According to recent research by the University of Scranton, 92% of people who set New Year’s Eve goals never achieve them. What’s the difference between the 92% of people who don’t meet their goals and the 8% who do?

Research by Edwin Locke and his academic partners answered that question back in the 1970s. Their research showed that the most achievable goals were ones that were specific and challenging. But they shouldn’t be so challenging that they can’t realistically be achieved.

Locke’s research showed that specific and challenging goals led to higher rate of achievement than easy goals. “Do your best” goals or no goals also met with failure. Based on their field work, the people who achieved their goals most often received feedback to keep them on track. They were given a reward such as money when they attained their goal, and they accepted their goals.

In other words, in a work setting, they were assigned a goal and they accepted the goal. And then had some input and ownership into how it was going (they got feedback and they wanted the reward).

So how can you put this information into practice? If you want to learn Italian so that you can attend an international conference in Rome next year, don’t just tell yourself that you want to “learn Italian.” Instead, set a specific and achievable goal. Set a goal to purchase a language learning program. Set a goal for yourself to complete a chapter every three days. Then set a goal to join a conversational group six months from now.

Those goals are specific and achievable. And there’s a pretty good reward attached to completing it. When you learn to create manageable goals, and give manageable goals to your employees, you’ve moved yourself from the realm of the 92% who consistently fail to meet their goals to the rare and few who actually do. That’s something to be proud of.

While you, as the business owner, are off saving the day — also known as securing new clients, talking to the media, paying people, getting paid, keeping your promises — your team of heroes is back at the office.

They’re the ones answering the phone, filling orders, answering emails and generally hustling to get the day’s work done. Build a great team, first and foremost. And when you have built a great team, treat each member with respect.

What turns ordinary people into heroes? Feeling needed. Our team must feel needed in order to truly become heroes. So, first off, hire good people. And then, empower them to do the work you hired them to do.

Don’t fall into the trap of telling yourself that only you can do the work the right way. Your team of heroes wants to do the work the right way too. Empower them to say the right things to customers. Empower them to make decisions. Empower them to go the extra mile for a customer. Just like you would. Right?

Sometimes, let’s face it, there’s not a lot of great joy in being an employee. When we hire people to do the work and then don’t give them the tools to do the work, we steal from them the joy that it is possible to get from being an employee. Their job is to be the hero of our team, and our job is to let them be the heroes of our team.

The free market is based on the idea of corporations forcing their employees to all work in concert as giant cogs in a smoothly turning gear.

The market is not very free, for the employees. While corporations are not the same as tyrannical regimes, they often behave in similar ways. Corporations keep their market position by removing all risk to the corporation. They do this by signing long-term contracts. They achieve monopolies on products and pricing, and never share their mechanisms or techniques. And, like tyrannical regimes, they keep their market position by asking employees to obey in advance.

Corporate employees are trained to anticipate what the corporation will want them to do, and then they do it, with no variations. This also means that it is very slow and costly for corporations to change. There’s no mechanism in place for growth or change. When a business asks their employees to obey in advance, they say no to courage.

This is exactly what you don’t want. Your small business may not ever be as profitable as a large corporation, but your nimbleness will let you survive when the next social media trend develops, or consumer tastes change.

This is all not to say that your business should be a complete democracy, where employees decide how they want to work. You set the pace and the tone for your workplace. Will it be one of freedom?

It’s a difficult shift in mindset to make. Can you really be better off without a client who is willing to give you money? When your business is just starting out or it’s not growing as fast as you would like, saying ‘No” is a hard place to be.

In my freelance career I would say “Yes” to any job. No matter how big or small. No matter how long it would take or how much I would get paid. No matter how much other work I had at the time. Why? Because I wanted to be the person who they would ask in the future. Many times, that worked out and I got repeat business. At other times, I got people who wanted me to do more work for the same pay. Or more work for less pay. Or more work on a faster, last-minute deadline. Or more work that they hadn’t thought out very well, so I got no guidance and didn’t give them what they wanted, then had to go back and fix it . . . on my own time. By saying yes to everything, in their mind I became the person who would, well, say yes to everything. I got taken advantage of.

I eventually learned that it is not only OK to say “No,” but that it is the responsible thing to do. Here’s why.

A client who takes up all of your mental time and energy leaves you nothing left for the other clients. The less demanding clients deserve your best attention to, and you can’t give it to them if you’re mopping up after one client all the time.

Saying “No” to a low-paying client frees up your schedule to say “Yes” to a higher paying one. It’s hard to believe that turning down money leads to more money, but it does. If you spend 5 hours a week on one client paying you $50 an hour, that’s $250. Yes, that’s a lot. But if you find 3 clients willing to pay you $100, you’re already $50 ahead. Take that 5 hours you would have spent working for the low-paying client and send out emails, make phone calls, beef up your website, or other efforts to improve your business attractiveness and find better paying clients.

Should you fire a client?

I’m not suggesting you fire a client just because the relationship is temporarily difficult or they have given you a job that is more demanding than usual. All client relationships will have their ups and downs. A relationship that starts out difficult can often be smoothed over. What I’m suggesting here is ongoing patterns of behavior in your client relationship where it’s just not worth the effort to continue.

Here’s when to know you probably should let that client go.

  • They don’t heed your recommendations.

If the client doesn’t follow your recommendations, it’s likely a red flag. They hired you as the expert, so if they don’t believe that you know what’s best, why work together?

  • They don’t respect your boundaries.

You ask that you not get urgent tasks after 6pm, but they still text you or email you wanting answers before they go to bed at night. That’s a sign of disrespect that is going to make it hard for you to do an effective job for them.

  • Your hourly rate doesn’t meet your limits.

After all the work is done, the time you spent on them and the amount of money you receive in return just doesn’t add up. I have said yes to jobs in the past where I got a set amount, like $500. After tracking my hours, I realized I was approaching minimum wage for the work I did! Even if I asked for more and got it, the amount of time I put into these projects took me away from my family and other higher-paying jobs for almost a month each year. I said no to those jobs in the future, and it was not hard to make up that income. Even if I lost the $500, I was happier.

  • They don’t respond.

You just can’t work with a client who is going to fall off the map when you’re waiting for information and guidance. You’ll be stressed out and not make progress.

  • You dread it.

You see the email or phone call from this client and your stomach starts to groan. It’s just not worth it.

It’s ok to let it go.

The building where I work is getting a new roof. It’s been needed for a while. It’s an old building, and when leaks developed in the original roof, the building owners didn’t patch the roof. They put a new roof over that one. They’ve put four roofs on over the original one. So over the years when leaks developed, they would trickle down through the layers of roofing and the leak would come out nowhere near the actual hole.

I was talking with a graphic designer and web developer friend of mine recently, the day after the roofing work started. She said she had a client who created a website several years ago with a sentence containing a date. It’s one of those situations we try to avoid when we’re writing web text. It says something like, “We started this site 5 years ago…” and each year it’s wrong, because another year has gone by. (Say, “We started this site in 2010…” Problem solved.)

This client also used a non-web-based font for this text. So they had to add this text to their website as an image. Even if the designer sent them a file that they could edit, they wouldn’t be able to because they wouldn’t have the fonts.

The result? Every year they have to ask the designer to update the image and put it on their site. They’re paying her hourly fee to do this. She’s suggested that they replace the text with a different font that they can edit themselves. They keep saying no to this because paying her to replace the text costs a little bit more than paying her to fix the image each year.

Seth Godin said there are three ways to deal with a problem:

Lean into it.

Lean away from it.

Run away.

When you lean into a problem, you can solve it. Our roofers now are pulling up 5 layers of roofing material to get to the original roof so that they can finally, after decades, give it a proper fix. My friend’s client is going to pay a lot more for the website updating over the life of the site because they are running away from the solution of being able to update it themselves. Each year they pay $50 to have her fix this, when one year they could pay $100 to have her fix it permanently.

If you feel like you’re constantly butting up against something that you have to keep dealing with in an unpleasant way, give a little thought to how you can fix it. Not patch it. Fix it.

Are you constantly deleting unwanted emails? Decide that for one week you’re going to take the extra few seconds to unsubscribe from the unwanted emails. I’ve done this, and it’s amazing at what a lighter feeling I get now looking at my inbox.

Are you constantly paying someone for something that is on ongoing or recurring issue on your website? Maybe your inventory isn’t tracking very efficiently. Maybe you send out emails and they don’t get read. Maybe you’re meeting with people, but they don’t call you back.

Lean into the problem until you can find a way to fix it. Leaning away from a problem and running away from a problem are never going to pay off in your favor.

You signed up to be a business owner! But you didn’t major in bookkeeping in college, or marketing. Payroll or scheduling is always stressful, and you don’t look forward to inventory day. What can you do to spend more time on what you love about your business?

Now that you’ve been in business for a while, you probably spend a lot of time things you don’t like doing. Like resolving problems between employees. Customer service issues. And managing the mountain of business-related paperwork that never seems to get smaller. But what you really need to do is get to the grocery store. And your kids have been begging for one-on-one time.

Owning a business is stressful. Many business owners find out that they don’t have the time to do what they truly love about the business. Or, at least, not what they hoped they’d be doing as a business owner. Here are 5 ways to spend more time on what you love about your business.

1. Use scheduling tools.

The beauty of tools such as Facebook and Hootsuite is that you can write something now and get it ready to post days, weeks or months in advance. Do what you can when you have time, and these tools will let you skip days when you don’t.

2. Hire out what you love least.

If you’re constantly stressed about bookkeeping, or blog post writing, find a professional to do those things for you. The more stressed you are about the big things that you really don’t like doing, the less time and energy you have for the little things. Businesses big and small have professional service providers. You can too.

3. Give yourself permission to say no.

Your friends, or your kid’s school, may think that because you are a business owner, you have employees to manage everything for you. They may truly not realize how busy you are. When you get asked to do things like help out with the school’s holiday party or coach little league, there’s no need to recite a list of everything you’re already doing.

Train yourself to say something like, “That sounds fun, I’m sorry I can’t help.” Or, “I’d like to, but my schedule is full.” Resist the urge to say, “ask me next time,” because that’s setting yourself up for a similar question next week. Instead, ask for a calendar of events they need help for so you can sign up in advance. Or tell them what you can do. Say, “I have time on Monday afternoons, so if you need any help on those days, let me know.”

The more you practice this, the easier it gets!

4. Give your employees permission to make decisions.

Since I’ve worked in marketing and also writing articles for so many years, I have had a lot of experiences with small business owners who missed out on being interviewed by our town’s newspaper or magazine simply because they weren’t around, and no one else could speak for them.

You can’t be on call or in the office every hour of every day. Designate one of your employees to speak to the press on your behalf. A trusted employee can handle problems as they arise, so if you aren’t reachable your employees can still make progress.

I’ve met business owners who set aside Wednesdays as personal days, and refused to answer their phone or email at that time. There’s no harm in doing this, and in fact this may be a good way to preserve your sanity. But do empower your employees to move forward even if you can’t be reached.

5. Focus on what you did do, not what you should have done.

Set your agenda for the day, but leave some wiggle room for the unexpected things that come up. I am a list maker. I have found that I continually put about 3 times as many items on my daily to-do list as I can reasonably accomplish. I’m stressed when it’s the end of the day and I still have incomplete tasks.

I have found that simply keeping things reasonable helps so much. Write down the most important items, and hold a couple back. If you find that you have more time, you can always add them. And at the end of the day, look at what you did, and praise yourself. That’s a lot more pleasant than looking at what you didn’t do and feeling upset.

I just got back from Las Vegas, where I attended two different, very large trade shows and conventions that were both happening the same week. Both of these events are large enough to draw people from all over the world, and both are in extremely different industries. One I had attended before and the other I had not.

I picked up literature of the numerous business development seminars being offered at both events. One topic each offered was a session on the theme of working with Millennials. The first conference had a seminar about managing and motivating your team based on personality, and leadership in a multi-generational workforce, both of which addressed Millennials. The other offered a similar program entitled “Managing in the Multi-Generational Workplace.”

Both sessions referenced the exit of Baby Boomers from our workforce and the influx of Millennials. This is a broad name for a group of people born in the years 1980 to 1999. According to Forbes, by 2025 Millennials will make up to 75% of the world’s working population.

Each generation is convinced that the other generations “just don’t get it.” This feeling can lead to confusion and friction in the workplace. The second session described “radically different core motivations” for each generation. I’m personally experiencing that as I’m working with one team of older people who have been very slow to accept technological advances. This older group is not comfortable doing things such as updating a website. Even the “simple” things such as using Dropbox or accessing services like Google Drive through a gmail account, which is very common in work places now, is very challenging for this particular group of people. Because of this, their business has suffered.

We’re not suggesting that every Millennial is the same, but in general, researchers have concluded that Millennials have certain differences. Here are our tips for working with Millennials. Leave your own tips or experiences in the comments!

Millennials are motivated by things other than money.

Millennials place a high priority on healthy work-life balance. They want flexible work times, the ability to work from home, paid time off and personal days that they can use without feeling guilty. They appreciate workplace perks such as a stocked cafeteria or access to professional development courses or training so they can advance.

Millennials want to understand why.

Whereas older generations would likely do what they are told without question, Millennials will be more likely to ask, “Why?” That doesn’t mean that the Millennial is being disrespectful or questioning your authority, as that question might come across. It means they want to know your decision-making process. They want to know what the end goal is and how their piece is working towards it. They want a chance to see the big picture and give their opinion.

Millennials like feedback, but they also like to work independently.

That doesn’t mean they can’t be part of a team, but they don’t like to be micromanaged. And really, who does! Give them clear tasks and expectations, and a deadline, and let them do it. If they don’t meet the goals, then have a discussion about what might change. But there’s no need to check in with them on a daily basis as long as they have a clear idea of what they are supposed to be working on.

Many people have said, “Millennials don’t like to be told what to do, but it’s my job to tell them what to do.” How does that work together? Find a balance of granting autonomy while giving them space to check in with you when they feel they need to. When they do check in, provide honest feedback and praise where appropriate. Millennials seem to appreciate an employee-employer relationship that is more like mentorship than, “do what I say because I’m the boss.”

Millennials are more likely to have tattoos and piercings, and colored hair.

So what? Honestly, I’ve never met anyone whose tattoos or haircut affected how they did their job. Look at their talent and how they do their work, rather than their appearance. If their appearance is causing friction with other employees, address everyone at a meeting–you don’t single out a Millennial in front of the crowd–to make sure that everyone knows the dress code. Tell the employees who are having a hard time with the appearance that if the tattoo or piercing is actually affecting the Millennial’s job in some documentable way, you want to hear about it. But in the meantime, they should focus on doing their own work to the best of their ability.

Millennials are multi-taskers.

Millennials grew up with televisions, phone, computers, laptops, Kindles and tablets. And they use them. Don’t worry, unless the gadgets are affecting their work in some documentable way.

Millennials are early adopters of technology.

They are more likely to produce and upload content online than any other generation. This makes them a good choice for marketing and social media positions. If your company culture discourages the use of technology and social media, your Millennial will not be happy. Let the Millennial lead some workshops to teach other employees how to do things.

What are your own experiences and tips for working with Millennials?