Creating goals for your small business helps you plan for growth. But setting goals and achieving them are two different things. 

The SMART goals method can help you establish goals that lead to results. But what are SMART goals, and how can you use them? We’ve got the answers. 

This guide covers SMART goals for business, including:

  • What are SMART goals?
  • Why are SMART goals important? 
  • How can you set SMART goals?

See also: How to achieve your business goals.

What are SMART goals?

The SMART goals method allows you to set strong goals that increase the likelihood of attainment. This tactic lets you develop a plan and create detailed criteria that keep you on track. 

The term SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Achievable, Measurable, Realistic, and Time-based. Let’s cover what each letter means.  

Specific 

The goal you want to achieve must be specific, so you can create a plan to complete it. Rather than saying you want to improve something for your business, decide how much you want to improve it. 

To develop the details of your goals, think about the following:

  • Why – why do you want to achieve this specific goal? How will it help?
  • Who – who do you need help from to get it done?
  • Where – where do you need to go to make it happen?
  • What – what do you need to accomplish these goals?

Measurable

SMART goals require a clear metric to mark success. Regularly checking with this metric can help you track progress. 

Say you want to increase your website traffic by 10%. In this case, you can use website analytics to measure progress. 

Achievable

When you set these goals, make sure they’re realistic for your small business. Setting objectives within your reach will help you stay focused and not give up

Aiming for a 15% bump in leads over six months is far more realistic than hoping for an 80% increase in one month. 

See also: The importance of short, medium, and long-term goals.

Relevant

Goals are much more useful when they’re relevant to your business. Base these targets on what could benefit you in the long run. 

If you don’t have an online shop for your business, you wouldn’t want to focus your goals on online sales.  

Time-based

Goals without a deadline are much less likely to happen. So make sure you give yourself a timeline for achieving your SMART goals, such as a month, quarter, or year. Then, break up the steps over that time

Why are SMART goals important? 

Creating SMART goals helps you form detailed objectives for your business. It’s essential to have these goals to guide you as you start or grow your operations. 

Plus, the SMART method lets you track your progress more efficiently. You’ll break down what you need to do and increase your likelihood of success. 

In fact, a study suggested that 76% of people achieved their goals if they wrote down the details.  

These goals increase productivity and time management and help you organise your objectives to accomplish the tasks. They also give you clear expectations and hold you accountable for what you wish to achieve. 

How can you set SMART goals for your business?

Now that you know what SMART goals are, you may want to create some for yourself. Let’s go over tips for building strong and promising goals. 

Determine business goals 

Start by listing a few goals related to your business sales, finances, marketing, or personal development. Writing out the details of these goals will make them easier to follow.

Here are a few questions to develop your ideas: 

  • What does your business need?
  • How will the results of this goal help your business?
  • What do you need to achieve it?
  • What’s a realistic timeline for achieving it? 
  • What are some potential challenges to the goal?
  • How might you overcome these challenges?

Tip! Don’t form too many goals for yourself at once. Consider coming up with three main goals at a time. 

Set your metrics 

Next, think about how you’ll track the progress of your goals and measure their success. Depending on your goal, you might use a few types of tools: 

Establish a realistic timeline 

Think about how long your goals might take to achieve. Too short a timeline could make the goal stressful and unrealistic, but too long a timeline may decrease your drive to achieve the objective.

As you set your goal’s deadline, break up each step of your plan over that time. With mini-deadlines, you can sense the goal’s progress as you accomplish each part. 

Consider an example 

Say you run a hairdressing business, and you’d like to grow your returning customer base. Let’s turn this into a SMART goal. 

  • Specific – you could hope to grow your retained customer base by twenty and outline a plan, such as increased advertising, sending follow-up emails, and introducing a loyalty program.
  • Measurable – calculate how many clients you work with each month. New customers that return for another haircut within that period can show your progress.
  • Achievable – if you already work with a few new customers a month, 20 new customers over a few months can be viable. Your primary focus is to maintain the new customers you earn. 
  • Relevant – clients need hair services regularly. If they trust their hairdresser, they’ll likely return. So, focusing on retention is relevant to hairdressing business growth. 
  • Time-based – your timelines might be six months, specifically hoping to earn two new customers each month. 

How can you strengthen your business with SMART goals?

Use this guide to establish practical SMART goals for your business to keep things running and grow your operations in the long term. Just remember these goals should be:

  • Specific 
  • Measurable 
  • Achievable 
  • Relevant 
  • Time-based

If you plan to create SMART goals for business growth, you might check out our guide on writing a small business growth plan next.

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As you begin to achieve your goals with the SMART method, it’s important to organise your finances.

Countingup is the business current account and accounting software in one app. It automates time-consuming bookkeeping admin for thousands of self-employed people across the UK. 

Save yourself hours of accounting admin so you can focus on growing your business. 

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