A SMART goal is a short statement that a person makes to lead them in the direction of what they want to accomplish. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. Having goals written in a SMART format ensures that the goal-setter is clear on what they’re trying to accomplish, when and how.
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We spoke to 20 business and HR professionals who shared examples of how they use SMART goals for their business success. We’ve also provided a template and instructions for writing your own SMART goals:
1. One Journal Article Ready for Submission
Dr. George Taylor, SHRM-SCP, SPHR, Co-Founder, Entrepreneur, Educator, Personal Coach, Serent Properties LLC-ENTORGCORP, LLC
I use SMART holistically as both a performance management framework for the organization and for individual efforts. The element of SMART that I am particularly sensitive to in both approaches is the notion of measurement.
Being specific, ensuring goals are attainable, relevant and timely is not too difficult even when working to ensure a line-of-sight between the organization and individual performance. Yet, measures are where, in my experience, there’s a tendency to be too broad or nonspecific. This is also an area that I believe that being acutely aware of the results of performance when a measure is achieved requires attention. For example, if the goal was to improve quality-of-hire by 10%, what does that really mean and, if we achieved it, what was the specific impact on the organization?
Leadership SMART Goal I use:
By December 31, 2018, my company will improve sales conversion rates by 20% for HRIS implementation efforts within the public sector, city and federal.
This leadership SMART goal example works because it lends itself to alignment and developing specific actions by a supervisor within my company. It’s specific enough to galvanize efforts yet also phrased and structured where specific actions can be developed and cascaded down to the supervisor and employee.
This is a company goal that can be shaped by each key lead in my company and lead to specific, tangible actions that include segmentation, targeting, and presentation to contract.
Coach SMART goal I use on clients:
By June 30, 2018, you will have one journal article ready for review and submission for your career development plan set forth by your employer.
This one works because it meets the criteria of SMART while also ensuring that the client maintains responsibility for the goal and its achievement. SMART goals work very well when supplemented by PM frameworks that lend to coordination and collaboration. SMART facilitates alignment yet in itself may not be enough — yet combined with broader performance management frameworks can serve as a performance enhancement tool.
2. Five Customer Education Webinars
Ada Chen Rekhi, Founder and COO, Notejoy
SMART goal example:
Plan and execute five customer education webinars this
quarter with 15-plus attendees per event and 80% or higher satisfied/very satisfied
response on content.
This example is specific (five webinars), measurable (number of attendees and satisfaction rate), attainable (the resources are available), relevant (useful for the business) and time-based (within this quarter).
3. Pay Off $5,000
Katie Ross, Education and Development Manager, American Consumer Credit Counseling
Setting financial goals is an important step toward gaining control of your finances. One example of a SMART goal is to grow professionally in my position to increase my annual salary.
Specific: I will earn a pay increase.
Measurable: I will document my progress and work with management to ensure I am meeting the goals and expectations of the job throughout the year.
Achievable: I will achieve this by working hard and becoming more valuable to the company.
Relevant/Realistic: I will participate in development opportunities and project opportunities throughout the year to better demonstrate my contributions during the course of the year.
Timely: I will accomplish an increase within one year of employment.
Another nonwork-related SMART goal is paying off unsecured debt.
Specific: I will pay off $5,000 in unsecured debt.
Measurable: I will apply at least $100 each month to that debt.
Achievable: I can achieve this if I cut back on my cable, mobile phone service and other discretionary spending.
Relevant/Realistic: I need to reduce my debt to apply more money to savings and future goals.
Timely: I will pay off this debt in 30 months.
4. Increase Search Engine Traffic by 10%
Jeff Proctor, Owner, DollarSprout
DollarSprout is a personal finance website geared toward helping millennials make smarter choices with their money. As someone who manages a small team of content creators, I use SMART goals every week to keep our business running smoothly and moving forward.
An example of a SMART goal I use regularly with our editorial team: instead of: “I want to focus on growing our online audience,” my SMART goal [is]:
During the next two months, I want to increase our search engine traffic by 10% by focusing on re-optimizing our existing content and making a concerted effort to earn 10 high-quality backlinks to that content.
- Specific: I want to increase our search engine traffic by 10% during the next two months
- Measurable: We will re-optimize our five best pieces of content to make them even better and aim to secure 10 high-quality backlinks to those pieces of content.
- Attainable: If everyone on our team pitches in, this goal is very realistic and attainable.
- Relevant: Search engine traffic is the most valuable traffic source for our business. This plan is the best way for us to increase our organic traffic, so accomplishing this goal directly translates into business success.
- Time-based: We will accomplish this during the next two months and measure our performance by both our actions and the ensuing results.
5. Grow Market Share by 15%
Linda Pophal, owner/consultant, Strategic Communications, LLC
It’s a common misconception that goals are SMART. Actually, objectives are SMART and are used to support goals, which are broader. So, for example, I might have a goal of increasing marketing share for my organization. My objectives would support that goal and would be stated using SMART language in this case: “Grow market share by 15%, in the state of Wisconsin, for product line XYZ, by the end of the fiscal year.”
- It’s specific: we know the geographic area, the product line and the level of growth we’re looking for
- It’s measurable: we will be able to measure, objectively, whether or not we achieve the objectives
- It’s attainable: or, we’ll assume so in this case
- It’s relevant: because it ties directly back to our goal
- It’s time-bound: we’ve indicated a specific endpoint by which we will achieve our objective
It’s very important to create and use SMART objectives because they provide a frame of reference for all involved. That way, at the end of some time period, someone (the boss) isn’t upset because a department didn’t “do enough” and the department isn’t upset because, despite the fact they worked really hard and achieved some market share growth, it wasn’t “enough.”
6. Design a Course on Presentation Skills
Tim Toterhi, ICF Certified Executive Coach, Founder, Plotline Leadership
During the next four weeks, design a soft-skill course on presentation skills that contains a pre-assessment, three hours of online coursework and a half-day face-to-face training session that features video, a post-course assessment and coaching.
Specific: type of course and layout
Measurable: completion of the whole course and individual parts, such as assessments that can be measured
Assignable: to direct report A (parts can be delegated)
Realistic: based on previous output
Time-based: within four weeks
7. Respond to Customer Questions Immediately
Paul Faust, VP of Business Development, RingBoost.com
Our business — and indeed our brand — is built on being responsive. Just as we recommend our customers use a memorable phone number to increase calls and improve response rates, we must translate that to answering customer questions promptly and efficiently.
That broad objective can be translated into the following SMART goal:
Specific: We will respond to all customer questions immediately and resolve issues within 24 hours of receipt.
Measurable: Calls will be answered within three rings of the line. Support tickets will be closed within 24 hours of being opened by a service rep.
Attainable: We will have sufficient service team members on hand to meet the response and resolution metrics.
Relevant: Improving response rates and connecting with customers is the core of our brand; therefore, we must exemplify that quality to all customers.
Time-based: Response and resolution metrics will be reviewed every month for compliance. If targets are not achieved, we will implement improvement measures that will restore service levels before the next monthly review.
8. Reach 300,000 New Unique Site Visitors Per Month
Melanie Balke, Growth Strategist, BAMF Media
We use SMART goals for work with our clients daily. A great example is when clients try to drive new eyeballs to their website by increasing their website traffic. We would formulate the SMART goal for this objective the following way:
Reach 300,000 new unique site visitors per month by May 31.
S – Specific: The goal defines both what needs to be attained and by when.
M – Measurable: The goal is measurable within Google Analytics.
A – Attainable: The goal is a 20% increase of their current site visits which containing their additional budget ramp up and the three-month time frame is realistic while still being ambitious.
R – Relevant: The goal is to get new eyeballs to the site. We could falsely be measuring sessions or overall site visitors but we would be measuring how many old visitors come back to the site like that as well. Therefore, we want to choose new unique site visitors to single out every new single visitor.
T – Time-bound: We set a period of three months to attain this goal.
9. Add €15K in Billed Revenue
Ahlem Mahroua, Founder, beeHYPE Marketing
I’m a former sales manager at Google and now founder of a digital marketing agency based in Barcelona. I manage a team of four and we use SMART goals on a quarterly basis (I copied the practice from my time at Google).
Here is an example of a SMART goal for a business:
We will add €15K (approximately $18,000) in billed revenue to our business in the second quarter by acquiring five new clients. To acquire five new clients, we will talk to 50 new leads by attending two networking events per week in Barcelona during April, May and June.
10. Complete X Task, Within Y Timeframe to Z Quality
Andrei Vasilescu, CEO and Digital Marketing, DontPayFull
SMART Goal — Small incentives for each task. I break up the tasks into small stages and set certain goals which are basically completing each stage with a certain level of accuracy within the scheduled time. I announce small incentives for the best performance in terms of quality and time to accomplish each target according to my predefined conditions.
These small financial incentives drive the employees to compete among themselves and they automatically pour their best efforts to be the winner of each task. Due to this healthy competition, the quality of the task is enhanced to the finest level, and it is done before the time limit.
11. Create a RAVING Review of Your Customer Service
John Di Lemme, International Speaker and CEO, Giant Goals
Ultimately the No. 1 SMART goal should be:
To create loyalty and a RAVING Review of your customer service experience from your customers, clients, guests, patients and so on.
Because, without that, a business will go out. The success or failure of a business hinges on customer service — the goal each day should be to build and develop rock-solid customer relations which will create raving reviews that will create referrals, which will create revenue and also saves businesses from the burn and churn of being focused on advertising and branding, We know how that worked out for Sports Authority and Toys R’ Us — just to name just a couple of examples.
12. Best Transcriptionists in the World
Benjamin K. Walker, Founder & CEO, Transcription Outsourcing, LLC
We use SMART goals when we are bringing on new people throughout the year. When one of our team leads is bringing on new transcriptionists, they use a system we have refined through the years to ensure the right people end up working for us in the end.
The goal is to have the best transcriptionists in the world working for us so that our clients are happy.
We know it works because if our clients aren’t happy, it is because we didn’t hire the right people.
13. Speaking Engagements One Time Per Month
Melissa Dumaz, MS, LMFT, U Help You
I am a business owner and licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in California. I use SMART goals daily with my business and with my clients.
Here is one of my SMART goals for my business:
I will increase my marketing efforts in doing speaking engagements from two times per year to one time per month during 2018.
14. Keep a Daily Log
Jesse Harrison, CEO, Attorney, Employee Justice Legal Team
I keep a log of my cases with complete notes, such as the amount I won for my client and the feedback the client gave me. It allows me to quantify my results and doesn’t take more than a few minutes at the end of the day to evaluate the log and determine what I need to do for the next day — whether it’s to follow up with a client or meet a quota for new cases.
This goal of keeping a log works because it gives me actual data and details about how effective I am at my job each passing day. Seeing it in front of me drives me to be better tomorrow and the day after that, and it lets me know exactly where I can dedicate more time to.
15. Marketing Contributes to ROI
Jack Saville, Marketer, Bynder
In marketing, we use a number of different types of SMART goals to suit each marketing specialism (for example, SEO, PPC, email marketing and campaigns).
We make sure our SMART goals somehow contribute to the most important KPI for the organization — return on investment.
One common feature is that we focus the goal on the metric that matters most to the organization. In most companies, this will be new revenue. Although marketing may not have full control of the whole process from campaign to sale (such as a sales team could be the final step), focusing the goal in this way helps the marketing team to focus on ROI. This, in turn, helps the team to become more efficient and effective in their marketing activities.
16. Gain X% Market Share Worldwide
Jeff Orens, Retired Global Business Director, Solvay Chemicals
I’ve faithfully employed SMART goals with my teams to align their efforts and focus on achievement of tangible results. When employed diligently, they can be an essential component of a successful business. This is especially true if progress in achieving SMART goals is reviewed periodically by team members and their managers and is tied directly to individual compensation in some manner, such as achieving incentive pay like a bonus.
An important qualifier to any SMART goal is that it needs to be connected to the overall strategy of the business. If it is, successfully achieving it will inevitably help the business achieve its vision. If it isn’t, striving to achieve it will likely lead to confusion and mixed results for the team and the business.
Because the first item of any SMART goal is to be specific, this will lead to different functions in the business developing different SMART goals to support the strategy.
Gain X% market share worldwide in the next Y months.
As an example, if the business strategy is to “Become the worldwide leader in supplying specialty chemicals in the marketplace,“ then a SMART goal for business management could be to “Gain X% market share worldwide in the next Y months” if they are not already the market leader. X and Y will be measures that are judged to be attainable and relevant, depending on the known marketplace dynamics and the product offerings of the business (perhaps a 10 percent growth within 12 months as an example).
This business management SMART goal will be used to drive the sales function to develop SMART goals in different world regions, down to specific customers buying specific products within each region, to support the overall growth strategy. Likewise, it leads the technical function to develop SMART goals on new product offerings that can support the strategy, and it gives the production function direction on developing SMART goals to make enough of each product to support anticipated increased sales or new product manufacturing as the sales function and technical function have planned.
The interdependence of each function in support of the others is vital in this approach, tying the whole organization together to achieve the overarching business goal.
17. Specialize in Health & Wellness Education
Santisha Walker, RN, MSN, CWC, Founder & Co-Owner, Walker Group Health & Wellness
Although this topic may seem somewhat mundane, it’s actually a topic I educate others about quite often. I believe in goal setting, creating plans, scheduling, using a calendar, and so on. Believe it or not, setting goals contribute to one’s total wellness. SMART goal:
By March 1, 2018, promote the relaunch of Walker Group Health & Wellness to current clients, strong prospective clients, solid leads and current social media followers using electronic mail and telephone follow-up, digital flyers and a promotional video to inform of the restructure in services offered and how Walker Group Health & Wellness may assist in reaching their organization’s wellness goals.
This is a good example of the use of a SMART goal because several “moving parts” so to speak had to be considered. Not only did I choose to use the SMART goal model, I also had to communicate this change to all parties involved to ensure they clearly understood the goal.
Whenever I make any adjustment to my company’s business model or a major process within the organization, I must ensure there is an end goal. I don’t believe in randomly making decisions without a goal and a plan on how to achieve that goal. I’ve found that most any goal is achievable when the steps to meeting the goal are planned wisely, including allowing adequate time to carry out the steps.
I recently restructured my company to specialize in health and wellness education solely for companies and organizations. Previously the goal was for my team of professionals to offer their expertise to individuals in search of a wellness lifestyle. With the focus of my company shifting from individuals to groups, I knew I had to take many components of the change into consideration. Before relaunching, I met with my business partner and our team to ensure we were all on the same page regarding the end goal, how we would determine if the goal was met, what the ultimate outcome should reveal and the timeframe needed to meet our goal.
18. Break Into the MarTech Space
Frankie Russo, CEO/President, Potenza Inc.
I want to break into the marketing software or MarTech space. I will measure our progress by how quickly we can develop, in-house, our own software program and by how much that effort grows our revenue. Our goals are to increase annual revenue by 50 percent. I will turn to more experienced mentors and advisers on how and where to start, I will learn what skills are most valuable in developers to help attain our goals, and I will chart our course and monitor progress with what we call our “two-week sprints” and mini-goals.
Adding custom-made marketing software to our service will help gain new clients, retain existing ones and grow our revenue. I had no experience in the software space, so I was kind of winging it, but I wanted to have a minimum viable product (MVP) within four months, and we did just that.
All of our SMART goals come from real issues, either correcting a negative or pursuing new opportunities to better serve our clients or to grow our business, and they all start with something very specific, is measured easily and attainable within our timeframe. Ultimately, the goal is for our employees and our work culture to be evolving constantly.
19. Increase Website Traffic From 500 to 10,000 Visitors
Stacy Caprio, Marketing, SmartBooks Corp, Inc or Accelerated Growth Marketing
My SMART goal for improving one of my website’s traffic is:
Increasing website traffic from 500 to 10,000 visitors per day in one month.
This goal works well for the website I am applying it to because that website’s income is based on ad revenue and increasing the traffic and page views leads to increased revenue. Taking the site visitors from 500 to 10,000 will likely mean a 20 times increase in revenue, which will put my website in the place I want it to be.
20. Increase Website Traffic Through Consistent Blogging
Erika Montgomery, CEO, Three Girls Media, Inc.
I wanted to share a helpful SMART goal we recommend to clients.
Specific: I’ll increase website traffic through consistent blogging.
Measurable: I will install Google Analytics and monitor traffic each month.
Attainable: Each week (on the same day of the week and the same time of day), I’ll publish a new blog post about my industry using relevant keywords.
Relevant: New, quality content on my website each week will make me more visible to search engines.
Time-based: I’ll see a 30% increase in traffic within 12 months.
Setting SMART Performance Goals
Setting SMART goals is a standard part of a successful performance management or business development process. Beyond setting your own goals, you’ll likely need to help your employees keep track of their own. A project management tool like monday.com lets each of your teams set, visualize, and track goals exactly the way they want. Try it free for 14 days.
The Bottom Line
Not having a goal is like hiking without a map or building a boat without a plan. Making your goals SMART ensures that you not only know what you’re going to do but how you’re going to do it.
We hope these 20 examples of SMART goals from smart and savvy business owners, HR professionals, and trainers will help you educate your staff on how to write a SMART goal, or to help you create SMART goals for your business. We encourage you to read more about using SMART goals as part of your performance management process.