Utilizing the SMART goals methodology will help your company achieve its strategic objectives. SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goals. This strategy will focus your team members on the most important objectives for your business, which will help you in achieving them efficiently.
We outlined some SMART goals examples you can use to help you create your own and stay focused on what you’re trying to achieve.
Practical application is the best way to truly understand how SMART goals are utilized in small business today. These examples of SMART goals show you how you might apply the process for your own business.
1. Create a Marketing Plan for a New Business Within 1 Month
When starting a new business, there are plans within plans to make. Creating the marketing plan for the new company is an important SMART goal.
- Specific: We need to create a marketing plan that has a specific outline we can follow to ensure we covered the most important information.
- Measurable: Each week of the month, we will finalize 25% of the plan’s details to ensure completion within one month.
- Achievable: One month should be plenty of time to do all the market research and company analysis required to create a good marketing plan.
- Relevant: Without a solid plan for marketing, the company is missing a crucial component to success.
- Time-bound: The time limit is one month.
2. Pay Off $10,000 in Business Debt Within 30 Months
Setting financial goals is an important step toward gaining control of your business finances. One SMART goal example may be to pay down the company’s debt, thus making more money available for employee pay increases and other projects.
- Specific: Pay off $10,000.
- Measurable: We can measure progress by monitoring our cash accounts as we go, and track how we are doing month to month.
- Achievable: We will achieve this by spending less on growth-goal related items and will work to encourage vendors to pay on time and in full.
- Relevant: We will highlight development and project opportunities throughout the year that can benefit from increased investment once the debt is paid down.
- Time-bound: Within 30 months, we will achieve our objective.
3. Set Up a Remote Sales Networking System Within 7 Days
This scenario became painfully real to many companies in the early months of 2020. Setting SMART goals for transitioning to remote operations at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic was an important part of maintaining an effective sales culture during a very stressful time. This SMART goal example is rooted in a real-world experience that many people faced.
- Specific: Every member of our remote sales team should be connected and operational.
- Measurable: The task is complete when the networking system is operating and our remote workers are able to work.
- Achievable: Although this goal might be ambitious, we can move this to the top of our priority list and temporarily pull in resources from longer-term projects to complete this necessary goal.
- Relevant: Remote work is a good setup even when there’s not a pandemic making it necessary. In 2020, remote networking allowed companies to continue operating. In a post-COVID world, remote networking helps employees be productive and companies achieve results.
- Time-bound: The time limitation for this goal is seven days.
4. Increase New Customer Reviews by 30% Year Over Year
Most companies’ growth these days has to do with the brand awareness your business has in the market. One of your most important goals in brand cultivation is your brand awareness growth throughout the year.
One SMART goal example for this: The number of new customer reviews we get must increase 30% on a year-over-year (YoY) basis.
- Specific: Increase customer reviews by 30%.
- Measurable: We measure our progress through monthly reporting, and it shows if we reach our target or not.
- Achievable: We increased our customer reviews last year by 20%. We believe the 30% target is achievable.
- Relevant: Based on our research to date, an increase in the number of customer reviews corresponds with increased sales in our top growth channels.
- Time-bound: This is a YoY comparison.
5. Ensure All Our Overseas Factory Workers Are Paid a Living Wage Within 3 Months
As consumers become more conscious of where their goods come from, the demand for ethically sourced products increases. If you source your products ethically, you can gain customer loyalty and charge a premium while doing it.
The word “ethical” is vague and can mean many things. Different companies have different standards of ethics that they are able and willing to implement. For example, you might insist that the overseas workers who make your product be paid 25% higher than the average wage for that industry, or that your production lines provide well-paying jobs and valuable job training to women escaping domestic violence. You might also make your manufacturing carbon-neutral by planting trees to offset the carbon emissions produced in creating your products. In this SMART goals example, the specific goal is to vet the working conditions of our overseas factories and ensure that all workers are paid a living wage.
- Specific: We are focused on all our overseas factory workers earning a living wage.
- Measurable: We will request cost of living data from our overseas partners and then evaluate their compliance with our living wage goal or select new partners on a region-by-region basis.
- Achievable: Since we already work with overseas factories, vetting suppliers and choosing new partners based on our updated requirements is an achievable goal.
- Relevant: Many customers base their spending habits on their ethical values. Sourcing our products ethically will help us win loyal customers.
- Time-bound: The goal is to accomplish this within three months.
6. Grow Worldwide Market Share of Our Top-Selling Software at Least 10% by the End of the Year
Growing market share is the goal of most organizations, large or small.
- Specific: We know the geographic area, the product line, and the level of growth (10%) we’re looking for.
- Measurable: We will be able to measure our goal by tracking new customers, growth in new markets, and overall growth in current markets.
- Achievable: We grew, overall, by 8% last year and we feel this increased goal is doable.
- Relevant: Growth in market share often results in higher revenue and more customers, among other benefits.
- Time-bound: We will reach our goal by the end of the year.
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 the period being measured your team can reassess whether or not it was truly “achievable.”
7. Transition IT Support From Contract to In-House in 6 Months
All companies that use computers have to have IT support. Many companies hire IT support companies to take care of their computer needs. As a company grows, it might become more financially beneficial to create an IT department and handle those needs in-house rather than contracting out to a service, as in this SMART goal example.
- Specific: This goal requires adding a new department to the organization structure and staffing it.
- Measurable: This goal is measurable by the existence or non-existence of an IT department. The number of people who will need to be hired is another measurement that will be determined in a sub-goal of this overarching goal because SMART goals can and usually do have additional goals required to make the plan happen.
- Achievable: This is a reasonable timeline for this goal, and we have the resources and expertise to create this department and hire qualified people.
- Relevant: An in-house IT department will save us time and money and make our employees more productive by decreasing technology-related downtime.
- Time-bound: The timeline for this goal is six months.
8. Plan 5 Customer Education Webinars by the Fourth Quarter
A good idea here may be to plan and execute five customer education webinars by the fourth quarter with 15-plus attendees per event and at least 80% highly satisfied or very satisfied responses regarding content.
- Specific: The goal is to plan five webinars.
- Measurable: We will assess the number of attendees in each webinar and distribute and analyze attendee survey results.
- Achievable: The personnel and system resources are available and the need is active.
- Relevant: These webinars will help generate additional customers and/or our brand will establish expertise in the market.
- Time-bound: We will have this completed by the fourth quarter of the current year.
9. Increase Sales Cold Calls by 10% This Year
In many businesses, cold calls are key to sales. Whether you’re doing business-to-business or direct-to-customer sales, if your business model requires you to reach out, then increasing your cold calls can be the key to setting higher sales goals, as demonstrated in this SMART goals example.
- Specific: We want to make 10% more cold calls this year than last year.
- Measurable: It is easy to compare the number of calls made last year to the number of calls made this year.
- Achievable: We can add incentives to push our team to make more calls. If we need to hire more people or move some part-time employees to full-time, we can do that.
- Relevant: If the conversion rate for our calls remains constant, this will increase our overall sales.
- Time-bound: We have until the end of this year to complete this goal.
10. Increase Website Traffic 25% by December 2022
If your website is successful, you already are aware of your overall conversion rates, both in terms of click-throughs from search engines and social media and in terms of sales generated per click-through. Increasing your website traffic will increase your sales, as long as your sales conversion rate remains relatively constant, in this SMART business goals example.
- Specific: To increase the number of visitors that come to our site by 25%.
- Measurable: Increase our annual visitors from 100,000 to 125,000.
- Achievable: Our inbound marketing team has solid social media and content creation strategies in place. We can hire additional experts as needed to increase our visibility and our website traffic.
- Relevant: The more traffic we have, the more money we make and the larger our reach.
- Time-bound: We want to complete this goal by December 2022.
According to the Center for Management & Organization Effectiveness, studies show that goal-setting teams enjoy 20%-25% improved performance. In addition, employees with goals are happier at work, less stressed, and more productive.
How SMART Goals Work
Here’s how each letter in a SMART goal acronym helps you focus your efforts to achieve desired results:
S = Specific
The “S” in a SMART goal stands for “Specificity.”
We all know that it helps us to remember to write down what we want to do, using action words. For example, instead of saying, “I want more clients,” you might say, “I’m going to sign up four new clients within this next quarter.” Being specific and using action verbs focuses you on what exactly you, or your team, needs to do. The key questions that you are asking you or your team are the following:
- What’s the objective?
- What needs to be accomplished?
- Who (what team) is responsible for completing or driving this task or project?
- What steps will you or your team take to achieve it?
In the following SMART goals examples, notice how the goals provide information about what exactly you need to do, even though you still need to outline further tasks and sub-goals to flesh out your plan.
M = Measurable
The “M” in a SMART goal helps you clarify and quantify your efforts so you can “Measure” them.
In the SMART goals example of signing up new clients, we can add the additional note that your goal is to increase, by four, the number of new clients. Although establishing a target may seem obvious, many fail to add this important component to their goal framework. In short, your measurements determine whether or not you achieve your goal.
A = Achievable
The “A” in SMART goals represents the goal’s “Achievability” factor.
This step reminds us to check to make sure the goal is within reach; is it practical? Experienced leaders will tell you that people are motivated by goals that stretch them, as long as they’re not unrealistic. Let’s assume, for example, four new clients is an achievable goal, but the timeline suggested is not. Ensure that you are both ambitious as well as practical.
R = Relevant
The “R” in SMART goals addresses the “Relevance” of the goal.
If your overall business plan calls for increasing profitability, instead of sales, perhaps new customers aren’t your primary goal. Instead of focusing on new customers you may need to focus on retention of existing customers and their profitability per sale transaction, price increases, or reducing production costs. Make sure the goal you set makes sense for you. In the following SMART goals examples, notice how Relevant often means “how will this benefit me?”
T = Time-bound
The “T” in SMART goals references the “Time” aspect of your goal.
Setting a time frame around your goals is essential; it not only identifies the end or conclusion of your goal’s duration, but motivates the identified endeavor. Working to achieve four new customers is fine, but if you don’t set a time frame it could diminish the objective overall as it could take much longer to achieve four customers than desired.
(ADD: Infographic template for SMART goals. Fill in the blank format, with the following entry fields: “S: What SPECIFICALLY do I want to do?” “M: How is this MEASURED?” “A: Is this ACHIEVABLE?” “R: How is this RELEVANT to my business?” “T: How much TIME do I have?”)
Do’s and Don’ts in Setting SMART Goals
Now that you have seen some SMART goals examples, we want to share with you the “do’s and don’ts” of setting SMART goals. This shortlist has examples of what others have done in the past that have impeded their ability to set successful SMART goals and execute on them thoroughly.
As you can see, following a few simple rules and ensuring that your team follows suit will aid you in setting SMART goals that make sense to everyone on the team.
Additional Tips for Setting SMART Goals
There are strategies for getting your team on board with your SMART goals, which will make you more likely to be successful at implementing your goals. Keep these tips in mind while you’re considering your SMART business goals examples.
- Get your team involved. People are more passionate about goals they help create. Have your team brainstorm ideas, and involve them in the process of narrowing and selecting the goals they want to work on.
- Make a plan of action. There should be specific goals for each step of the way. This is like making mini-SMART goals to help you reach your overall SMART goal.
- Write it down. Every team member needs a copy of the plan, with the big goal and the smaller goals. This helps everyone stay on track.
- Evaluate, evaluate, evaluate. After every project, have everyone evaluate their own performance and the team’s performance as a whole. What was the goal? Did you achieve it? What went well? What went wrong? What could you have done better? What did you learn? What specific actions can you take to improve your performance in the future?
- Reassess the goals as needed. As you work on a project, you might find that you need to change your plan, or even adjust your broader SMART goal. Take time to make sure the plan you have is still in alignment with your overall goals and vision.
- Use a performance management system. It can be hard to keep up with all the elements of goal setting and follow-up, especially in a large organization. A performance management system can help you keep track of everything.
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 want to achieve, but how you will get there (as well as a way to measure your progress along the way). We encourage you to read more about using SMART goals as part of your performance management process as well.