If you were part of a business studies at school, you’ll no doubt have heard of the term ‘SMART Goals’ before. Whilst this is taught as best practice for any business, it’s seldom used by entrepreneurs. Small businesses frequently struggle to set SMART goals, dismissing the exercise as a waste of time that gets in the way of making profit.
What are SMART goals?
SMART goals are both short-term and long-term business objectives set by a company to clarify what the business would like to achieve, when they would like to achieve it by, and how to achieve it.
- S A vague suggestion such as “make more money” isn’t a goal that can be planned for- there are too many layers and obstacles to overcome before achieving this. For instance, if you are an independent car garage and the overall objective is to make more money, it would make more sense to set the goal to “be fully-booked with appointments every day”. From here, you can put in place a plan to work towards, and in turn, will achieve a small percentage of the overall goal to make more money as a company.
- M Assign milestones to each of your goals so you can ensure that the company is heading in the right direction to achieve the objective. E.g. At the start of the month, take some time out to review the amount of bookings you have for the following month. This way you can identify if there is an issue with enough time to plan what the next step will be.
- A Identify what you can do for this goal to be achievable within the allocated time period. Using the same example, a car garage may look to find new ways to market their company and build awareness in the local area. This could include increasing their advertising budget.
- R All goals need to be relevant to the business’ current situation. If an independent car garage was to announce that they would like to go national, whilst this is a brilliant long-term goal to have, given the current situation it would be wiser to declare that they would like to open 5 new garages in the area within the next three years. In hindsight, this is an objective that qualifies as long-term but is a relevant goal that the company can plan for now.
- T Set a realistic deadline for when you would like to achieve each goal by. You could tie these into the milestones that you’ve assigned to measure the progress of each goal. A little pressure is necessary sometimes to achieve the goals we set for ourselves, but without a timeframe, we’re all guilty of holding back progression due to the lack of pressure to make changes and reach a set goal.
How to plan SMART goals for your business?
For a business that has never set SMART goals before, start with something small like planning your work a week in advance to improve your organisation and productivity. Once you’ve completed this, you can review what worked and what requires a different approach. Then, try again on a larger scale.
Some companies find it easier to write the goals down on a whiteboard, somewhere visible for everyone to see, and wipe them off as they’re achieved. This works especially well for companies that require their employees to make changes in order to achieve the goals. To take this one step further, you could break down the SMART acronym into columns on the whiteboard where colleagues can visually see what needs to be done and when to achieve these goals.
Why do we need SMART goals?
As one may expect, SMART goals are a really easy way for businesses to keep progressing. Whether that is to increase efficiency, improve productivity, strengthen employee satisfaction, or push for company growth.
Without goals and objectives, it would be unclear as to what the company aspires to and where it would like to be. Therefore, how are you able to plan your next move or what is best for the company if you’re unsure whether that decision will contribute towards the business or not?
SMART goals are easy to set and don’t need to be anything fancy, even if your goal was to always keep the workshop tidy, something as small as this would increase efficiency. In return, the achievement of this goal will save time and money but doesn’t require any strenuous or dramatic changes.
No matter the size, industry, or financial status that your business falls under, taking the time out to set SMART goals will be one of the smartest decisions you make (excuse the pun!).