Using Smart Goals to Achieve More
As a small business owner, you’re likely always looking for ways to achieve more. Maybe you made a New Year’s resolution about it. You might have resolved to make more money, find more clients, or grow your business. It’s fantastic to have an idea of what you want to do, but how will you know whether or not you’re successful?
That’s where SMART goals come in. SMART goals help you identify what you want to do, when you want to do it by, and how you’ll get it done. They give you a systematic way of deciding what goals are important—and realistic—and evaluating whether or not you’ve attained them.
SMART goals help you plan for success. They turn your resolution into action.
What are SMART goals?
SMART goals stand for goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.
Here’s an example of a goal that is not SMART: “I want to grow my business.”
Why isn’t it SMART? It says nothing about how the business will grow, how long growth will take, how it will be attained, or how success will be measured. It’s vague, so you have no idea if you’ve been successful.
Growing your business is a great starting point for a SMART goal because you know there is something you want to achieve.
Now you need to use SMART goal setting to lay out your plan.
How to use SMART goals
To use SMART goal setting you need to ask yourself important questions. Let’s take the above example of growing a business.
Specific: Ask yourself how you want your business to grow. Do you want more customers? More revenue? More employees? What does “growth” mean?
Measurable: How many more customers do you want? How much more money do you want to earn? How many more employees do you want? Numbers work best here.
Achievable: How do you plan to reach your goal? Do you have the resources to make it happen?
Realistic: Do you currently have 50 customers but want 100 within a week? It’s great to have goals that challenge you but asking yourself to do the impossible sets you up for failure.
Timely: How long will you give yourself to find new customers or employees? Be specific with deadlines. Don’t just say you want something done ASAP or within the year. Set a reasonable, firm deadline that gives you a chance to review your goals and determine how successful you’ve been.
Here’s the same thought above, but written from a SMART perspective:
By October 31, I will have signed ten new customers for my services by purchasing advertising in the local newspaper, attending networking events, and posting on my blog once a week.
As your deadline approaches, you’ll know to review your customer list and see if you’ve signed ten new ones. If you have, great! If not, review your action plan and see where changes could be made.
It’s great to have an idea of what you want to do, but without SMART goals all you have is an idea.
The great thing about SMART goals is you’re not limited to one goal at a time. Let’s say you want to grow your business both in terms of customers and employee size. You can set SMART goals for both those areas and work toward both at the same time.
Once you’ve achieved your goals, you can look forward to setting additional successful goals for yourself in the future.