It’s hard to reach your destination if you don’t know where you’re going. In the same way, it’s impossible to grow your business without goals. But even though you understand the importance of setting business goals, actually establishing effective, meaningful goals isn’t always easy. For example, you may know your desired end result, but not necessarily understand what the process will look like along the way.
That’s where SMART goals can help. Research shows that the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound) strategy of setting goals can help save time and simplify the process—and that can increase your odds of achieving them. We’ll explore how they work and how business owners like you can use them to set goals for your company.
Saying that you want to increase revenue and decrease costs isn’t enough to get there. Every business owner wants that. To help ensure your success, you have to clearly define your goals and how you plan to achieve them. For example, let’s say you’d like to add new clients to your roster this year. You’ll want to specify how many and outline how you plan to do it, such as through referrals from current clients, email marketing, etc.
When you’re specific about what you want to achieve, it makes your goals easier to measure. The key question: How will you know when this goal has been achieved? Answer that question in as detailed a way as possible. And don’t just plan on measuring at the end of the year. Take time for monthly and/or quarterly check-ins to examine your progress. (See “Time-bound” below.)
It’s great to have big goals, but they can be intimidating—especially if they veer into unrealistic territory. That’s why it’s important to analyze your goals to determine if you can reasonably accomplish them in the time frame you set. One way to make them easier to achieve is by breaking them into smaller, more realistic steps.
This focuses on ensuring that the time and effort of you and your employees is well spent. Ask yourself: Do your goals make sense based on your business model and what your company is designed to do? Your goals may be worthy of achieving, but your business model may not support them. This can be difficult to get past, especially if you’re emotionally invested in a particular goal, but it’s a necessary step. Taking time to ensure your goals make sense within your framework will be more rewarding (and save you needless effort) in the end.
Just as work deadlines are necessary to accomplish required tasks, goals need deadlines too. Deadlines create urgency and help you stay focused on achieving your goals. So even if you know some goals will always be goals, you still need to put time caps on them in order to measure your progress and make adjustments as needed to meet them.
If you need more help setting SMART goals—or with other financial aspects of your business—we’re always here to help.
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
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