SMART Goal Setting for Entrepreneurs

SMART Goal Setting for Entrepreneurs

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You may know that goals are the foundation of a good business plan, but maybe you don’t really know what makes a good business goal. You should consider setting SMART goals for your business.

Operating a business without goals is kind of like heading out on a trip without a map or directions. You’ll eventually get somewhere, but it’s unlikely to be where you wanted to go.

Without goals, you don’t have a clear direction to take your business. Any steps that you do take are arbitrary and often end up being a waste of your energy, time, and money.

Ever spent time working on a project only to later realize it doesn’t really fit with your audience? Then you know what it’s like to operate without a well thought out, goal-driven plan.

Setting SMART goals will help you create a plan of action based on small, achievable steps that lead to much greater results than you ever thought possible!

Setting SMART Goals for Your Business

If you want to take your business to the next level and increase your income, then new goals are in order. But let’s be clear here—just setting any old goal won’t do.

To take your business to the next level, you need to understand what makes a good goal. A quick and simple way to determine if your goal is a “good goal” to have is to create a SMART goal.

These are goals that are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

There are some different variations of the acronym out there, but this is the one that I feel works best for most business goals. Sometimes the A and the R can be too similar, but this definition hits 5 different areas perfectly.

By setting goals that are SMART, you’re creating a goal statement that:

  • Explains exactly what you want to achieve (which often includes how you want to do it) [SPECIFIC]
  • Sets a way to measure success so you can tell if your methods are working [MEASURABLE]
  • Is within the realm of possibility for your situation and abilities [ACHIEVABLE]
  • Makes sense for your business and directly or indirectly relates to your bottom line [RELEVANT]
  • Must be completed within a specific and realistic timeframe [TIME-BOUND]

Following this method for goal setting eliminates many of the issues that come with setting goals that are so difficult to complete that you don’t stick with them. SMART goals are designed to be challenging, but achievable, which makes you feel like a winner. The better something makes you feel, the longer you’ll stick with it.

The Importance of Achievable Goals

One of the most often overlooked components of SMART goals is the concept of Achievability. Is the goal that you’re setting realistic? Is it something that you can take steps toward on a consistent basis?

Why is achievability important and why is it so difficult to pinpoint? The question is often motivation. By nature, we tend to set either really super safe goals or pipe dream goals.

Safe goals, goals that can be accomplished with little or no effort, are often set by people who are just going through the motions in business. They’re not excited about their business, they’re “too busy” to set goals, or they’re terrified of failure.

Generally, entrepreneurs aren’t terrified of failure but they can feel overwhelmed and/or apathetic about their business. If you’re no longer excited about your business, it may be time to step back and explore why.

But what about those that tend to set pipe dream type goals? We’re talking about those unrealistic “I’m going to sell a million products” type goals when last year they only sold 1,000 products.

These types of goals are exciting. It’s easy to get pumped up about a goal that triples your income or has you hitting the bestseller’s list, right?

But the motivation for grand and unrealistic goals often fades quickly. You’re left with a goal that never really got off of the ground and perhaps some wasted time, energy, and effort.

Don’t leave your business growth up to chance! Go from just winging it to growing with intention by using SMART business goals. Here’s how:

So What Makes a Goal Achievable?

Achievable goals are goals that challenge you. They force you to create a strategy and a plan to follow through. However, the follow-through must be possible. It’s the ability to follow through that determines whether a goal is achievable or not.

Here’s an example, let’s say that you decide you want to double your income by adding an affiliate program to your business. You start by taking the steps to create the affiliate program.

That’s great, but you’ve only just begun!

If you don’t also follow through and create good products or services along with good promotions that your affiliates can offer, then sales won’t increase and neither will your income.

If you don’t market your affiliate program and bring on highly motivated affiliates, you also won’t increase your income. So, an achievable goal is a goal that you can realistically follow through on the steps required to make it happen.

Summing it up, an achievable goal is:

  • Challenging – Achievable goals don’t need to be easy goals. They should challenge you to work hard.
  • Motivating – Your goal should make you feel motivated with every step that you take. As time goes by, you want to be able to continue taking positive steps toward success.
  • Realistic – It might take hard work but with a good plan, you can achieve success
  • Doable – you must be able to follow through on your plans to achieve success.

Turning BIG Goals Into Achievable Goals

Now, I want to make it clear that I’m not saying you shouldn’t have big goals that you want to accomplish. Everything goal you set doesn’t need to “feel small.”

In fact, you need a big goal to work towards, or like our road trip example from the beginning, you have no idea where you’re trying to go. Plus, as long you’re actually working towards them, these lofty goals can still pay off, even if you don’t exactly meet them.

Reach for the moon, land among stars, right?

It’s best to make these big goals as long-term goals and use SMART goals as achievable milestones to get there. They should be somewhere within your 1, 5, or 10-year plan to give you a chance to figure them out and work towards the foundational stuff that’s necessary to get there.

I know I can’t wake up sometime next week and make a million dollars, but I can make a goal to make a million within the next 5 years, then set smaller goals to build the foundation necessary to grow and scale my business.

planner on desk open to goals page - setting SMART goals for your business can help it grow
Photographer: Alexa Williams | Source: Unsplash

Using Milestones in Your SMART Goals

Milestones are actions or events that mark a significant step in your process. For example, if you’re writing a book then you’ll have a better chance at success if you set smaller goals that lead up to your end goal of writing the book.

You can work backward to determine what your milestones should be and when they should be accomplished. For example:

Goal: 50,000-word ebook/information product done by June 15th

  • June 15th – book edited and ready to publish
  • May 15th 50,000 words
  • April 15th 40,000 words
  • March 15th 30,000 words
  • February 15th 20,000 words
  • January 15th 10,000 words

Milestones help you stay on track to achieve your goal. It makes a larger goal much more manageable and breaks the process up into smaller goals that are also specific, measurable and so on.

Setting milestones and breaking your goal down into manageable steps is a test. If you’re unable to do that, then the goal is not achievable. If your smaller goals and milestones seem too difficult to achieve, then the goal is not achievable.

This is why using the SMART method is so effective, especially when you’re new to something. It ensures you’re working towards something that’s possible so you aren’t wasting time and effort. Once you’re more experienced, you may be more inclined to take more risks, but this at least gets you started on the right track.

Three Major Goal Categories to Grow Your Business

We’ve talked quite a bit about what an achievable goal is and why it matters. We’ve defined what achievable means in terms of goal setting and how to know if your goal is achievable.

It’s important to also take a look at what types of goals help you take your business to the next level. It’s easy to get caught in the “more money” type of goals, but there are other types of goals that can lead to increased profits and a better business as well.

If someone were to ask you right now what one step you could take to grow your business what would you answer? Generally speaking, there are three categories to look at. And if you establish achievable goals in all three areas, you’re on your way to fantastic business growth and a good year.

1. Audience Goals

An audience goal means that your goal is to grow your followers, prospects, and ultimately your leads. This approach builds your exposure and awareness and generally leads to more profits. Again, you’ll want to decide what an achievable audience goal is and how you’re going to achieve it.

2. Product Goals

This refers to the goal of releasing new products or creating promotions for existing products. Take a look at your existing funnel (or lack of one). Explore your audience’s needs, motivations, and buying process. How can you add more value through products or services and grow your business?

3. Income Goals

Income goals are just that. They are “I want to make $XX,XXX in profits this year.” They require some pretty strategic planning when determining how you’re going to reach those income goals. What are you going to add, change, get rid of, and so on?

As you look at these goal categories, you’ll see that they support business growth and they support one another. A larger audience increases profits; more products and promotions may also increase your income.

Identify what your business needs and make one or two big goals for the upcoming year. Break it down into smaller SMART goals, set milestones, and achieve success.

Review and Revise Your Goals Regularly

While the importance of setting goals is obvious, what you and many other entrepreneurs may not realize is that your goals, and your business plan, need to be updated regularly. Usually at least once a year.

Why?

Well, ask yourself these questions:

  • Did your business change over the past year?
  • Do you have new products or services?
  • Do you have new customers and prospects?
  • Do you want to make more money this upcoming year?

If you answered yes to any or all of these questions then guess what?

It’s time for new goals!

The first step in my Success Mindset Business Planner is to go over everything you’ve accomplished in the previous year and congratulate yourself on your success. Then you take those successes and plan to advance them in the coming year.

If you don’t have a business plan yet, be sure to check out the planner. It will guide you through the creation of a business plan by working towards achieving your dream life—perfect for those of us who are working on building our side hustle as solopreneurs.

Even if you already have a business plan, you may find this approach refreshing.

Recap: SMART Goals for Entrepreneurs

When you want to create new goals for your business, especially for a new business, it’s helpful to use SMART goals.

Keep these tips in mind:

  • Remember the SMART acronym when considering a new goal: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound
  • Achievable goals are challenging, motivating, realistic, and doable
  • Use and track milestones to break down your goals
  • Create business goals in three major categories: audience, product, and income

Use SMART goals to grow your business beyond what you’ve ever imagined!

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