can be a function of many things:
Circumstances of you decision to start your own business
Education, business acumen, life experiences
If you’ve just been laid-off from a company that you’ve worked at for 30 years, you’re probably devastated. You did not plan for this and you realize your prospects for finding a new job are slim. If there is one form of discrimination that is alive and well in this country, it is age discrimination. Why is an employer going to pick you with your 30 years of baggage and ingrained ways of doing things and try to retrain you so you can retire in five years? You’ve made a strategic decision to start your own business and you’re scared.
Maybe you know a trade or have some other skill that you know there is a demand for, but don’t know a darn thing about business. You have no education in business and your work experience was based on doing the work, not managing how it got done.
Life experience also can shape your expectations. If you were raised in modest circumstances, you may not see yourself rising above that even if what you have to offer has great value in the marketplace.
Most importantly, your personality will guide your goal setting. Are you a “the cup is half empty” or “the cup is half full” person. Are you confident around other people or do you shy away in a corner in crowds. If you lack confidence or tend to look at things in a negative light, you will certainly not give yourself stretch goals.
The good news is that all of these issues facing the Timid and the Confident alike can be solved. I will refer to one of my favorite descriptions of a successful entrepreneur.
Successful entrepreneurs are particularly skilled in surrounding themselves with people that are vital to the success of their business.
Coaches and consultants can keep you focused on the business opportunity and not the circumstances of why you are where you are today. They can guide you through the visioning process, strategic planning, business planning, action planning, goal setting etc. They can force you to look at the positive side of a business model and build your confidence and raise your expectations.
If your funding is limited, working one-on-one with a consultant may not be realistic, but there are other ways. Some consultants have group sessions where entrepreneurs and small business owners can get together and discuss their business issues in regular sessions moderated by the consultant. Interactive and working seminars that result in an important deliverable like a business plan are also cost effective ways of getting the input, education and confidence building you need.
Networking events are also a great way to meet people that share similar interests and/or have valuable contributions to make to your own entrepreneurial efforts. People that look at networking events as sales opportunities are misguided. Everyone there is looking to make a sale. Be smart and use the networking opportunity to discuss business experiences and needs other than the next sale. You will be surprised at what might result.
At Meadow Creek Business Center, we try to offer our management consulting, marketing and general business support services in a variety of formats to meet the needs of small and medium sized businesses. Please attend our events and discuss how we might help you raise your sights and meet your goals.
Richard Gabel

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