Three-quarters of SMEs shifted direction in some way. iwoca’s survey revealed that 75% of SME owners said the direction of their business had changed in some way since their original plan. Moreover, when reflecting on their original business plans, 17% of SME owners decided to change the direction of their business entirely.
Since this change in direction, 67% of these SME owners now have an annual turnover of £500,000+, and 18% have an annual turnover of over £1 million.
Changing the business plan is not the only way business owners say things didn’t go as expected. Almost two-thirds (60%) of SME owners didn’t achieve their short-term goals within their initial time frame and budget.
The survey reveals that over two-fifths (44%) of SME owners who said they needed extra time to complete their initial goals took 7–12 months longer on average.
Sharon Pocock, founder of accountancy firm Kinder Pocock: ‘Focus in business is extremely important, but that doesn’t necessarily mean everything will go to plan or exactly how you set out as part of your original strategy. As Accountants, our job is to help this process and make sure the business owners we work with continue to evolve and maintain their focus while remembering why they started in the first place. Make sure the business is working for you, not you working for the business.’
The survey also reveals that long-term goals often (in 50% of cases) took at least 13 more months than expected. To combat this, 17% of business owners reduced their short-term goals to achieve them within their initial time frame and budget. Furthermore, 22% said they had to increase their budget to achieve their goals.
iwoca spoke to life coach and therapist Danny Greeves about the importance of realistic goal setting: ‘Setting achievable goals is fundamental to staying motivated and focused on achieving your business dreams. When we set a realistic goal and achieve it, our brain gives us a burst of the feel-good chemical dopamine.’
‘But, on the other hand, when we set an unrealistic goal, we begin to accumulate evidence that we cannot do what we do; this increases self-doubt and leads to the self-image shrinking.’
SME owners face loss of sleep and a lack of work-life balance. iwoca’s survey also highlights SME owners’ mental and physical challenges when starting a business. The most common physical/mental challenge was the loss of sleep, which affected one in six (16%) respondents.