Setting SMART goal setting for your small business ensures alignment and helps you recognize and make the most of your opportunities. The process is not complicated and helps you measure success. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timebound. Follow our guide for SMART goal examples and tips for setting business goals.
“It is never about the role – always about the goal.”
Goal setting is a critical part of the successful entrepreneur’s business planning process. Use this guide to understand:
- The importance of SMART goal setting
- Why set a SMART goal vs. just a goal
- The definition of a SMART goal
- Specifically: How to set a SMART goal
THE IMPORTANCE OF SMART GOAL SETTING
Setting SMART goals ensures your definition of success aligns with your priorities and resources. Your goals – having goals set with smart criteria – meaning specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goals for your business helps you recognize your opportunities and go after them with planned success.
Setting good goals is similar to what successful entrepreneurs and great leaders describe as deciding which chairs belong at your table!
Think about it. Like limited space, you have limited time. What are you focusing on? With regard to the psychology, you want to, and you will, use the three psychological elements of goal setting theory: motivation, commitment, and self-regulation; all three elements work together, leading to much greater achievement.
Get set. Let’s dive in and talk through SMART goal setting.
WHY SET SMART GOALS
The statistical results of goal setting are debated, but regardless, the results achieved from setting goals is high. Goals help you achieve your action plan. Why would you waste time making a plan if you didn’t want to achieve it? On a personal or professional level, you wouldn’t.
This article is not about debating one university’s study results vs. another. Bottomline – your results after setting goals will always be better than not setting goals, so do it.
The ultimate goal is to grow your business, but the psychology behind it is important because it is part of your “why.”
Do not underestimate the huge personal motivation that comes as a result of meeting your goals.
Dollars in your pocket. Yes. I get that, but every goal should lead to measuring success, then focusing on that next step, which ultimately lead to additional dollars in your pocket.
By design, SMART goals help you achieve exactly what you want. Let’s take a closer look at the definition of a SMART goal.
DEFINITION OF A SMART GOAL
What the letters of the SMART acronym stand for is also debated. That doesn’t matter either.
We use: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timebound.
You want to change it? Change it. You like attainable instead of achievable? That’s fine. In the end, you’re setting a smart goal regardless, and this commitment to your defined priorities leads to a much greater focus and achievement.
Whether your goal-setting is related to:
- overall goals on a personal level
- long-range business goals
- shorter-term social media marketing plans
- improvements you want to focus on such as improved marketing content, improving graphic design or digital media
- app development – or any business related topics
SMART goals help put achievement within reach.
Knowing you have what it takes to reach your goals is a huge motivator and makes you want to work toward your next goal, too. Whatever works, right?!
Entrepreneur: right now – set time on your calendar to set, review and/or revise your business goals.
Awaken your entrepreneurial spirit!
“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.”
Your business goals stay true to your mission and ultimately help you achieve your vision. They are most often broad, though SMART, and relate to improving productivity, your skillset and increasing profitability, while incorporating specifics through an actionable, smaller set of objectives.
Goal setting allows you to create steps that lead to the achievement of your vision. They help bring your vision to life! While we cannot predict the future, we can surely try and manage our path and how we react to it. Business goals help keep us on track, while being incredibly motivating, because they relieve the pressure of continual unknowns and time, by incorporating them as part of the path to success.
SPECIFICALLY: HOW TO SET A SMART GOAL
My goal is to [relevant, quantifiable objective] by [deadline], when [I/key players] do [what steps I’ll take to achieve the goal], resulting in [result or benefit].
Here is a SMART goal example:
- Not Smart: improve my productivity and stop wasting time
- SMART: My goal is to improve my time management skills by the end of next month, by learning and consistently utilizing three new tools, including a time management app, an online calendar with reminders, and a virtual assistant every day for 1 month, resulting in increased productivity.
A specific goal has clear, easily understood words, explains what needs to be done, what steps are required or helpful, and who will take what actions and when. A clearly written goal is unambiguous to the reader!
Measure your objectives qualitatively or quantitatively. You want to identify your track, stay on it and determine progress. Measurement doesn’t have to be based on a number, but measuring progress shows your accomplishment and let’s you know when you’ve crossed the finish line.
“A big business starts small.”
Consider what’s reasonable, realistic, and attainable using your research data. This doesn’t mean easy, but lofty goals set so high that falling short becomes the expectation are incredibly demotivating. There’s no need for reverse psychology in the goal-setting process.
Relevance is essential; goals need to matter. Though your goals must ultimately relate back to your vision and mission, guide yourself through realistic steps that can be taken today.
Including a specific timeline for completion ensures alignment and helps measure success. Consider your priorities, and balance out complexities with the amount time given to achieve the goal. You don’t want to create inefficiency by offering too much time. On the other hand, you don’t want to create stress from setting an unrealistically short window for completion. Yes, you can update it, but avoid the hassle by building in a fair amount of time.
“A goal is a dream with a deadline.”
Use this SMART goal guide to help write out and define your business goals :
My goal is to (relevant, quantifiable objective) by (deadline), when (I/key players) do (what steps I’ll take to achieve the goal), resulting in (result or benefit.)
It’s not complicated. Do NOT over-complicate the process!
Then use the guide provided as a checklist, and tweak your goal. Make sure every element is included.
(YES! It is backwards!!)
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”
– Steve Jobs
Use SMART goal setting to ensure you reach your goals
You’ve reached a pretty good understanding of SMART goal setting, right?
If so, our end goal has been achieved!
Remember these key points:
- Setting SMART goals eliminates generalities and guesswork.
- SMART goal setting ensures activities are aligned with priorities, and the process maximizes resources during a clear timeframe. You want to achieve your goal so set yourself up for success.
- Successful people understand that progress is easier to track, hurdles are easier to manage, and therefore, they are much more likely to meet their milestones.
- Write SMART goals to ensure you are focused and are able to measure the progress made. It’s not the size of the goals that matter; it’s having them. Goals ensure you are focused and not wasting excess time on mundane tasks that are not moving your business forward. All necessary tasks get a budgeted bucket of time, though. You don’t skip them. You manage them as part of your day.
In summary: Set your business goals as part of your business plan. (!) Track your progress and measure your progress along the way. Make adjustments such as tweaking the actionable steps you should take and your target date to help you reach your goals.
Habits of successful people do not include any assumption of knowing everything! The more goals you set and achieve though, the more successful you will become.
Setting goals is key to your success. We repeat:
“It is never about the role – always about the goal.” Lisa Haisha.
When you break down your overall plan, it’s a series of smart business goals leading you onward and upward. Don’t overcomplicate it. They are simply pieces of your plan. As a small business owner, your time and your resources are limited. Putting a SMART goal system in place will help ensure you’re on the right track.
Set yourself up for success.