What are SMART goals and why they matter for your business

2018-05-03, by: Alessandra Burroughs

For any action you take in the benefit of your business growth, be it planning your website's content, redesigning your website or starting a campaign with paid ads, it's important that you set some realistic and attainable goals so you don't get lost in the process and loose sight of the results you want to achieve with it.

Setting SMART goals for your business helps you get more clarity in your business decisions and get the most bang for your buck when investing in it.


The importance of setting and measuring goals for creting a successful and profitable business

In business, whether your investing time, resouces or money, it's imperative that you define metrics and set goals for what you want to achieve with your content production so you can best employ your efforts.

I've tried a handful of strategies to acquire new customers and increase profitability and when those were not bringing the return for the investment, I cut them short.

For each action taken, I wrote down the results it should produce, quantified and within a reasonably set time frame and, when they were not performing, I adjusted my approach and couse of actions.

Setting real clear and workable goals can be harder than it appear at a first glance and that's where SMART can help with it.


What's the meaning of SMART

SMART goals are a framewok/blueprint for setting and evaluteing goals that you can recur to check and validate your gaol setting, each letter standing for one of the characteristics that every carefully planned goal must possess.

An ideal goal must be:  

S specific

What areas does this goal affect? Who it does involve and where will it be applied?

When setting a goal make sure to verify to what areas does your goal apply and check if it is specific enough to be implemented.

For instance: increasing sales in your bsuniness is a goal, but not smart enough.

You need to add more data to it to make it specific. A goal like this is much more clear and specific:

Geeting more people to email or call my office to conatct my sales team so we can convert them into new clients.

You must provide as much as possible information for the person or team responsible for turning your goal into reality.


M Measurable

How will you know that the goal was completed?

What will be the numbers and indicators to measure the desired results?

Can your results be quantified in terms of how much and how many? It's easier for existing businesses to set reasonable measures for the results that the required actions must produce, but new businesses may have a garder time trying to figure it out.

Conduct some research using ethical and legal means available and ask other businesses that share some commonalities and have similar resources than yours.

Avoid direct competitors disputing the same market because they wouldn't be much interested in giving away this information to you.

Businesses and professionals that already walked your journey are also a good source of information and on many fields, more established businesses are glad to share advice based on their history and experience.

Please keep in mind market and economy changes when lstening to their advice before you follow them.

Once you've done as much as possible research if you still doesn't have enough data, a little strategy I came up with for defining quantities when the researched data is insuficient for decision-makingis setting it to a minimal necessary to make a difference in the business outcome, finding a balance between achievement and relevance, which are next atributes of smart goals.


A achievable

Is this a resonable goal given the resources you currently have? How will it be implemented and who will do it?

That's where you define who and how the actions necessary for moving towards your goal will be implemented.

Perhaps some parts or the whole of it will be delegated but it will still require some decision, evaluation from you on who will execute it and if you can afford its implementation or need to review and adjust your goal or plan.


R relevant

How does this goal fit within your bigger plan or long term strategy? Are the results it must bring worth of the effort and resources you need to employ to it?

Reflect on why is this goal is imprtant for you and your business endeavours.

Although not the first letter in the acronism, I say this is probably the most important point in SMART goals and where you must start your goal setting.


T timebound

When it's due? When do you expect to start seeing the results?

One of the things that occasionaly frustrated me most in some places I`ve worked before going full-time freelance was when I comissioned of a project or task and the person passing the coordinates to me had no clue for when it should be ready.

In web design and development there are many ways to build a page or website, ranging from template based to more custom designed and coded solutions, not to mention the varying levels of complexity in execution, which technologies and languages to choose from, etc.

So the lack of this information forxces you to take a wild guess of how to tackle the jobs to be done.

When setting expected results too, not having a time frame is like not having set them at all.


Setting S.M.A.R.T. goals

If it seems too difficult to turn a generic goal into a SMART one, then it's probably because you must break it into smaller ones.

Breaking bigger goal into small goals and milestones that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-related is the key to achieving them.


Keep improving with an eye on the big picture

Analyising your results help you get better at decsion-making a setting new goals for your business.

Constantly evaluating the impact of your succcessful goals in your business long-term sustainability and success help you set smarter goals evry time and make smart decisions related to your business.


Be prepared to adjust to changes

Sometimes you need to adjust your smaller gaols to circumstances in order to achieve your higher goal.

On others, a adjustment in the execution plan and the how is what's necessary to adapt and reach your goals.

Recently I gave an example on how external factors can affect your business in unepected ways that will require an action response from you.

The ability to navigate those changes is as important as long term commitment and consistence in business.

Sticking to a plan or decision is only good as long as it is helping your business.

If in the course of the time frame a change happens that makes it irrelevant or in dissonance with the achievement of your goals it's a sign it's time to re-evaluate it.

As long as you make sure you're honoring commitments and agreements, business decisions can and must be reviewed in the light of new facts and events for the safeguard of your business purposes.

With enough time in the market, those fluctuations serve to guide and inform future decisions and goals.

How do you make decisions and set goals for your biz?

Do you have any advice to share with us?

Alessandra Burroughs, web designer and developer

With over 10 years of experience in Web Design, Development and Project Management, work featured on .NET magazine and an Apple Creativity Prize in WebDesign, Alessandra helps business owners and entrepreneurs promote their company's brand, achieve goals and reach their customers or audience online, being the go-to person for website maintenance, updates, optimization and webmaster tasks in general.

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