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The 5 Steps to Setting SMART Business Goals

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Every athlete and large corporation have clearly set and articulated goals to attain specific objectives. Yet, in the world of small business, many businesses lack a focused goal. “Get more business” is a typical reply of small business owners when asked of future plans. Any self-respecting CEO would be tossed out of a shareholder meeting for uttering a vague response.

Whether you have a 50-employee company or an empire of one, your business success depends on your ability to set and achieve goals. Put your business on the fast-track by applying the principles of SMART goal setting.

What are Smart Goals?

S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym for the 5 steps of specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based goals. It’s a simple tool used by businesses to go beyond the realm of fuzzy goal-setting into an actionable plan for results.

Specific: Great goals are well-defined and focused. “Obtain 2 new billion dollar corporate clients in the Boston property insurance market” is more meaningful to mobilize your team than “Get more business.” Ryan Blair, The Goals Guy eloquently states,"Focus creates a powerful force: goal power. The moment you focus on a goal, your goal becomes a magnet, pulling you and your resources toward it. The more focused your energies, the more power you generate."

Measurable: A goal without a measurable outcome is like a sports competition without a scoreboard or scorekeeper. Numbers are an essential part of business. Put concrete numbers in your goals to know if you’re on track. A goal white board posted in your office can help as a daily reminder to keep yourself and your employee focused on the targeted results you want to attain.

Attainable: Far too often, small businesses can set goals beyond reach. No one has ever built a billion dollar business overnight. Venture capitalists and angel investors discard countless business plans of companies with outlandish goals. Dream big and aim for the stars but keep one foot firmly based in reality. Check with your industry association to get a handle on realistic growth in your industry to set smart goals.

Relevant: Achievable business goals are based on the current conditions and realities of the business climate. You may desire to have your best year in business or increase revenue by 50%, but if a recession is looming and 3 new competitors opened in your market, then your goals aren’t relevant to the realities of the market.

Time-Based: Business goals and objectives just don’t get done when there's no time frame tied to the goal-setting process. Whether your business goal is to increase revenue by 20% or find 5 new clients, choose a time-frame to accomplish your goal.

Smart Goal Sample

So what does a smart goal look like? Based on the acronym, our example would state, ““Obtain 2 new billion dollar corporate clients in the Boston property insurance market by the end of this fiscal year through networking and marketing activities.”

Once your business goals are SMART, break down each goal into a specific set of tasks and activities to accomplish your goals. It’s important to periodically review your goals and make adjustments if necessary. Goal setting for your small business is an essential tool for success. Remember in the end to be SMART.

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