Launching a new business is a risky venture and you need a resilient mindset to deal with all the ups and downs. Confidence helps, but if you’re over-confident, you can get over-optimistic, which can lead to disappointment. Success is never guaranteed, and this should never be forgotten during the journey of building your business. Of course, planning for the future is an important part of realizing your objectives, but it’s crucial that you don’t set your expectations too high, because this will only lead to frustrations and more stress.

Managing expectations is an integral part of running a successful business. We all have different expectations as we move from one situation to the next – sometimes they’re more subconscious and at other times they’re more calculated – but how we respond to our own expectations and the expectations of others can impact our lives greatly. They affect our relationships with family, friends, and colleagues, and even change the way we view ourselves. This makes it essential to frequently check how realistic our expectations are. We can then review our achievements rationally and continue to work toward our objectives with cautious optimism.



Common Mistakes


Being over-optimistic is a common mistake when starting up a business, but it’s important to be realistic about the potential of your business. Some people make the mistake of taking on too many employees, or spending too much on equipment and premises. Doing the proper research and planning in the initial stages is key to building a viable business and managing expectations.

Focusing on sales rather than profit is a mistake often made by many newbies in business. During the early stages, it can be tempting to accept as many customers or clients as possible without assessing the risks involved. For example, it’s sometimes impossible to fulfill all your orders without setting up the proper business structure from the beginning. This means you should focus on your core audience in the early stages and not be tempted to diversify too soon.

Developing a realistic business plan is fundamental to building a resilient business. When you have clarity, you’re more equipped to deal with potential problems and monitor your progress. It also helps you to focus on the right target audience and optimize your marketing strategies.



Developing Realistic Expectations

Different people manage expectations in their own unique ways. Some set them too low, hoping never to be disappointed, while others set them too high because they are too confident. Both ways can be dangerous, especially in the early stages of building a business.

Setting low expectations is really a defense mechanism used to avoid any potential disappointments and can result in a lack of effort and real ambition. When you set the bar too low, you’re basically robbing yourself of a chance to grow – professionally and personally.

Setting high expectations just leads to frustration and risks damaging personal and working relationships. High expectations can lead to disillusionment, which in turn can drain your motivation and increase negative thoughts.

It’s easy to see why people choose to place themselves at either end of the spectrum – in the early stages of a business venture, it’s impossible to know what a “realistic” expectation is. At first, you need to try not to expect anything at all, and then just see how it goes. When you start to see results, you can then see what is realistic for you personally.

Every business is unique and therefore needs a unique set of expectations. When you learn what is realistic for you, you can then start to be more optimistic and aim slightly higher next time. As with many situations in life, the trick to managing expectations in business seems to be to expect less, and then when we get more than we anticipated, it’s a bonus. This approach also promotes a positive mindset and boosts our motivation.



The Three Categories of Expectation

When you look more closely at your own perceptions and become more aware of those around you, you can begin to set more realistic expectations. There are three main categories of expectation:


  • Expectations you set for yourself

Most of the time, we know our own limits. It’s important to push yourself, but not beyond your own abilities. This will only lead to disappointment. To get the balance right and to nurture your strengths, try to develop your own abilities one step at a time by steadily challenging yourself in new situations, but never giving yourself too much to cope with.


  •  Expectations you set for your family and friends

We all respond to the actions of others and subconsciously judge other people based on expectations you set for those around you. Try to become more consciously aware of how you perceive others. Remember that every person is unique, with different ways of approaching different situations. People don’t know what you expect of them unless you communicate with each individual on a regular basis.


  • Expectations you set for colleagues and people you lead

If you’re in the position of managing other people, it’s just as important that they understand what you expect of them. You can’t expect people to know exactly what you want unless you clearly explain your thoughts. Make sure you discuss what is expected, how to accomplish it, and a time frame in which it will be delivered. By monitoring the course of each project, you can also manage any delays or potential risks.



Do You Need to Reframe Your Expectations?

To make sure your expectations are as realistic as possible, it’s worth taking a good look at your business idea before you invest too much time and money into it. There are some fundamental questions you need to ask yourself to determine the viability of your business:

  •  Have you identified your target market?
  •  Is your target market large enough?
  •  Who are your competitors?
  •  How will your potential customers find you?
  •  Why should they buy from you and not another company?
  •  How will you market your products or services?
  •  How much will you charge for your products or services?
  •  Can you run the business by yourself?
  •  Can you afford to take on full-time staff?


Some people don’t even consider some of these essential questions before going ahead with their business idea, and it can lead to disappointment and a lot of frustration. It’s far better to have your eyes wide open and consider every eventuality so that your expectations are more realistic from the beginning. Otherwise, you risk feeling like you’ve failed, when in reality you simply failed to plan properly.

It’s also worth remembering that clients and customers will not always pay on time, so you need to build this into your expectation levels. Once you take the time to ask yourself some of these difficult questions, you may need to reframe your expectations so that they’re more in line with what you can realistically achieve.



Managing Customer Expectations

As well as managing the expectations of those around you, customer expectations obviously play a major part in the long-term success of a business. Many businesses make the mistake of overpromising and then underdelivering, and it can be fatal to the reputation of a business. From marketing to public relations, the key to managing customer expectations is to clearly and honestly communicate who you are and what you’re offering.

For example, if you say you will deliver a product before a specific date in exchange for x number of dollars, you must deliver on your promise. What you don’t want to do is promise too much and fail to deliver. Make sure you have systems in place to make sure you can always meet customer expectations. If, for any reason, you are going to miss a deadline, it’s much better to be honest about it upfront rather than to miss the deadline and have a disappointed customer. It’s far better to underpromise and overdeliver. For example, a customer that receives goods earlier than expected will be more satisfied with your company and much more likely to order from you again in the future.



Taking It Further

It’s important to take pride in small victories, so even if you don’t set the bar very high at first, still take the time to recognize your accomplishments. When you first start a new business, don’t set unrealistic goals for yourself – you’re likely to end up feeling disappointed when you fail to deliver. When you’re comfortable with what you know you can achieve, you can then start to challenge yourself more and raise your expectation levels. As your business grows and changes over time, it’s worth remembering the following points:

  •  It’s important for professional and personal growth to strive for improvement. But do it one step at a time, and don’t reach too high too soon
  •  Make sure you regularly communicate with family, friends, and colleagues, so they know what your expectations are at any given time
  •  Never promise to deliver more than you can handle, but always try to deliver more than you promised
  •  Remember that everyone has different levels of expectation, so don’t make assumptions about others

By setting realistic expectations for yourself and those around you, you’re more likely to reach your business goals without too much disappointment and find more satisfaction during the journey of building a business. When you get the balance right, you’ll also enjoy happier, more rewarding relationships.




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