Setting goals for your business is key to getting from where you are to where you want to be. The best goals you can set for yourself are SMART goals. SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely.
Specific is the what, why and how of your goal. What is it that you’d like to achieve? Why is this important to you at this time? And how are you going to do it? Some examples are that:
- I’m going to lose the 5 lbs I put on over the holidays over the next 60 days.
- I’m going to read 15 pages of a book each night.
- I’m will take on three new buyers next month who plan to buy a home within 60 days.
Measurable means that you will know when you’ve achieved that goal. You know whether you lose 5 lbs or read 15 pages each day or bring in 3 new clients next month. You also know when you’ve made progress. Even if you only lose 2 lbs or gain 2 new clients, you can see that what you’re doing is working.
Often, however, we set vague goals that are hard to quantify. We say things like:
- I want to bring in more money
- I want to spend more time with my family
- I want to remodel my kitchen
- I want to buy a new car
It’s difficult to measure such goals because we don’t have a clear vision of the outcome. What does “more money” mean? That could be $1 or $10,000 more. How do you want to “remodel your kitchen”? Perhaps you want to add a GE Monogram range, a built in wall oven and marble counter tops by the end of the year. What type of “new car” do you want to buy and when would you like it?
While you should set goals that push you to achieve, you don’t want to set goals that are too far out of reach. If you make $50,000 now, it’s probably a stretch that you’ll make $1 million next year. Nor could you lose 25 lbs over the next week just by dieting.
Instead, focus on things that you do feel you can achieve and that you are motivated to work towards. If you set things that are too big, you often overwhelm yourself and you defeat yourself before you can even get started.
While we’d all like to bring about world peace or end global poverty, such tasks are much too big for one individual. Realistic goals mean that you can “do” them. For instance, you can help out at a local shelter for high risk teens, donate to charity, or participate in your community soup kitchen. Those are all actions you could take that reduce the problems of violence or poverty within your community one person at a time.
Realistic doesn’t mean “easy.” Rather, it means that you believe that you can accomplish it with hard work and by taking specific steps towards the goal. You want to challenge yourself, but you don’t want it to be too overwhelming that you throw your hands up in frustration and give up.
Many people never get around to doing something unless they have a deadline. Deadlines motivate us to get whatever it is done by a certain time. They also provide a means to make us accountable for our goals. For instance, you can make a deal with yourself, your significant other, or a friend that you will achieve your goal by this date – or else!
The “or else” will be up to you to establish. If you’re motivated by rewards, indulge yourself by going to a nice restaurant or a luxury spa. If you’re motivated by punishment, make a deal that you will donate money to a cause you don’t support or that you must give up something if you don’t meet the deadline.
That said, you deadline should be realistic and something that will be able to meet without stressing yourself out.
Setting SMART business goals gives you a benchmark for how to measure your business success. They serve as motivation to take action and get things done. Try to set three goals you will accomplish this month – imagine where your business will be if you make that happen!