SMART is an acronym that describes the important characteristics of good business goals.
Your goals and objectives for the business, regardless of which type of business plan format you go with, are significant drivers for all of your business activities.
Once you have determined what your goals are, each and everything you do in the business should contribute in some way to the achievement of those goals, and it really pays to be smart about it!
Developing your goals and objectives using the SMART methodology will not only allow you to consider the important aspects of each of your goals, but it will enable you to measure your progress towards achieving the goals.
So, What Exactly are SMART Goals and Objectives?
SMART Goals are goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based.
Any time you want to effect change in your business or your life, developing goals can focus your energy and help to keep you motivated but only if those goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based.
If the goals do not meet these five criteria it is either going to be impossible, or at least very difficult, to achieve the desired result.
Specific is another word for detailed. The more detailed your goal is, the easier it will be to work towards it. Specific also means that when you are working out what your goal is you need to spend some time working out how you plan to achieve it.
For example your goal might be:
I will increase my business income (the what) by increasing sales to existing customers and by finding new customers (the how).
So that you will actually know whether you have achieved the goal or not, or how close or how far away you are from achieving the goal. Objective measures are better than subjective ones. Objective measures will stay the same over time whereas subjective measures can change.
I will increase my business income (the what) by 30% (the measurement) by increasing sales to existing customers and by finding new customers (the how).
This one is perhaps a bit obvious, but it is still worth emphasising. If your business (or life) goal cannot be achieved, it just cannot be achieved!
Sometimes we set ourselves impossible tasks, either because something in us believes it is something we should strive for or because we are pushed by others. And sometimes we set not so SMART goals without sufficient information to make an informed decision.
Another form of unachievable goal is one that is physically possible, but just not what we want.
If your deepest wishes and desires are incongruent with your goals, your sub-conscious will be aware of it and do everything possible to prevent you from achieving the goal. This might mean that you procrastinate, don't return messages even when you know you should, or you miss appointments or turn up late. And none of it will be intentional (consciously anyway).
So what do you do when you find out your goal is unachievable?
Go back to the beginning and set more achievable SMART goals!
Relevant and Realistic
Does your goal make sense given your current circumstances? A relevant goal is one that improves your business or life in some way, and it also needs to be realistic. This one is related to the requirement that your goals be achievable, but is more about your own capabilities. Providing your goal is physically possible (and therefore it is achievable), will you (or your business) actually be able to achieve it given the time and resources you have at your disposal?
If not, you need to start again and either develop new goals or break you goals down into smaller chunks that can be achieved and will also contribute to achieving your higher order goals (i.e., goals that are not realistic at the moment, given current resources but will be in the future with careful planning).
Timely (or Time Based)
Time-based means that you have a 'by date' for your goal. For example your goal might be:
I will increase my business income (the what) by 30% (the measurement) by increasing sales to existing customers and by finding new customers (the how), by December 2011 (the time frame).
You need to develop a time frame so that you are actually motivated to achieve the goal. If there is no time frame, there is no push to act.
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