SMART Goals for Small Business Owners

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A Step-by-Step Guide to Setting Achievable Objectives

From one business owner to another, if we asked you what your business goal is for the next year, would you agree that it’s probably along the lines of “getting more business?” We get it, because we too once answered this question in a similar manner.

But what if we asked you to dig deeper? What if we asked you what “get more business” actually means to you? This can be difficult to answer, and you’re not alone. 

In fact, many small businesses don’t have a clear goal in mind. Many small businesses operate under the perception that they’re not big enough to set lofty goals and are simply striving to keep their heads above water. 

While “getting more business” is all well and good, it can often leave you lacking focus if you don’t know where you want to go. It’s comparable to jumping into your car, setting out for a location in another state and not knowing the route to get there. 

Here’s the thing, successful businesses, big or small, all have one thing in common. They have a clear set of goals with specific objectives. They know what they want to achieve and they’ve mapped out a plan to take them there. 

Enter – SMART goals. We know, we know, you’ve probably heard it before but maybe not steps to actually set them. To start, SMART is a handy acronym commonly used for goal setting and creating the roadmap you need to turn your overarching dreams for your company into reality. It guarantees the goals you set are Smart, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. By using this framework, you’ll be more likely to see the goal through and achieve it by the time you define it. 

Follow our step-by-step guide to setting achievable objectives that are SMART:

Step 1: Identify your business objectives

Let’s start slow but with a big picture. Before you can set your smaller SMART goals, you need to identify your big business objectives. These are the big-picture goals that you want to achieve in your business. For example, you might want to increase revenue by X amount, take off for an entire month, expand your customer base in a new market, or launch a new product or service. Whatever your business objectives are, it’s important to be clear on what they are so that you can set smaller goals that will help you achieve them.

Step 2: Break down your big objectives into smaller goals

You wouldn’t set out to run a marathon without training for it. Similarly, it wouldn’t make sense to try and tackle that big goal without first setting smaller ‘5K’ goals to get you there. Once you’ve identified your big business objectives, it’s time to break them down. For example, if your objective is to increase sales (pretty lofty and non-specific), you might first set a smaller goal of increasing website traffic or improving your conversion rate. Breaking down your objectives into smaller goals will help you to stay focused and motivated as you work towards achieving your bigger objectives.

Step 3: Make your goals Specific

The next step is to make your goals Specific. This means that you need to be clear on what you want to achieve. For example, instead of setting a goal to “increase website traffic,” you might set a goal to “increase website traffic by 20% in the next six months.” This is a much more specific goal that gives you a clear target to work towards.

Step 4: Make your goals Measurable

In addition to being Specific (aka smaller), your goals also need to be Measurable. This means that you need to be able to track your progress and measure your success. Using the same example as before, if your goal is to “increase website traffic by 20% in the next six months,” you need to have a way to measure your website traffic so that you can track your progress. What tactics do you plan to put in place in order to achieve a 20% increase in website traffic? Can you accurately measure if those tactics are working towards meeting and exceeding that goal or do you need to pivot to a plan B to get you there faster?

Step 5: Make your goals Achievable

While it’s important to set ambitious goals, it’s also important to make sure that your goals are Achievable. No one likes being let down and a way to avoid disappointment and discouragement is to make sure your goals are realistic. Look back to past metrics or efforts and reevaluate to see if this seems doable. Setting goals that are too difficult or unrealistic can lead to frustration and demotivation. So, when setting your goals, make sure that they are still challenging but also achievable.

Step 6: Make your goals Relevant

Another important aspect of setting SMART goals is making sure that they are Relevant to your business objectives. Seems obvious but you’d be surprised! In other words, your goals should be aligned with the Bob Ross bigger picture of what you want to achieve in your business. In our example, if your business objective is to increase sales, setting a goal to improve your social media engagement might not be as relevant as setting a goal to improve your product offerings or sales process.

Step 7: Make your goals Time-bound

The final step in setting SMART goals is to make them Time-bound. This means that you need to set a deadline for achieving your goals. This helps to keep you motivated and focused on achieving your goals within a specific timeframe. Using our same example, if your goal is to “increase website traffic by 20% in the next six months,” you have a clear timeframe to work towards and can break that down month-to-month even.

Setting SMART Goals: A Practical Example

Let’s say you run an in-home candle studio and your goal is to increase your online sales. 

Here’s an example of how you can use the SMART goal framework to set an achievable objective:

  • Specific: “I want to increase my online sales of my woodwick candle collection by 30%.”
  • Measurable: “I will track that 30% by reviewing sales using my website’s analytics and set up a spreadsheet to monitor my progress. I’ll analyze these metrics on a biweekly basis.”
  • Achievable: “I will invest in online advertising, offer discounts and promotions, and improve my website’s user experience to attract more customers. I have increased slightly by 5% in months past but have evaluated what I can do to improve.”
  • Relevant: “Increasing my online sales will help me grow my business and reach a wider audience.”
  • Time-bound: “I will achieve this goal within the next six months, by (insert date).”

By following this framework, you’ve created a specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goal that will help you grow your business.

Set SMART Goals & Celebrate Your Success! 

In conclusion, setting SMART goals is an essential part of running a successful small business. By following these seven steps, you can set objectives that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. And don’t forget to celebrate the successes of your hive along the way – you should celebrate every milestone you achieve in your business journey!

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