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5 Tips for Setting Smart Goals in Your Business Plan

ByElaine Slatter,
business.com writer
|
Aug 26, 2015
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> Business Basics
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When setting goals, if we choose SMART goals, they are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time based.

This means the goals are very clear and easily understood.

Both in our personal lives and business career, it is important to have goals, because without goals, we are not in charge. This often means that other people will set goals for us, or worse, we will drift aimlessly along. Follow our 5 tips for setting SMART goals. Isn’t setting SMART goals a smart idea?

1. Specific

A specific goal clearly states what is to be achieved, by whom, where and when it is to be achieved and sometimes why.

Non-SMART goal: Market my business in Toronto

SMART goal: Start a monthly networking group for women on event planning in Toronto with a monthly attendance goal of 20 women, with 2 per month signed up for my “How to plan your wedding without stress workshop”.(Wedding Planner)

2. Measurable

Measuring the goal is applicable both to the end results and the milestones along the way. The measurement helps to assess if you are on the right track to achieving your goal. It answers the questions, how much, how often, how many?

For example, if your goal is to reach sales of $96,000/year, your milestones could be sales of $8,000/month. By having a process to focus on achieving $8,000/month, it will add up to $96,000/year. The goal of $8,000/month is easier to attain, because there could be multiple ways of getting to this goal and it is less stressful to think in smaller amounts.

What get measured get done. Therefore if you measure you will focus to achieve the goal. One good way to measure is to have a dashboard measurement by month. For example:

Jan. Feb. Mar. April May June 6 month Total

Sales 6,500 7,500 9,000 8,500 8,500 8,000 48,000

Quotes over $1,000 5 5 5 5 5 5

Quotes to Sales 45% 50% 55% 55% 55% 55%

3. Attainable

When setting your goals, ensure that they are achievable. If you believe yourself that you can reach the goal, it is more likely you will be to get there. It is a mistake to put out goals that are unreachable , because you are setting yourself up for failure from the very beginning. Don’t let others set your goals.

This is also true with teams. If the goals that are being set are unrealistic, you won’t get the buy-in from the people you are setting the goals for. With teams, you want them to share in their goal setting so that they contribute to the attainability and own the goal. You can tie a performance incentive to the goal, so that your team knows you are serious about their goals and want them to stretch themselves to reach the target.

4. Relevant

When setting goals they fall into long and short term. Understanding how these fit into your organizational or personal vision, mission and purpose is important.

It is tempting to set a goal because it is either easy or sounds great, only to find out later that it has no long term importance to what you want to achieve as an individual or an organization.

5. Time based

This ensures that you put a time-frame to your goals. This can be a great motivator and shouldn’t be seen as a detractor. If for example, you want to run a marathon in one year, then this long term goal can be achieved by concentrating on the system that will get you to run the marathon in one year. This could be going to the Running Room 2x week, for 3 months, 3x week for 6 months, working up to a ½ marathon at 6 months etc. Gradually you will have achieved these short term time based goals which all add up to running the marathon in one year.

This can also help you avoid procrastination because you know you will reach your goal if you stick to your process.

“Failing to plan is planning to fail”

If you find yourself unable to set a SMART goal, it is usually because that your future plans are not clear enough and you need to do more work to clarify exactly where you want to go within a set time period. Don’t try to skip the process of SMART goal setting and just “go for it”, without analyzing your goals and match them to your vision.

Doing this exercise carefully at the beginning will save you lots of time and disappointment at a later stage and could help you avoid making costly mistakes.

What are your goals? Writing them down, helps clarify your thinking. Can you stretch yourself both personally and in your business by setting three goals in each area?

Personal Goals

Goal 1

Goal 2

Goal 3

Business/Career Goals

Goal 1

Goal 2

Goal 3

A Systems Focus Helps You Reach Your Goals

Once you have set a goal, find a way to develop a system to achieve your goal. For example, if you want to write a book in one year and you are not an author, that goal might be overwhelming. Instead, why not try writing 250 words per day. Don’t agonize over what you are writing, just write. At that rate if you write 5 days per week (240 days/year) you will have 60,000 words in a year, which is approximately a 200 page paperback in 1.5 spacing.

The same happens for the entrepreneur. Set the goal, and then find a system to help you reach that goal. Your focus will be on the system and not the goal, but in the end you will reach the goal. In the case of the sales goal, all it may take is consistently achieving 10 quotes per month with a 50% success rate.

Do you have a system to help you reach your goals? Tell us about how you reach your milestones.

Elaine Slatter
Elaine Slatter
See Elaine Slatter's Profile
I am passionate about teaming up with entrepreneurs to achieve their goals. With over 30 years of experience in corporate management, small business ownership and marketing, I understand the unique challenges facing business people today. I can help small businesses get started with business plans, strategy, branding, web design and social media integration. As author of the book "Fabulous Fempreneurship", a business startup guide for women, I have gathered expert advice to help women launch their own businesses. http://fabfempreneurship.com/fabulous-fempreneurship-book/ I graduated from McMaster University in Hamilton, Sheridan College, Oakville and Bournemouth College (UK) with business and marketing as specialties. After graduating, I have had varied management experience with different corporations in the GTA, with the last being the General Manager of the Canadian division of a US-based multinational corporation. In this role, I used my business coaching expertise to establish a Canadian management team as the leading group within the company. I have additionally been a small business owner of a fast food restaurant, which gave me unique insights into the challenges small businesses face.
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