Small Business Goals: The Only Thing You Need to Know to Set & Achieve Them


Small business goal achievement is a challenge. In fact, more than 80 percent of the 300 small business owners surveyed for the Staples National Small Business Survey say they don’t keep track of their business goals. Yikes! 

Based on that alarming stat, it’s easy to understand why 77 percent of business owners struggle to achieve their vision. What is this nefarious “thing” thwarting our efforts? 

Truth be told, it’s challenging to know what gets in the way of achieving our goals.

The Nightmare On Goal Street

You’ve learned how to set goals. You set a target or two in your lifetime. What kind of success did it create? Did you achieve your objective, or, like some, did you miss the mark?

If you stray from your target, it doesn’t endear you to set another destination. It often opens one up to crushing disappointment and an accompanying litany of failure. <Insert damaging self-talk here.>

Many small business owners are desperately afraid to set objectives. It’s much like Pavlov’s classical conditioning theory, where habits and subsequent behavior are learned by the repetitive association between the response and the stimulus. If you’ve set and missed your target enough times, it’s plausible you’ll want to avoid the painful “shock.”

Think about it. Continually missing your goals is painful! The stress that accompanies unachieved goals is staggering. That’s likely why four-fifths of goal-setters make it to Valentine’s Day. The other 20% make it to the end of the quarter. Sadly, that means only 8% successfully achieve their intention.

small business goals

The Road to Small Business Goal Achievement

Despite the statistics, goal setting is the most important business strategy for optimal performance. Investing in goals displays greater persistence, creativity, and risk-taking. It’s the ultimate anti-procrastination strategy.

A Dominican University study conducted with 277 participants revealed some encouraging results on how to set and achieve goals effectively. Here is what they discovered: 

Participants were randomly assigned to one of five groups. Following four weeks of pursuing their goal,  participants were asked to report on their goal achievement. They were also asked to rate the goal on the following criteria:

  • difficulty,
  • importance,
  • availability of skills and resources needed,
  • motivation and commitment,
  • whether or not they had pursued the goal before and, if so,
  • their prior success.

Those in Group 1 were to think about their goals for the next four weeks.

Participants in Group 2 were instructed to write their desired accomplishments and rate them as above.

Group 3 was asked to write their goal, rate them, and formulate actions to achieve their desired result.

Group 4 was instructed to write their intended achievement, rate it, formulate actions, and send their targets and actions to a supportive friend.

And, finally, participants in Group 5 wrote and rated their goals, formulated actions, and sent their plans to a supportive friend along with weekly progress reports.

The results? Seventy percent (70%) of the participants who sent weekly updates to a friend reported successful goal achievement! In fact, 76% of the participants in Group 5 achieved their targets or were more than halfway to achieving their goals, compared to 43% of Group 1. 

The Meaningful Takeaway

The results of this study demonstrate the effectiveness of coaching tools, including: 

Setting and implementing goals is still the best way to realize success. With this critical skill, we function as champions in our business.

Are you ready to step out to achieve those all-important goals? If so, consider sharing your goals and progress with a friend. Or, better yet, join us at The Messy Middle!, where CEO’s, Founders, and Small Business Owners collaborate to make their business work better.


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Brooke Billingsley

Vice President
Perception Strategies

Synnovatia is a strategic coaching firm that is detailed and knowledgeable about business. i have a small business that grew from $150K to $750K because of the goal setting and resources that Synnovatia provided. It saves me years of learning on my own.

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