Three Reasons Why You May Not Achieve Your 2023 Business Goals

By: John Hotson,
Business Transition Alliance Co-Founder

It seems like it was only yesterday you sat down and laid out your business goals for the year, with 12 months ahead of you. But here we are, halfway through March, and 20% of the year is gone.

How are you doing on achieving the goals you’ve identified as priorities for 2023?

Most business owners are very good at knowing what they need to do to improve their business. They can identify the things they need to put in place, and can lay out a plan that will deliver the changes the company needs to make. They can assign the individuals or create the teams that will implement the plan to reach their goals.

So why aren’t businesses making better progress in achieving those goals?

The Tyranny of the Urgent

The rationale I most often hear for lack of progress is, “Our people get pulled into client emergencies and putting out fires. We spend so much time working ‘in’ our business that we don’t have time to work ‘on’ our business. Working on our goals gets put aside.”

More often then not this ‘tyranny of the urgent’ is a rationalization and is not the real reason people aren’t doing the work that needs to be done to address the priorities for the business.

In observing this all too common phenomenon with business owners, I find the inability to make meaningful progress with their goals boils down to three things.

1) Unrealistic Expectations

While their goals may be well thought out and exactly what is needed to take the business to the next level, in many cases owners are too focused on the big picture outcome and haven’t considered the baby steps that need to be taken to achieve their goals. There is little or no recognition that the path forward is not a straight line, but a series of successes and failures that will eventually get them there.

Achieving meaningful change in a business is rarely the result of one significant activity. Rather it comes as a result of a series of smaller achievements that will ultimately take the business to where it wants to be.

Setting goals that are too lofty will cause people to put off doing the work required and replace it with tasks they are more comfortable doing.

Is your goal for the year too lofty to be realistically achieved in the timeframe you’ve allocated for it? Are there smaller, more achievable activities that will gradually get you closer to your target?

2) No Shared Commitment

The owner or CEO most often set the company’s direction. These individuals tend to have the best view of the big picture opportunities for the business and are the ones who have the most at stake in seeing the business succeed.

While the managers, who are charged with implementing the actions that will achieve the goals may agree on a plan in theory, they may not be as invested in the outcome as the person who has set those goals.

If owners don’t take the time to bring management into the goal setting process, the people who are responsible for achieving the results won’t have the personal investment in doing the work that is required. As a result they will focus on other activities they are more comfortable with to fill their days.

Is your team committed to doing what needs to be done to go in the direction you want take the company? Do they share your vision for the future?

3) Procedural Paralysis

As the CEO or owner of a business you wear multiple hats. Two of these hats are running the day-to-day operations and leading the charge to take the business to the next level. Managing both often requires considering two diametrically opposed ideas.

No easy task. For example, investing now in a new CRM system may be the right thing to do to substantially grow the business, but this investment may be coming at a time when cash flow is tight and you need to conserve money.

Scott Fitzgerald famously wrote: “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”

Managing opposing ideas can cause a state of mind known as Cognitive Dissonance – holding two conflicting beliefs, values, or attitudes. Part of you wants to do one thing (buy the CRM system) while the other part wants to do something else (focus on managing your cash flow).

Cognitive Dissonance can cause mental discomfort, and humans being human avoid discomfort most often by putting off making decisions. In our example, the reassurance that comes from preserving cash may override the desire to significantly grow the business, and result in slowing down the process of implementing the plan for growth.

Are you stalled because you haven’t resolved how to balance the demands of operating the business with the need to take the company to the next level?

Break the Cycle

Implementation thrives on momentum. Any or all of the factors mentioned above will create a cycle of putting off implementing the plan to improve your business.

Is today the day you break that cycle?

If so I’d be glad to have a conversation with you about how we can help you get started on building some momentum into the implementation of your plans to take your business to the next level.

About John Hotson:

John is a speaker, entrepreneur, writer and senior business advisor. He is a founding partner of the Business Transition Alliance and works hands-on with business owners to help them develop and implement effective strategies that increase the value and profitability of their business as they prepare to grow or exit their business.


Phone: 416 697 2776

LinkedIn: John Hotson


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