The S.M.A.R.T. Way to Set Goals as an Entrepreneur

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“Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.”

— Japanese Proverb

Do you set goals for yourself and your business? You probably find yourself struggling to stay on task, hopping from one thing to the next if you don’t.

You also might feel like your progress has become stagnant. Maybe you’ve been one thing that has worked for so long that you haven’t even thought to change it up.

Setting goals can you spring into action when you’ve otherwise become complacent or set into a certain way of doing things. By giving yourself a deadline to figure something out, you push yourself to learn more and actually take the steps needed to break a plateau.

On the other hand, you may just be getting started and want a solid plan to follow so you can get things up and running.

How much do you think you could achieve in 100 days? There’s a lot you can do in 100 days (or much less!) as an online entrepreneur:

  • Grow your email list
  • Grow your social media following
  • Write content for the next quarter
  • Create a new online course
  • Write an ebook
  • Update your website’s SEO

What I told you could accomplish your #1 goal in 100 days or less? That there is a formula that you can use to guarantee success?

While three months might be a bit long for some of these goals, you can certainly use this method on any goal you’re prepared to work on. You can do it if you follow the SMART method and use the 6 tips outlined below.

Keep your goals S.M.A.R.T.

Your goals need to be tight, focused, and concrete. To make them easier to achieve, make your goals S.M.A.R.T.—Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

There are a lot of different variations of this acronym, but this one works best for me as an entrepreneur, so that’s what I’m going to share.

Specific

Work on keeping your goal as focused and defined as you can. It’s harder to get distracted or lose time on figuring out what to do next if you have a specific goal in mind. You’ll also have a defined finish line so you’ll know when you’ve hit your goal or how much more you need to work to complete it.

Measurable

Keep your goals tangible, whether it’s running 10 miles or writing 60,000 words of your novel.

One way to measure your goals is to keep a journal or even a blog about your journey as you work on various goals. This is a great tactic for end goals that have more emotional outcomes, as well.

This is something you can do publicly or privately. Having a public blog about your experience can add extra accountability and support from your readers, increasing your chances of success (though don’t ever fall into feeling like you’re letting people down when you’re struggling with your goal).

Your story may also inspire others to make similar goals or help them to realize they aren’t alone in their own struggles.

Attainable

Your goal should be challenging but not impossible. You can check your emotional response to the goal to gauge this.

Do you feel excited or overwhelmed? Do you feel like your goal will be really easy to reach?

Adjust your goal so it excites you and feels like you will have really accomplished something by the end of it. If you feel like your goal is too easy, then it’s better to use it as a short-term goal for a larger goal.

“The greater danger for most of us isn’t that our aim is too high and miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.”

– Michelangelo

I also find that it helps to keep your goals centered around outcomes you can actually control, especially if you’re new to this whole entrepreneur thing. If you fall short of a goal like gaining 500 email subscribers, you may become discouraged, even though it’s not entirely your fault that you didn’t hit that goal.

Audience growth goals aren’t bad, but they tend not to go as quickly as we think they will. So for those who are new or don’t have the traffic that builds a large following from, set goals that aren’t dependent on action from other people.

Focus instead on goals that will allow you to grow your skillset or put systems in place for when you do have a larger audience.

Relevant

The way I see it, there are two ways to approach relevancy when setting a SMART goal.

Your goal could be one that speaks to your heart and will move your life forward. This is a good way to look at relevancy for long-term goals. Make sure that these are *your goals—*not your manager’s, or your friend’s, or your partner’s. You won’t be as motivated to complete a goal that doesn’t benefit you.

Another is that the goal should be relevant to the project you’re trying to complete. This is best used when setting short or medium-term goals that lead up to a long-term goal.

For example, if I want to earn $1,000 next month, it wouldn’t make sense for me to set a short-term goal of gaining 300 Instagram followers since more followers won’t make me more money and Instagram isn’t the best way for me to get people on to my website.

A better goal would be to create a short email course or something else that I could use to promote my products, or to create a new product entirely and set goals around marketing it.

Time-bound

Always give yourself a deadline to complete your goal. This is another step that should be a little bit challenging, but it shouldn’t be so short that you feel like there’s a chance you won’t be able to finish it in the time you’ve allowed.

A good time period to shoot for with most goals is about 100 days. That gives you 3 months to accomplish a medium-term goal that may be a part of a long-term goal.

Though we’re talking about setting a 100-day goal right now, you can use SMART for any length goal you want. You can even set short-term SMART goals that you can use to achieve your 100-day goal.

Work on your goal

“A goal properly set is halfway reached.”

— Zig Ziglar

Once your goal is set, it’s time to get started with the hard part—actually working towards achieving that goal! Here are some tips to keep yourself motivated throughout the entire 100 days.

Know what you need to do

As you may be able to tell already, SMART goals work best if you know the steps you need to do to achieve your goal already. If you aren’t prepared to create a plan for your goal, you may need to take a step back and learn what it is you need to actually do to achieve that goal first.

This will also make it a lot easier to set a timeframe that you can feel comfortable with.

Have a plan

It’s all well and good to set your goal and know what you need to do to achieve it, but you still need a plan to carry out that will get you from Point A to Point B.

How will you grow your email list? What steps will you take to create your course? What will you do to get people to follow your Instagram?

You can use SMART-goal-ception to create smaller SMART goals inside your main SMART goal that are steps towards achieving the larger goal.

Which actually brings me to my next point!

Take small steps

Keep focused on small actions and steps that add up to achieving your main goal. Work out what you need to do to get there and in what sequence. Remember that your daily, weekly, and monthly actions all add up to success.

For example, if you want to grow your email list in the next 100 days, a basic goal plan may look like this:

  • Research what would be a good opt-in incentive
  • Create the opt-in incentive
  • Promote the opt-in incentive

Check-in on your progress

“If the plan doesn’t work, change the plan, but never the goal.”

You’ll keep your motivation high and your project on course if you make regular progress checks. You’ll be able to see if any aspect of your project is slipping and make adjustments early to get back on track.

Set progress milestones and make sure you include rewards for hitting each one. Keep that positive feedback loop going by celebrating and rewarding success.

Be accountable

Achieving your goal will be easier if you’re accountable to someone else. Ask a friend, coach, or mentor to be your accountability buddy and share your progress reports with them.

There are lots of Facebook groups for entrepreneurs and people love seeing the work of others. Try sharing your progress there. As long as you’re not being overly promotional and posting links to your content when you shouldn’t be, you’ll probably find a pretty good support system in one of your groups.

Don’t give up!

Commit to yourself that you will keep going to achieve your 100-day goal. Everyone has bad days, and sometimes life can throw you a curveball, but it’s more important that you pick yourself up and stay on course.

Keep it simple and stick to the five-step S.M.A.R.T. formula whenever you set a new goal, whether it’s large or small. You’ll be on your way to accomplishing your goal before you know it!

Don’t forget that you can also use this approach to complete smaller goals within a long-term goal. Whether it’s creating a new product, building your email list, or learning a new skill, the same principle applies. Break your goals down into smaller, more achievable chunks and go for it!

Thank you for sharing!

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