On every episode of Shark Tank, my fellow Sharks and I meet with entrepreneurs who are taking risks by seeking to take their business — or idea — to a national audience. Some are ready, and some just are not there yet.
With each one of these entrepreneurs, we ask a similar question each time: what is your goal? When they come on the show, they should have a goal of where they want to grow to, in the short and long term. It is an essential question, and one that many small business owners are afraid not only to answer, but to even consider.
On a recent trip to Minnesota, we filmed the second season of Small Business Revolution — Main Street, a series in which I work with Amanda Brinkman from Deluxe Corporation to revitalize businesses in one small town. Our day with six small business owners from Bristol, Pennsylvania was incredibly productive, but one common parallel kept occurring: goal setting.
Small business owners fear setting short term or long term goals because they are afraid to fail. Even successful ones don't want to set expectations in case they don't reach them.
During a great meeting with Miguel, one of the six business owners from Bristol, we talked at length about how well he is doing (I won't name his business until the series comes out this Fall). Yet when we discussed setting goals to achieve greater success, he balked. His reluctance isn't surprising. In fact it is all too common.
Miguel provides a needed, and exceptional service, and he boasts a loyal customer base. He schedules his time and that of his team. He is the accountant, marketer, strategist, custodian and more. His business is doing fine, so setting a target he may not achieve can seem like failure. But is isn't.
Setting that stretch goal gives a small business owner the power to expect more of themselves. It provides motivation to try new tactics. It gives the small business owner an enormous sense of satisfaction once achieved. But so does reaching 20 percent or 30 percent of 50 percent of the goal. The business doesn't close if the goal isn't met. Each incremental advancement is a win.
"Successful businesspeople retain a quality most others not only lack but often fail to comprehend, and that's the unrelenting drive to convert a vision into reality," Any small business owner appears in this quote because they have brought a vision into reality. Yet the quest doesn't end when reality is achieved. By setting goals, you keep pushing yourself further to become even more successful and more inventive.
Through the Small Business Revolution, I've seen the struggles and triumphs of 12 remarkable small business owners. What I tell each of them is set a goal you want to achieve and strive to do so. Failure only comes when you don't try. Setting and working toward a goal will empower small business owners to achieve their potential. I know because I've done it.