S.M.A.R.T Goals: What They Are, Why They Matter

Goals are important for any business that wants to make any form of impact in their industry. It is even more important if you want to impact the world at large. But then, there is a method for setting goals. Set it wrong and it could all be just a dream, but when it is set right, your wildest dreams can come true.

One of the best approaches to setting business goals is through the S.M.A.R.T way. We owe the first use of the term S.M.A.R.T to George T. Doran who in November 1981 published a paper called “There’s a SMART Way to Write Management’s Goals and Objectives”.

What Is SMART?

SMART is a methodology that helps you not to forget the essential elements when writing an effective goal. It is a form of checklist you can compare your goals to. In short, SMART is an acronym for 5 words that we will see throughout this article:

S stands for Specific

M stands for Measurable

A stands for Achievable

R stands for Relevant

T stands for Time-bound

Variants Of The SMART Methodology

There are other variants that give the SMART acronym different meanings to each of the letters depending on the context in which they are used:

S – Specific, or significant, stretching, stimulating, simple, self-owned, strategic, sensible…

M – Measurable, or meaningful, motivating, manageable, maintainable…

A – Achievable, or attainable, action-oriented, appropriate, agreed, assignable, ambitious, accepted, audacious…

R – Relevant, or rewarding, results-oriented, resourced, recorded, reviewable, robust…

T – Time-based or time-bound, time-lined, trackable..

Importance of Setting SMART Goals

There are so many great reasons why you should set SMART goals for your business. Here are some of the most important:

Focus and Clarification

SMART goals help you become clearer on your vision. Instead of shooting blindly into the dark, you can quickly figure out what goals are truly important. This will help you set your priorities straight and focus your resources on the important things. This leads to reduction in time and capital waste.

Easy to Understand

SMART goals are simple, straightforward, and beginner-friendly. Anyone can use it and it makes everything look simpler. With better understanding of where you are going, you can then develop better strategies.

Self-Motivation and Self-Discipline

SMART goals, when done right, can give you a big goal that keeps you motivated. Since SMART goals are designed to be achievable, you can better keep your spirit up when pursuing them. Also, it will help you develop your self-discipline and focus on the task ahead.

Creativity

SMART goals require you to tap into your creative thinking skills. You can stretch beyond what you consider possible in the past. The new perspective you get from this exercise can bring the right innovation to your business.

Action

Beyond setting goals, you get to act on them. Since SMART goals require your commitment to reap the full benefit, it would push you and make you accountable.

How To Set SMART Goals

So, how do you set SMART goals? Well, if it isn’t already obvious, the answer is in the word itself. As we examined at the start of this article, SMART is simply an acronym that highlights the five key characteristics of a smart goal. That said, let’s look at each of these five characteristics:

S For Specific

When defining a SMART goal, it should not be ambiguous. Whether you are setting your personal goals or if you are working together with your work team, it is important to be specific about what your goals are.

A good way to achieve this is to write a specific goal, answering the following questions:

  • What – Detail of what you want to achieve with your goal.
  • Which – Include possible real obstacles that prevent you from reaching your goal.
  • Who – Specify the person assigned to achieve the goal. It may be a delegated job for a third party. In many cases, somebody or a department in the company would be handling it.
  • Where – If the location is relevant to meet a goal, don’t forget to indicate that.

SMART Goals Examples:

Wrong Goal: Increase our sales for August.

Smart Goal: Increase sales of X product line by 20% by August 31 of this year across the country. The responsibility corresponds to the management of the marketing department.

M For Measurable

If you do not measure the progress of a goal you will never know how much you need to reach it. For a goal to be SMART, it must be quantifiable. If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it

When writing a goal, you must ask yourself these questions:

  • How much? How many?
  • How will I know when it has been fulfilled?

Measurement implies monitoring. Being able to measure means you can effectively track progress.

SMART Goals Examples:

Wrong Goal: To increase the average purchase ticket price of the young public in our online store.

SMART Goal: Increase the average purchase ticket price in our online store by 20%. Target audience: recurring users between 16 and 29 years old (+ other information or name of the segment/target).

A For Achievable

When creating a goal, you must seriously consider if it is something possible to achieve. Realistic goals have to encourage you to move forward and not be discouraged. But do you already have the skills and tools necessary to achieve it? Will there not be any previous stage or step that you are neglecting?

An attainable goal must answer this question:

  • How can I reach this goal?
  • How possible is it to achieve this goal?

SMART Goals Examples:

Wrong Goal: Double the visits to the company’s website this year.

Smart Goal: Increase visits (not users) to the company’s website from 5,000 to 10,000 per month to be able to launch our new service. Deadline August 31 of next year.

R For Relevant

For a goal to be relevant, it must be in accordance with the overall strategy of your brand, company or personal strategy.

Here are a few questions to define relevant goals:

  • Why is this goal important? Asking the “why” of something helps you realize whether it is an important goal or not. You can then give priority to those that really are.
  • Is the individual goal important for the overall goal (strategy)?
  • Is it the right time to set this goal?
  • Is the person assigned to the goal appropriate? (Company, group) Am I the right person? (Personal/professional brand).
  • Does the goal adapt to the reality or context in which we find ourselves?

SMART Goals Examples:

Wrong Goal: Increase the sales team to be able to grow in sales.

SMART Goal: Increase our sales team from 5 to 8 before August 31 so that we can increase sales by 50% in the region X of our country.

T For Time-Bound

As a company or start-up, it is important to set a time frame to prevent certain tasks from being postponed due to new problems that appear “seemingly” urgent.

When formulating a SMART goal, we must ask ourselves:

  • When should it be finished? Set a deadline.
  • What should I do today, tomorrow, next week…? Avoid emergencies.
  • What should I do within 6 months? Avoid putting out fires within 6 months.

SMART Goals Examples

Wrong Goal: Increase the list of subscribers to the company blog.

SMART Goal: Create a new free 30-page lead-magnet. Offer it on the blog/web before August 31 to request contact information against download (name, e-mail) and thus increase the number of subscribers to the newsletter of our business by 5% per month. Setting smart goals is the difference between success and failure. Remember, to fail to prepare is to prepare to fail. The work you put into setting SMART goals from the start would surely pay off in the long run.

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