In any business, setting goals is one of the most important steps in achieving success. Still, many business owners find this difficult to do. They either set goals that are not specific enough or they do not have a good system for measuring their progress along the way.
One popular technique for goal setting is known as SMART goals. This acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. If the goals you create aren't SMART, chances are you'll find it difficult to achieve them.
In this article, we will explore what SMART goals are and give you some solid examples of how you can use them in your business. Let's get to it!
SMART goals: a brief breakdown
First of all, what does it mean to set a SMART goal? Let’s walk through each letter in the acronym and explore what it means in terms of goal setting.
To set a specific goal, you need to be clear about what it is you want to achieve. This means having a precise target in mind and knowing exactly what you need to do to get there.
Specific goals are easier to measure and track. For example, instead of saying “I want to be more productive,” you could say “I want to increase my daily output by 50%.”
A measurable goal can be quantified in some way so that you can track your progress. This could be in terms of time, money, weight, or any other metric.
For example, “I want to lose 10 pounds” is a measurable goal, whereas “I want to be more healthy” is not.
Of course, you want to make sure that the goals you set are achievable. This doesn’t mean they have to be easy, but rather that they are realistic and within your reach.
For example, if your goal is to onboard 20 new clients this year, that may be achievable (depending on your size and scope). However, if your goal is to make seven figures in the first year of operation, that may not be so achievable.
Make sure that your goals are relevant to your business and what you want to achieve.
For example, if you would like to increase your online presence as a company, a relevant goal might be to increase website traffic by 25%.
When you set a goal, make sure to attach a time frame to it. This will help keep you accountable and ensure that you are making progress.
For example, if your goal is to increase website traffic by 25%, give yourself a deadline of two months to achieve this so that it remains a priority.
Examples of SMART goals
Now that we’re clear on what makes a SMART goal, let’s run through some corporate-relevant examples you might be able to implement in your own business.
If one of your goals is to increase your profits as a company, a SMART goal for you might look like this:
“We will increase our profits by 25% in the next fiscal year by dedicating 10 hours per week to improving our sales process, reducing costs, and increasing customer retention rates.”
- Specific – It states how much profit will be increased.
- Measurable – You can track progress by looking at your profits over time.
- Attainable – You can improve your sales process, reduce costs and increase customer retention rates by dedicating 10 hours per week.
- Relevant – These factors all impact profits.
- Time-bound – There is a specific end goal of one year.
Culture and morale-related goals
Perhaps you want to improve employee satisfaction and company morale in your business. In that case, a goal for you might look like this:
"By the end of this fiscal year, we will have increased employee satisfaction by 10% as measured through our annual survey by implementing new feedback systems and spending 3 hours per week connecting as a team."
This goal is:
- Specific – States what you want to achieve and how you will achieve it.
- Measurable – Gives a method of measuring through surveys.
- Achievable – Opts for 10% rather than a drastic number like 50%.
- Relevant – States strategies that are relevant to satisfaction and morale, like team bonding and feedback.
- Time-bound – Provides a clear timeline of one year.
One of the ways to get satisfied employees is by conducting one on one meetings on a regular basis.
If your current priority is creating a solid corporate social responsibility strategy, a goal for you might look like this:
"We will create a recycling program to be implemented in the next 3 months, and to do this, a CSR team will dedicate 5 hours per week to developing the program."
This goal is:
- Specific – It has a particular program in mind that will be created, and a timeline for doing so.
- Measurable – There is a way to track whether or not the goal was accomplished (was the recycling program implemented in 3 months?).
- Achievable – 5 hours per week seems like a manageable amount of time for developing a recycling program.
- Relevant – Creating a recycling program is relevant to a CSR strategy.
- Time-based – There is a deadline for completing the goal.
More SMART goals examples
Now that you’ve (hopefully) got a clearer idea of the components of a SMART goal, let’s move on to a few more examples you can use and rework to suit your own goals. Can you pick out the SMART elements of each?
Profit, growth, and retention
- “By planning for 2 hours per week for the next five weeks, we will come up with a plan to increase our profits. After that, we will implement the plan to increase our profits by 25% in the next fiscal year.”
- “For every new client we onboard, we will hire a new team member until our team grows by 100%.”
- “This month, we will spend 4 hours per week reworking our employee onboarding process. We will then implement the new process in order to improve our retention rates by 35% in 2022.”
- “We will launch our new website in three months’ time, completing one element of the website each week until its launch date.”
Employee satisfaction, promotion, and succession planning
- “After 25% of our employees said they were dissatisfied with the level of support they receive, our goal for the new fiscal year is to decrease this statistic to 10%. We will achieve this by implementing a partner system over the next two months, so that every employee has a support person.”
- “We will promote Jason to floor manager after three more months in his current position. In that time, we will give him one specialized training session per week to prepare him for the role.”
- “In the next year, we will create a succession plan for every major role within our company. To achieve this, we will spend 3 hours per week for the next two weeks creating a thorough plan with a timeline for each position.”
Sustainability and resource management
- “Over the next six months, we will decrease our rubbish load by 20% through setting out recycle and compost bins. Each bin will have a tally of how many times it is filled and emptied into the garbage disposal.”
- “We will transition to recycled paper for our in-office documents over the next month by separating the paper we use for outgoing documents and the paper we use for internal prints. In the next five days, we will order our first load of recycled paper.”
- “Starting next week, we will begin offering each employee one day per week of working from home in order to cut down on our car emissions.”
The recipe for SMART goals
If the above smart goal examples aren’t particularly relevant to your company, you can always create your own unique SMART goal by answering each of the questions below:
- What goal do you have in mind?
- What specifically do you want to accomplish, and who needs to be included or informed?
- Why are you setting this goal? What’s the purpose?
- When would you like to have achieved this goal?
- How can you measure your progress? What will indicate your success?
- Is this goal something you can conceivably achieve with the time, resources, and support you have available to you?
- What’s your reason for setting this goal, and how does it align with the goals and values of your company?
- Do you have a realistic deadline for this goal?
Once you have brainstormed the answers to these questions, you will have everything you need to weave together the perfect SMART goal – specific, reliable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound!
Setting goals can be a daunting challenge, but the outcomes can be very rewarding. Achieving goals can give your company the boost it needs to reach new heights.
However, make sure that your goals are SMART, so you can be sure to achieve them. We hope the above examples have equipped you with plenty of ideas to do just that!