Get SMART: How to Set Achievable Goals for a Business

Business.com / Managing / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

How does a company set a goal that it can achieve? Use the SMART acronym to achieve your goals and make your own luck.

Business growth does not happen in a vacuum, and successful corporations don't become successful because they wait around for their customers to find them.

They set goals and work to achieve them, ensuring that they create steady improvement for themselves and their shareholders.

But setting a goal is trickier than it sounds. A business could declare that it wants to get fifty percent of its market share, or increase its year over year sales by one hundred percent, but if it doesn't have a clear vision of how to achieve that goal, it's unlikely to make much progress. So how does a company set a goal that it can achieve?

When you're deciding what will be measured, make sure you decide who is going to measure it, and how it will happen. To drive company development, goals need to be followed up on.

Companies need goals to drive clear and concise development strategies. Whenever you're setting goals, plan in not just what the goal is, but how it will be achieved and who will be responsible for achieving it, and you're halfway to making it happen.

Related Article: Get in the Game: 3 Easy Methods for Setting Goals for Your Business

Use the SMART Acronym

In both business how-to and self-help spheres, the concept of SMART goals is very useful. SMART goals are Specific, Measured, Achievable, Realistic, Timed. But what does that mean?

  • Specific: Goals have clearly defined objectives. When an entrepreneur says they want to increase sales, it's important to ask: in what division? Which market? By how much?
  • Measured: Goals can be measured. A company might want to improve company culture, but to make that into a goal, they would need to devise a way to measure employee satisfaction. Employee retention, surveys, and referrals all might be methods of measuring a goal of employee satisfaction.
  • Achievable: When you would need unlimited time, funds, and staffing to make something happen, that's not a goal, that's a pipe dream. It's important to have dreams for an entrepreneur to have dreams for their company, but goals should be something that can happen now. We'll talk more about this in a minute.
  • Realistic: Is this what the company wants to focus on? Is it in line with the company mission? Is it something employees will agree with and support?
  • Timed: Good goals have a time limit. By a set time period, something will have happened. Without a time limit, your goal is just an inspirational quote.                      

Focusing in on achievable; how do you determine an achievable metric for your goal?

Related Article:6 Traits of Highly Successful Serial Entrepreneurs

Look at History and Build From There

Perhaps you want to increase website traffic for your company. First, you need to know what your current website traffic is. If this information is easily accessible, great. If it's not, then your first goal becomes setting up a way to track website visitors for your company.

 Assuming you have access to historical data that relates to your goal, take a close look at it and search for trends. Are you seeing a steady increase of visitors to your website? Are the numbers pretty flat? Are they declining?

Once you know what trends are currently working on your business, you can decide what you want to do with those trends. If you're seeing steady growth, you might want to maintain that growth, or push the needle higher. If you're seeing no change, you might want to push new improved content strategies to start bringing in new viewers. And if you're losing hits, your first goal is to figure out why and decide what to do to stop the outflow.

Emphasize Personal Bests

As a company, you might feel like you need to try and outdo the competition. Your closest competitor gets 500,000 hits a month, so you need 600,000. Don't give in to this way of thinking.

Instead, look at the best you've ever done. This concept is borrowed from sports training. As an athlete, trying to beat someone else's goal is a recipe for injury and setbacks. Instead, athletes are encouraged to hit training trying to outdo their own best. If they did 55 push-ups yesterday, see if they can either do 56 today or improve their form to make the 55 more efficient and effective.

Related Article: It's Not Personal, It's Business: When and How to Fire an Employee

Find the month when you had the best website performance and analyze what was different about that month from all the others. Did you have more content? Better content? Better social media shares? Use this to guide you towards a strategy to push the envelope on your previous best.    

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