Setting goals or objectives is crucial for your startup business’ growth. Whether your business goals are to provide motivation to your staff, to boost efficiency of internal systems or to set a direction for your company to take, your goals should all be centred around the desirable outcome of making a profit. One really useful goal setting model that is commonly used across the business industry is SMART goal setting (sometimes referred to as SMART targets, or SMART objectives). To help you out, we’ve put together some advice on what SMART goals are and how to set them in a way that helps your startup.
What Are SMART Goals?
Easy to remember and to implement, SMART is a mnemonic acronym that stands for: Specific, Measureable, Achievable/Attainable, Realistic and Time-based/Timebound.
From their creation in the 1980s to now, SMART goals have become one of the most popular methods for standardising targets by setting them against the 5 words introduced above. Their popularity can be put down to that they work for every kind of goal, not just business goals (so, if you have any personal goals outside of work, you could even apply SMART to them too!).
So, How Do I Make Sure My Goals Are SMART?
Let’s go step by step through each SMART term to see how we can turn regular business goals into SMART goals!
By being specific about what you want to achieve for your startup and why you want it, you’re more likely to get a fantastic result because you’ve considered all the different elements involved in reaching your goal. To make sure your goals are specific, you’ll need to ask yourself the 5 Ws:
- What do I want to achieve?
- Why do I want to achieve it?
- Who is involved in achieving it?
- Where will this be achieved?
- Which requirements or problems do I need to meet/conquer to achieve it?
So, instead of having this as your goal:
I want my café to be the best in town.
You’d use your responses to the 5 Ws to make it more specific, like this:
To increase my business’ profits, I want to grow the number of customers visiting my cafe.
How do you know if you’ve met your business goal if you aren’t measuring your success? Make sure you know how you want to achieve your goal and how you’re going to track your progress along the way.
If we were to make our example SMART goal measurable, it would look something like this:
To increase my business’ profits, I want to grow the number of customers visiting my café by 15%.
Is it possible to achieve your goal? If so, how? Here’s where you need to start thinking beyond just ‘well, it’d be nice to have x’ and actually take a constructive step forward. An easier way to think about this is to finish of the sentence ‘I’ll achieve this by…’.
Here’s what our SMART goal example looks like now we’ve added how we’re going to work towards it:
To increase my business’ profits, I want to grow the number of customers visiting my café by 15%. I’ll achieve this by organising a Flyer drop in the surrounding areas and creating a social media account for my business.
Being successful is really hard work, and while you should always set your goals high, it should be realistic that you’ll achieve them. Otherwise, it could have very negative effects on staff morale. Our initial example, ‘I want my café to be the best in town’ is arguably unrealistic. Unless you’re honest about what you could realistically achieve, you’ll likely end up disappointed – and that’s not what goals should be about.
Our new SMART goal example is more realistic than the original one we set. And what’s even better is that by achieving this SMART goal we’re a step closer to being the best café in town!
Ever heard the phrase ‘time is money’? Deadlines are the perfect way to motivate both yourself and your team to achieve your startup’s goal. Again, you’ll have to be realistic about your deadlines and make sure they’re a little flexible – otherwise they’ll have the adverse effect of stressing everybody out! Quick tip: keep track of your deadlines with a custom branded Calendar.
How do you make your SMART goal time-based? Easy! Just say when you’d like to achieve it by:
To increase my business’ profits by the end of Q3, I want to grow the number of customers visiting my café by 15%. I’ll achieve this by organising a Flyer drop in the surrounding areas and creating a social media account for my business.
While setting SMART goals is a fantastic method for making sure you achieve exactly what you want with your startup business, it’s important to remember to keep your goals realistic. (Otherwise, your targets might end up causing more harm than good!) Now you’ve got all the knowledge you need to start creating SMART targets for yourself, your team and your business, there’s nothing stopping you from actively working towards your business goals. Just make sure that you stay positive and focus on the small, everyday successes along the way!