Set “SMART” Goals for Your Business

When beginning a new business, many well meaning entrepreneurs unintentionally set the bar too high or are vague about their objectives for the first year or first few months. When goals are unreasonable or difficult to check off the list, it can cause frustration. This frustration can be counterproductive, discouraging new business owners and their employees. Using the “SMART” methodology to set goals can help get business owners through the early stages and can continue to be helpful as the business grows and prospers.

What Does “SMART” Mean?

The acronym “SMART” stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. To make goals specific and measurable, business owners can set a certain dollar amount to achieve for revenues and percentages for labor and overhead. Goals should be based on actual success indicators like these, as opposed to arbitrary figures like production volume or outreach efforts so that they are relevant. A date should be clearly defined for each goal to keep them timely.

Setting Attainable Goals

Perhaps the most difficult part of the “SMART” goal methodology to actually achieve in practice is the setting of attainable goals. What is attainable to one business may be impossible for another. Since a new business has no historical figures to use as guidelines, research should be done on comparable businesses in the industry. Figures can be extrapolated and tweaked based on organizational differences.

Dealing with Failure

There are sure to be minor bumps on the road, at some point it is likely that all goals will not be achieved. If goals are broken down into monthly and weekly blocks, it will be possible to gauge success in small blocks and make adjustments as needed to help make the larger yearly goals. When goals are not achieved, it is important to use the failure as a case study to figure out how to either improve processes or better tailor goals to be attainable.

Maintaining Consistency

Even if all goals fit into the “SMART” methodology, it is possible to be inconsistent by changing goals too often. It may be helpful to establish a timeline for goal changes, such as only raising or lowering standards on a monthly basis to allow cyclical changes in revenues and other benchmarks to become clear. Processes can be altered more frequently to help meet goals, but again, altering too frequently may make the company appear inconsistent to employees and clients. It is best to find a method that works and stick with it.

 

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