Are your enormous dreams for your new business and never-ending to-do list suffocating your ability to actually get the important things done? Do you want to set reasonable goals so you can focus? SMART goals may be the answer to your problems.
Starting a new business is an exciting time. There are a thousand things you want to achieve. But growing your business requires intentional and specific action. SMART goals help entrepreneurs turn dreams into action plans.
Here’s how you can get started with better goals today.
What Are SMART Goals?
SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time Based. A well-developed SMART goal is clear, concise and action-based on these fundamental criteria:
- Specific: There’s no point in setting vague goals. Make sure your goal has a real target outcome.
- Measurable: Measurable defines how you judge success or failure for your goal. Does an improved sales funnel convert 20% more than your old system? Make this numbers-based so your judgment of performance can be black and white.
- Attainable: Research shows that people are most motivated by goals that have a 50% chance of success. A goal that is too simple is a waste of time while one that is way too hard to reach makes you lose momentum. Choose a goal that stretches you.
- Relevant: Your goal should be focused on the outcome, not activities. Make sure it’s connected to business success in the context of your longer-term plans.
- Time-Based: Similar to the Attainable section, you want to pick a time frame that is just right. Give yourself enough time to do what you need to do, but make your timeframe short enough to still give you a sense of urgency. That extra motivation can make a big difference.
Using SMART goals gives you an ultra-simple project management framework to follow to help your business grow and reach the next level. As you think through each step, your goal will become more concrete—giving you the opportunity to dig in where it matters.
How To Keep SMART Goals Business Focused
Research has shown that using SMART goals save businesses time and simplifies the process of scaling. But to be effective, narrow your goals to where they have a real impact on business performance. Your SMART goals should be focused on Cash Flow, revenue generation or business improvement. This isn’t the place for operational or organizational details.
Running a business, especially a new company, has many moving pieces. You want to find the perfect CRM system, create a professional website and stay up-to-date with your accounting. But if you aren’t spending your most productive and focused hours on tasks that drop to your bottom line, you won’t grow.
I’ve met very successful business consultants who don’t have business cards. There are companies without logos and profitable websites using free designs. What matters is your product. Spend your best time on that, do it well, and you can succeed.
Set a SMART goal for your business that is based on growth and motivates you. Then as you sit down to schedule your week, commit as many hours as you need to your goal to meet it. Because your goal will be specific, the actual actions you need to take will be clear.
Example Of A SMART Business Goal
A good SMART goal has one main purpose and several small sub-goals that help you achieve your main goal. To help you set reasonable goals for your small business, here is a walk-through of how to turn a broad goal into a SMART goal.
Broad Goal: I want to find new clients for my business.
What new business doesn’t want more clients? But this goal can send you partway down many rabbit holes without committing to one path to find your ideal client. This is how the target might look in the SMART format.
- Specific: I want to find five new clients.
- Measurable: I will determine success with this goal to be five new clients while maintaining my current client base.
- Attainable: I will refine my business pitch and create a new 1-page teaser for potential clients. Then I will ask existing clients and contacts for referrals and attend local business networking events with a goal of setting 20 prospect meetings.
- Relevant: 5 new clients will allow me to improve cash flow.
- Time-Based: I will create my 1-page teaser in the next week. I will have held 20 prospect meetings in two months and convert five sessions into active clients within three months.
SMART Goal: In the next quarter I’m going to increase my active client list by five which will allow me to improve business cash flow. Within a week I’ll have created a new business teaser focused on the value I can provide to customers. To find these clients, I will have at least 20 prospect meetings in the next two months, with the aim of having at least two per week through new connections on LinkedIn, referrals and attending local networking events.
Create Goals That Focus And Excite You
SMART goal setting is entirely focused on achieving an outcome. And this can make the process hard for entrepreneurs inclined to be visionaries. Narrowing down to specific steps and numbers may make you feel controlled in a way you aren’t used to. But remember that action is just as important as vision if you want that vision to become a reality.
So create goals where the outcome excites you. Set a short enough time frame to keep you focused while giving yourself long enough to be successful. And then dive in.
The views and opinions expressed are those of the guest author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of MindShift.money.
image credit: Bigstock/alexskp
Chelsea Brennan is a former Wall Street financial analyst and investment manager who changed gears in her career to chase her passion of improving financial literacy and independence. She is now a personal finance writer and content marketer. Chelsea shares her obsession with budgeting, investing, and raising financially smart kids at MamaFishSaves.com.