Developing Smart Goals for Your Business

As business owners, we all have goals. Goals of growth, income, staffing and more. Many times this is a numbers game, and whatever it takes to get the goal is what’s necessary. Sometimes our goals are a little more complicated and we must start developing SMARTER goals for business.

Is developing S.M.A.R.T.E.R. goals new to you? Perhaps it is not, but a refresher is in order? Maybe you’ve heard of SMART goals, but not SMARTER? Regardless, allow me to show you the SMARTER goal!

What is a SMARTER Goal?

Making a SMARTER goal help you ensure that it is not an unrealistic goal. SMARTER goals are not just a single word or title, but they also include some background. When we are developing a SMARTER goal, we are building it in such a way as we can achieve it. Let us break down a SMARTER goal into its component parts.

partial view of a compass pointing toward the word goal, depicting the culmination of smarter goals

Specific: Your goal must be as specific as possible. In business, this first part is important. There are many other areas that pull our attention away. Without a specific goal, you can get distracted, waste effort on tasks that do not really achieve what you want and make it difficult to define success.

Measurable: To know if you reached your goal, you must have some indication that it has been accomplished. That might mean that you have a certain number of employees working in the business, be able to hire some management, or give yourself a raise. All of these have numbers involved or other factors that you can easily see progress on or create milestones toward your goals.

Attainable: The goal must be something that you can do. My business probably should not branch into skin care products. We do IT services and what could we possibly show our skin care expertise to someone with acne? There might be a structural obstacle in your business to a particular goal. You might need to do a little research on your goal first.

Relevant: In reviewing your goal, is it relevant to the continued success of your business? That is what we are here for of course. Our thriving businesses is foremost on our minds.  Will taking on a new product or service really give you that? Have you spoken to others offering these? How are they doing with it? How does this goal relate to your businesses mission statement or values?

Time-bound: The last quality of your goal needs to be that it should have a completion date. When do you expect to have met the other criteria of this goal? This is important because goals without end are not really goals at all. They are a distraction and can grow into a source of frustration. The purpose of the goal is to create an accomplishment. You are committing to yourself a course of action to make your business better in a measurable and meaningful way. This needs to have a date. Of course, the unforeseen can occur, and that date may have to change, but you will have to hold yourself to account. I find milestones (or mini goals within your SMARTER goal) a great way to measure progress and make sure you are staying on target.

Evaluate: This is the first action-oriented part of your goal. This is the Evaluation of your progress as you work to achieve your goal. As you are writing out your goal, add a commitment to regularly check in, and evaluate your progress. Are you meeting the timeline? Has your goal been forced to change since you created it? There could be factors outside your control that require you to change your goal. This is the time to review your goal and see where you’re at. If you did have to change something, then the next step will help with that.

Reset: After you’ve done your regular evaluation of your goal, you may find there’s adjustments to be made. Goals aren’t always fixed and unchanging. The journey to make change requires learning, and learning can bring you information you never knew before. If you could have had the information when you created your goal, you might not need the evaluation. On the other hand, you might not need the goal! You’ll want to do this reset step every time you do your evaluation.

Developing SMARTER Goals

Now that we have a definition out of the way, we can dive into the process of developing SMARTER goals. I like to start with the simplest explanation at first. So, “Land an account with Acme Accounting”, is a simple start. The next step is to run down the list and see about creating this goal.

It’s pretty specific but let’s perhaps look into who is the decision maker. Some early research into the company can reveal an important contact to target. Being this specific also helps guide us to next steps, like finding former or current employees to network with.

Getting the account is measurable, so you can easily determine your success. You may have some other clients who are doing accounting, so it seems attainable. Now you ask yourself if it’s relevant. Is it a client that helps you achieve other goals in your business? Are they a firm that has a size and revenue that matches your target market? Do they seem stable, or have they had a lot of turnover and perhaps recently downsized?

The next one is how can you give yourself a reasonable timeframe to accomplish this? It will probably take more than a month, given the sales cycles of these businesses. You may not really know what the decision-making process is, or if they have any pending projects, so those do not help. Use statistics of the last few businesses you have gotten and make an educated guess. You might also adjust the goal to be “Present a proposal to Acme Accounting”, since it may take months for them to accept it.

Now, commit to a regular check in to evaluate your goal, and reset any qualities of it that need to occur. In this case you’ll want to probably check in on progress weekly. As you proceed, you may need to adjust the check in recurrence especially for longer sales cycles. We must thoughtfully tread a fine line between being a pest and being there at the right time.

Making SMARTER Choices

Now that you have a goal and you have checked off all the boxes, you must address the hard part. Staying on task. By making a SMARTER goal, you have already started thinking about some work that you will need to do to make it real.

You now should spend some time taking those points and start thinking about all the steps you will need to accomplish. Breaking a goal down into smaller steps helps make the overall goal less intimidating. Some folks will become overwhelmed without a plan, so take the time to make one.

Man holding an apple and a donut having to choose in order to achieve smarter goals

Once you get a plan, you need to check in with yourself. Make sure to put reminders in your calendar for follow ups, schedule research time, and other key tasks. If you have an accountability partner, group, or coach, you might find check-ins even easier.  Getting feedback on your challenges, stumbles, and wins help you right along the way. We cannot manage it all ourselves.

Track your progress in a journal or other way you can use to look back on your goal. You might find there is always some things you would like to review after you have finished that could help for future goals. There is always a future goal – making them SMARTER means you will have SMARTER results to review! I hope you enjoyed my post about Developing SMARTER Goals. Have you used the SMARTER system of goal development before? Is there something that really worked for you? I would love to hear about it! Thank you for reading!

I hope you enjoyed my post about Developing SMARTER Goals. Have you used the SMARTER system of goal development before? Is there something that really worked for you? I would love to hear about it! Thank you for reading!

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