What is your business without goals? It’s a wishing well, really—where dreams of success go to die. That might sound harsh, but it is the reality of goals that are either set incorrectly or not carried out.

Why is it so important to have goals?

Goals require action. They provide you with a sense of motivation, direction, and focus. They also help clarify what is important to focus on in your business. Without them you’ll find that you’re simply rushing around trying to do everything but achieving nothing. You need to think ahead, and start planning your goals out in advance so that you can be as productive as possible

Goals require action. They provide you with a sense of motivation, direction, and focus.

Take some advice from Diana Ross:

“Instead of looking at the past, I put myself ahead twenty years and try to look at what I need to do now in order to get there then.”

Diana Ross

Contrary to the above quote, you don’t HAVE to be looking twenty years ahead, but you should be thinking at least six months ahead. Planning is everything, and if you’re not planning, you’re just reacting – which is no way to run a business.

Planning is everything, and if you’re not #planning, you’re just reacting – which is no way to run a #business. #entrepreneurlife Click To Tweet

So what can you do to support the correct setting and achievement of goals for your start-up, SME, or multi-generational corporation? You can establish a SMART Goals Plan for your business. SMART goals are goals that follow a very specific set of guidelines, being specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based.

The first time you write out a SMART goal, it may seem a little tricky. It can take some practice to hit each of these points every time, but soon you’ll be applying them to your goals without thought. 

This may seem like a lot of effort, but if you’re not making detailed plans, you’re not going to see the results you want. 

Below I’ve broken down everything you need to know to get started on your SMART goals right now! 

A How-To Guide for Setting S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Every well-set and achievable goal has five qualities. If your current goals don’t reflect these qualities, you won’t be able to measure your success. I’ve broken this down by each quality, with a list of questions for each that will help you get the creative juices flowing!

Specific

Focus is a key part of any goal. Think in terms of precise numbers and explicitly described actions. How many clients will you attain? How much more profit will you earn? Measuring these things based on a particular amount of time…and other precise points…will keep you and your staff concentrated on the desired outcome. Being specific will also aid in tracking your progress, so you’ll know if you’re on-track for achieving your goal.

Ask yourself the five W’s when specifying your goals: 

1. Who is involved?
2. What am I trying to accomplish?
3. Where is it located?
4. Why is it important?
5. Which resources or limits do I need?

Measurable

You need to have a method in place for measuring your progress whilst on the road to achieving your goal. Without a way to measure your goals, you’ll never have the motivation in which to complete them. This will negatively impact your confidence and drive to succeed. Establish a system with achievable milestones, and with a method in place for tracking progress. Stay informed and check progress daily, if possible. Be honest about your measurements and be willing to adjust if necessary, in order to avoid a mad dash at the end.

Without a way to measure your #goals, you’ll never have the motivation in which to complete them. This will negatively impact your confidence and drive to #succeed. #fempire #womeninbusiness Click To Tweet

Ask yourself these four questions when measuring your goals:

1. How much?
2. How many?
3. What will indicate my progress?
4. How do I know if I’ve achieved my goal?

Attainable

Think big, but always remember to set goals that are within your reach. If you shoot too high your first time around, you and your staff may feel frustrated at the height of the seemingly unattainable goal – which could affect the performance of future goals. Ask yourself, “Is this within the realm of possibility?” If the answer is a solid YES, then forge ahead. If the answer is NO, then draw the reins in a little bit, in order to set yourself up for the type of success that will hatch future, bigger goals.

Think big, but always remember to set goals that are within your reach.

Ask yourself these three questions to determine whether your goal is attainable:

1.Do I have the resources to achieve this goal?
2. How can I accomplish this goal?
3. Have others successfully completed this goal before?

Relevant

What is the current state of your market? Will its climate be conducive to the goal you wish to achieve? Study your industry, current trends, and economic forecasts and then fashion your goal with your findings in mind. What you learn could leave room to set a loftier goal; or, it could tell you to back off a bit. No matter your findings, adjust accordingly, for success.

Is your answer to the following questions yes? If so, your goal is relevant.

1. Is this goal realistic and within reach?
2. Is now the right time?
3. Does it match my other efforts/needs?

Time-Based

When you set a goal for yourself, you need to set a timeframe. If you don’t set a realistic timeframe, you won’t be motivated to complete it. That is why you always need to specify a timeframe in which your goal will be achieved. Without deadlines, many projects never get finished. Be realistic, but push yourself a bit, too. Not only will you realise results far sooner than you would without an end-date, you will greatly increase your chances of goal success.

Ask yourself these questions and create a timeframe for your goals:

1. What can I do today?
2. Where do I need to be in six months?
3. When do I want to complete this goal? 

You Need Short-term Goals AND Long-term Goals

Every long-term goal should be supported by a number of short-term goals, all of which include the S.M.A.R.T. principles outlined above. This will help to maintain focus, forward progress…and everyone will feel good and motivated with the achievement of milestones along the way.

Now for a few examples of S.M.A.R.T. Goals:

  • Add 50 (measureable) new global customers (specific) to our client list in 6 months’ time (time-based & attainable), through the implementation of a social media marketing campaign and online content creation and marketing (relevant).
  • Increase net profits by 4 percent (measurable) by the close of the fiscal year (time-based), by adding 2 new salespeople (relevant) – 1 in the north and 1 in the east (specific & attainable).
  • Move our customer satisfaction rating from 90 percent to 95 percent (measurable) in 3 months (time-based) with the hiring of a team-building expert, as well as a customer-service specialist (specific & attainable), to train our 4 customer service representatives (relevant).

As you can see from the examples above, each one of these goals is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based. You too, can set goals like this, and achieve them.

To make it even simpler to create your own SMART goals, here’s a template to get you started! 

My goal is to [quantifiable objective] by [timeframe]. [Key players or teams] will accomplish this goal by [what steps you’ll take to achieve the goal]. Accomplishing this goal will [result or benefit].

When you’re passionate about what you do, you’ll find success comes much easier. But you still need to be smart about setting goals. Know where you want to go, and get there. 

Know where you want to go, and get there. 

“You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you.”

Maya Angelou

Have you written your S.M.A.R.T goals out yet? Tell us about them in the comments below! xox