Whether you’re in the process of writing your first business plan or you’ve been leading your small business for years, goal setting is an important aspect of success. Goals can help you to direct your business and keep you motivated toward growth. According to Psychology Today and research conducted by psychologist Gail Matthews, individuals who wrote down goals were 33% more likely to be successful than those who created goals in their heads.
Simply stating that you want to create a business that will grow doesn’t lay out a concrete plan of action on how you’ll get there and what you want to achieve. The more specific and clear you are about your goals, the more likely you are to achieve them. Vague goals can make it hard to develop an actionable plan for achievement. This can leave you and your employees floundering and unclear on what success looks like and what path you’ll take to get there.
What Are SMART Goals?
SMART goals are objectives you create that are:
- Realistic or Relevant.
This concept was created to help business owners and individuals create more effective goals that can be easily measured and understood by all those seeking to achieve them.
Many businesses use this standard to set goals so they can not only identify the goal they want to achieve, but also the timeline to achieve it in. SMART goals continue to increase motivation and keep all teammates on the same page with common objectives. While all five elements are important, some goals won’t meet every aspect of the SMART acronym but they can still be effective.
SMART Goals Examples
Example #1: A real estate agent wants to get four new listings within the next six months.
- This goal is specific because it identifies exactly how many listings are needed to achieve it.
- It’s also measurable because the number of new listings can be easily assessed.
- The real estate agent must create a plan, such as sending out mailers or calling past clients, to make this goal attainable.
- This goal is relevant because adding more listings will grow the agent’s client base and future business.
- The goal is timely because the agent wants to accomplish it within six months.
With this goal, the real estate agent’s business and profit can grow. By using the SMART acronym to narrow down the goal, the agent knows exactly what to do to achieve it. By setting a goal date, the agent can stay motivated to aggressively work toward the goal.
Example #2: A small business startup owner wants to increase website traffic by 10% in the next month.
- The business owner sets a specific goal within a facet of the business’s marketing plan.
- As long as the business owner has a way to track website traffic, this goal is also measurable.
- To make this goal attainable, the small business owner must create a plan, such as promoting the website on social media.
- This is a relevant goal because increasing website traffic can also increase business and brand recognition for the company.
- By deciding this increase must be completed in the next month, the business owner has made this goal timely.
Increasing traffic to the company website is a SMART goal because it’s measurable and will grow the business in the long run. The business owner can implement a strategic plan to increase website traffic. With a deadline, the team can stay motivated to achieve the goal.
Writing SMART Goals
When you write SMART goals for your business, you’ll need to think about each element both separately and as a whole.
When you’re specific about your goal, it’s easier to develop a strategy to reach it. To be specific, answer the “W” questions:
- Who: Pinpoint who you need to achieve this goal.
- What: Identify the goal.
- When: Figure out when you can achieve it.
- Where: Narrow down where you’ll need to focus to get to your goal.
- Why: Ask yourself why you need to achieve this goal and how it’ll contribute to your business’s success.
Define Measurable Benchmarks
While setting a deadline for your goal is important, you should also have strategies to measure your progress. Identify the metrics you can use for your specific goal, such as the number of customers you’ve acquired, the number of new followers on social media, or the number of product sales.
Create Attainable Targets
Ask yourself important questions to ensure the goal is attainable, such as:
- Do I have enough manpower?
- Do I have the skills to reach this goal?
- Do I have the tools I need?
Ensure It Is Realistic
Even if you have the resources you need to achieve the goal, make sure it’s realistic for your business. Analyze your business’s current condition and ensure your goal will help move your business along to where you want it to go.
For example, if you’re just starting a new business, it may not be the best time to create three new products. To create a relevant and realistic goal, you may first need to focus on marketing your first product and growing brand recognition.
Create A Timeline
Create an end date for your goal and list a few dates you can use as benchmarks for your progress. By checking in along the way, you can ensure you and your employees are on track and make adjustments if you aren’t. By creating a solid timeline, you’ll also feel more motivated to reach your goals since you may feel the pressure of a time crunch.
Long Term SMART Goals
It’s not enough to set one goal and achieve it. If you want your business to continue being successful, keep applying SMART goals to your business plan. To create long-term SMART goals, you must:
- Revise: Once you’ve achieved a goal, your next SMART goal can tackle a new area of business.
- Pivot: If you encounter an obstacle that makes your goal impossible, be open to editing the goal so it still applies to the SMART elements.
- Optimize: Once you’ve achieved a goal, set a new one that’s more aggressive and will help grow your business.
SMART goals can help you focus on business growth effectively, so you can achieve short-term and long-term success while staying realistic and motivated.