How to Create Meaningful SMART Goals

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Working hard but not seeing any results? Maybe the problem is not your work but how you set goals.

Don’t worry, though, it’s an easy problem to solve.

This guide will walk you through how to set SMART goals for your business. Let’s dive into how to use the SMART goal framework.

What are SMART goals?

SMART is a framework you can use to set meaningful business and personal targets. The SMART acronym stands for; Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

The first known use of the term was in the 1981 issue of Management Review by George T. Doran. Many businesses use this approach to set company targets. Here is an example of a SMART goal for a blogger:

  • Write one guest post week for the next 12 months

The goal is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. At the end of 12 months, it’s easy to look back and see if you achieved the goal. Let’s look at each of those SMART criteria in turn.

1. Specific

The first step for any goal setting is to define what you want to achieve. You should ask yourself:

  • What do you want to accomplish?
  • Who will be involved in achieving the goal?
  • Where will you achieve the goal?

Here’s an example of a specific SMART goal.

If you are running a small business, your aim could be to grow the company.  A specific goal might be to secure 10 number of clients per quarter.

To make the goal actionable, you should assign responsibility to a person, and define how to achieve the goal. For example, you might assign responsibility to the sales team. The channel for customer acquisition could be cold outreach. Put that all together and you have a SMART goal.

The sales team should secure 10 new clients per quarter through cold outreach.

Specific goals help you stay focused. You know what you need to achieve.

2. Measurable

SMART goals should be measurable. A measurable target is something that you can quantify (a fancy way of saying assign a number to the goal). Below are two examples of goals you might use for a marketing campaign. One is a measurable goal, and the other isn’t:

  • Increase the number of website visitors in the next quarter
  • Increase the number of website visitors by 5,000 in the next quarter

The first goal is general, the second is measurable. 

Quantifying your goals help you in two ways. One, it helps you track progress. You know if you’ve achieved the goal, or missed your target.

The second benefit of measurable SMART goals is that you can keep track of your progress. You can see if you need to put more effort into achieving the goal, if you’re on track, or if you need to revise your strategy. You can review your goals on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis.

The measurable goals will be your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

3. Achievable

You want to have attainable goals. There is no harm in dreaming big. Indeed, you goals should be ambitious. However, you need to set achievable goals.

When setting meaningful goals, consider the following:

  • Previous results
  • Financial capabilities
  • Current resources
  • Market conditions

Use the information you have available to set achievable goals for your company.

For example, if you secured five clients last year, an ambitious goal might be to secure seven clients this year. That target sounds difficult to achieve, but it’s still realistic.

Don’t set a goal that is too easy to achieve or an unrealistic goal.

Unrealistic goals only set you up for disappointment. They can impact the morale of your team. On the other hand, easy goals lack a sense of urgency. They are a poor indicator of progress.

Attainable goals should be within your reach. SMART goal setting will help you stay motivated and work hard.

4. Relevant

Another aspect of a SMART goal is to set targets that align with your larger strategy. The goal should consider a few questions like:

  • Is this the right thing to focus on at the moment?
  • Does this align with everything else I am doing?

For example, consider you run an eCommerce website. Your business is growing fast, but has limited human resources. Your best customer acquisition channels are SEO and email marketing.

Someone in your team thinks it would be a good idea to start offering consulting services.

There’s nothing wrong with offering consulting services. However, if you have limited capacity, it makes more sense to focus your efforts on email marketing and SEO. When you have more capacity, you can test consulting services. 

Relevant goals will ensure your business is on the right track to grow fast. Your goals must align with your ultimate goal. That might be your for your firm or you might have personal goals. 

5. Time-bound

A SMART goal needs a definite timeframe and a clear deadline. For example, if your goal is to add ten clients, you need to specify a time period. For example, you might say; add ten new clients in the next 60 days.

A timeframe helps you streamline your efforts and track your progress. It helps you focus on the long-term goal. Having a clear idea of the timeframe will also help you create your business development strategy.

Having a vague sense of the timeframe creates confusion and latency. However, when you know that a task needs to be completed within a specific time, it helps drive consistent progress. 

It also helps you prioritize tasks as stay on track. Often, goals may undergo some change. In such a case, a time frame helps you take care of the most crucial targets to the goal. 

In the absence of a schedule, you may end up devoting time to tasks as they come. A time-bound goal helps your team stay on track. 

Three tips for imposing a SMART goal

We’ve covered a de you must also know how to use the SMART framework. Here are three tips to help you achieve your targets.

1. Note down your goals

If you’re going to use SMART objectives, you need to note down your goals and make sure everyone is aware of the targets. For personal goals, that’s straightforward. You could note down your targets in a diary or a whiteboard – the most important thing is you have access to this information.

If you’re working as a manager, or have a senior position in a company, you need to ensure your colleagues have access to the information. For example, if you have set departmental objectives, you need to ensure everyone in the department is aware of the targets.

Noting down the goals helps you keep track of your targets.

2. Celebrate important milestones

You should celebrate your achievements. For example, hitting a big revenue target is a good excuse for a party.

Celebrating your goals keeps you motivated and company morale high. You can incentivize staff and department heads to hit goals by providing professional or financial incentives. Many companies, use KPI’s to assess how much of a bonus employees receive.

No matter how big or small the win, ensure that you celebrate the success. 

3. Regularly check-in 

Reviewing your goals is a great way to evaluate performance. Set aside time to undertake personal or professional reviews. For example, you might do quarterly or monthly reviews.

Regular reviews will help you assess progress and identify successes and problems. If things are going well, that’s great. When you identify a problem, try to identify the cause. It might be the goal is impossible to achieve, or you need to change your approach.

In Closing 

This guide walked you through how to use the SMART formula to set personal and professional goals. When creating SMART goals, ensure they are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. 

Setting performance goals for yourself or your business is a good idea. With clear targets, you know what you need to achieve. You can then work towards those achievable targets.

About the author

Nico

I'm a SaaS consultant with a passion for travel. I help companies scale their link building so they can dominate the SERPs for their chosen keywords. I work primarily with scale-ups and enterprise businesses.

By Nico