During a follow up call with Marie, a Strategic Plan-tingWorkshop attendee, she mentioned that she was still working on her strategic priority for the quarter: updating her website. She was excited that she was making progress, but mentioned it wasn’t going as fast as she had indicated it should when she created her action plan for the task.
I smiled in response to her remarks for two reasons.
- I was pleased that she was taking action and moving forward on her plan.
- The challenge of meeting date expectations is fairly common.
Marie has a great attitude and immediately modified her action plan dates to be more achievable. And, she’s optimistic that she will finish within a reasonable amount of time.
But why is this a common issue? Why do I frequently hear that small business owners have challenges with accomplishing strategic priorities within the dates they initially set?
There are many reasons, but the most frequent is that in their enthusiasm to accomplish something exciting they overestimate the amount of time and energy they will be able to devote to the task. As a result, the original dates are not as realistic as they believe.
Sometimes, life itself gets in the way. I could have made that deadline if…
- I hadn’t caught a cold
- I hadn’t had that family emergency
- Business hadn’t been so gosh darn good
- That employee hadn’t quit, been in a car accident, etc.
You get the idea. Life is busy and doesn’t always conform to our agendas.
Sometimes, the small business owner may fail to prioritize his time properly. He will spend time on things that may or may not be urgent but definitely are not on his strategic radar. He may be distracted by shiny baubles. He may have trouble organizing his time. Or he may be practicing avoidance due to fear or other emotions.
On rare occasions, the strategic task he prioritized may no longer relevant. This doesn’t happen often, but can result when the owner isn’t honest about what he really wants, he listens to well-meaning advice that’s not congruent with whom he and his company is, or he mistakes a shiny bauble for an opportunity. When this happens, it’s time to return to the strategic plan and start working on the next most important tactic.
Regardless of the reason, it’s important to act like Marie, and immediately start working on creating new deadlines that are achievable. If necessary, forgive yourself, and move on. You can’t change the past, but you have the opportunity to be productive and move toward your vision today.
What’s holding you back? Can you move past it today?