SMART goal setting refers to a planning process that measures five individual criteria in order to evaluate a goal and determine its viability. It's a defined process that takes your goal from the general idea stage and puts it into action.
There are a number of different words that have been used with the SMART acronym, but one of the breakdowns that fits business goal setting closely is described below.
S = Specific
When you are just getting started with goal setting, you may only have a vague idea of what you hope to accomplish. As you get further along in the process, however, you will need to be as specific as possible about your goal.
A specific goal should clearly state what you want to accomplish, why it is an important goal, and how you intend to accomplish the goal.
M = Measurable
You need to be able to determine, without question, whether or not you are successful in achieving your goal. In order to do this, you need to create a way to measure your progress and your end result.
A measurable goal should include a plan with targets and milestones that you can use to make sure you're moving in the right direction during the process and should clearly tell you when you've completed the process.
A = Attainable
While business goals may often pull you out of your comfort zone and challenge you, if the goal and the parameters you have created are not realistic, you may be setting yourself up for failure.
An attainable goal should be realistic and include a plan that breaks your overall goal down into smaller, manageable action steps that use the time and resources available to you within the timeline you've set.
R = Relevant
The relevancy of a business goal will often determine the likelihood of achieving it. Goals that do not mesh with all of the other factors that directly and indirectly impact your business are often unachievable.
Ultimately, a relevant goal should make sense when measured against your business model, mission statement, market, client base and industry.
T = Time-Based
Business goals cannot be open-ended; every goal should be limited by a period of time. The timeline may vary by weeks, months or years depending on your goal, but a defined timeline is vital in order for you to commit to the goal. Having a deadline can also create an urgency that will motivate you.
To determine if your goal is time-based, it should include a defined period of time as well as a specific timeline for each step of the process.
The worksheet available for download here will help you measure your business goals against the SMART criteria in order to determine if your goals are achievable and worthy of your time. Review these SMART goal examples to see if you're on the right track with your goals.