Setting goals for yourself and your business is always a great idea, but some goals are better than others. It’s not enough to have good intentions for a positive end result, you need to be able to clearly define and articulate the progress you want to make.
This is where the idea of SMART goals comes in. The concept behind SMART is that goals work best when they are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic/Relevant, and Timely. Using this acronym to help define your business goals can transform a fuzzy, vague hope into a clear and strategic plan.
Specific goals are clear, well defined, and leave no room for interpretation. You will know when they are completed, because you know what steps you need to take to achieve the goal. When defining your goal, ask yourself the W’s: Who is involved in this goal, What do I want to accomplish, When/Where is this goal going to be achieved, and Why do I want to achieve this goal.
Measurable criteria is critical for effective goal setting. This helps to define the incremental steps you must take to determine your progress. To make a measurable goal, ask yourself about a specific quantity or other set of criteria you want to attain, and how you’ll know that you’ve reached your goal.
For example, instead of “I will make more sales this month”, try “I will complete 10 sales this month, following up on five leads a week until that goal is met” .
SMART goals must be achievable, but still challenging. You don’t want to set a goal so lofty that you’re bound to fail, but you do want to have goals that push you forward. When setting your goals, ensure they’re achievable by asking yourself if you have the resources and capabilities required, or the ability to get these things. If not, it might be time to reevaluate your goal.
For example, instead of saying “I’m going to provide the best customer service ever” (which is not attainable, measurable, or specific!), try “I am going to hire an intern to improve my customer service” – or, if that’s not feasible, “I am going to block off X hours a week to respond to customer service inquiries”.
Realistic & Relevant
Goals must also be realistic. Think about your time frame and resources. It is admirable to want to hire an intern, but do you really have the time and energy to supervise a new employee?
Relevance is key to staying motivated. It brings you back to why you’re setting your goal. Are you focusing on customer service because you have received negative reviews? That’s a great motivating factor, and will help keep you on track to meet your goals.
This is an important part of goal setting, but it is often overlooked. Goals should have a timeline that is clear and defined, with both start and end dates. These parameters help create a sense of urgency that will inspire you to keep working toward your goal.
Instead of “I will file my paperwork on time”, try “I will file all of my paperwork by the 25th of each month”, or “I will spend 20 minutes each day filing paperwork”.
Goals are like a to-do list. They should be revisited often, updated to reflect your current priorities, and offer clear steps to accomplishment. By using the SMART goals format you’re setting yourself and your business up for a smart, strategic plan for success!