Goals and dreams have important differences. Dreams are wishes and fantasies; for example, many of us long to be rich, famous, more successful, happier and healthier. Goals put your dreams on a deadline and require actionable steps toward achievement.
As with personal goals, you have a greater chance of achieving business goals when you work within a structure that sets you up for success. We’ll explore the SMART goals system and how you can apply this goal-achievement method to your business.
SMART is an acronym for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based. The SMART goals framework is a way to stay on target and achieve your goals more systematically. The process includes the following components:
SMART goals allow you to chart a course and stay organized when reaching personal or professional goals. You’re more likely to succeed because you’re less likely to get overwhelmed and abandon your goal entirely.
In a business setting particularly, SMART goals provide teams with clarity, structure and guidelines. Business goals can involve cost-cutting measures, marketing initiatives, sales increases and much more.
With SMART goals, you and your team know what success in each endeavor means and how to measure it within a project’s framework. Everyone knows the steps they must take to reach the goals. With ambiguity gone and a direction mapped, SMART goals set up your team for success.
Goal-setting and tracking tools and apps can help your team get on the same page and accomplish company objectives.
We’ll take a closer look at each SMART goal element and offer implementation examples you can apply to your business.
A specific goal clearly states what is to be achieved, by whom, where and when it is to be achieved (and sometimes why).
For example, let’s say you’re a wedding planner. Here’s how a non-SMART goal compares with a SMART goal in specificity:
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Measuring your goal means evaluating the end results and the milestones you’ll need to hit on the way. When you measure, you assess if you’re on the right track toward achieving your goal by asking these questions:
For example, let’s say your goal is to reach sales of $96,000 per year. To measure your goal, you could take the following actions:
Measuring draws your focus, helping you boost your odds of achieving your goal. One good way to measure is to have a dashboard arranged by month. For example, you could use a chart like this:
|Quotes over $1,000||5||5||5||5||5||5|
|Quotes to sales||45%||50%||55%||55%||55%||55%|
When you set goals, ensure they’re achievable. If you believe you can reach the goal, it’s more likely you’ll get there. It’s a mistake to set unreachable goals, because you’re setting yourself up for failure from the beginning. Additionally, don’t let others set your goals.
Setting attainable goals is also essential for team goal setting and can boost employee engagement. If you set unrealistic goals for your team, your team members won’t fully engage in the project. They need to be fully on board for the project to succeed. Everyone on the team should share in the goal setting so they own the goal and know it’s attainable.
Goals tend to fall into two categories: short-term and long-term. It’s essential to understand how both goal types fit your organizational or personal vision, mission and purpose.
It’s tempting to set a goal because it’s easy or sounds great, only to find out later that it has no long-term importance in what you want to achieve as an individual or an organization.
Setting a deadline attaches a time frame to your goals. A deadline can be an excellent motivator. For example, let’s say you want to run a marathon in a year. A time-based goal would look something like this:
Time-based goals help you avoid procrastination because your process offers incentives as you meet smaller achievements along the way.
It’s crucial to set a goal that matches your personal or professional vision. After you set the goal, focus on a process that makes your goal achievable. Here are some steps to follow:
If you are unable to set a SMART goal, it’s usually because you need to clarify exactly what you want to accomplish within a set time period. It’s inadvisable to skip the process of SMART goal setting and just “go for it.” You have a greater chance of success when you analyze your goals and match them to your vision.
To save time, prevent disappointment and avoid costly mistakes, perform the following exercise when implementing SMART goals.
What are your goals? Writing down your goals helps to clarify your thinking. Can you stretch yourself both personally and in your business by setting three goals in each area?
Once you’ve set a goal, find a way to develop a system to achieve that goal. For example, if you want to write a book in one year and you’re not an author, you may feel overwhelmed.
Instead, try writing 250 words per day. Don’t agonize over what you are writing – just write. At that rate, if you write five days per week (260 days per year), you will have 65,000 words in a year, or approximately a 250-page paperback.
Business goals work the same way. Set the goal, and then find a system to help you reach that goal. For example, when setting a sales goal, you may want to focus on consistently achieving 10 quotes per month with a 50% success rate.
Leah Zitter contributed to the writing and research in this article.