If you sometimes find it difficult to focus your efforts or transform your great ideas into tangible action plans, try the SMART goals approach. This tool has been used by many business management experts since its inception in 1981. It can help you clarify your ideas, use your time and resources effectively, and accomplish more. In short, it’s a great way to start the new year strong.
Pro tip: When you begin to write your SMART goals, start from the top of this list and work your way down.
First, make your broad growth goal specific. Rather than “I want to grow my business”, a specific goal might be “I want to increase my direct-to-customer sales and add new channels”.
Second, make it measurable. “I want to increase my direct-to-customer sales by 10% and add two new sales channels.”
Next, achievable. In many cases, this happens automatically when adding measurability. In our example, “I want to add two new sales channels, not 10”.
Then, make sure your goal is relevant. Is this the right time to grow in these ways? Do you have the structure in place to make it happen? If not, you may adjust to “I want to increase my direct-to-customer sales by 10% and hire someone to assist in defining which two new sales channels are best for business”.
Finally, make it time-bound. “I want to increase my direct-to-customer sales by 10% by this time next year and hire someone in the next three months to assist in defining which two new sales channels are best for business.”
Define your next steps
Once you feel great about your SMART goal, break down the activities and actions you’ll need to accomplish it.
As applied to the above business growth example, you may need to build up inventory before working on the goals that bring a 10% increase in sales. Or you’d need to write a job description for a new position you’re hiring for. When defining what comes next, it’s a good idea to jot down every step you can think of.
Tackling next steps with your team
After working through your SMART goals, you’re ready to define your key partners. Ask yourself: “Who will I need support from to help accomplish my goal?” You could consider buyers, supply chain analysts, marketing support or even friends and family.
Remember, behind every founder is a great team. Take the time to create an accountability routine to keep you focused for the next 12 months. Provide details on actions to take with investors, mentors, partners/vendors, family/friends and more.
When you’re ready, get started on your personalized plan and next steps by completing our goal-setting worksheet. It’ll help you start the new year off right.