Chloe Brown is a business strategist with over a decade of experience building and scaling established companies like Lululemon and WeWork, as well as early-stage ConTech startups. She is the owner of Wildest Dreams, a consulting agency that helps startups and small businesses grow.
How to set goals for success
Setting goals is an essential part of running a successful business. Goals help define what you want to achieve, and they provide a roadmap to help you get there. However, not all goals are created equal. Some are too vague, while others are too ambitious. That’s where SMART goals come in. SMART goals are a simple but effective framework for setting goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based.
SMART goals – what are they and why do you need them in your business?
The “S” in SMART stands for specific. Let’s say you made a goal to get better at making desserts. Well, there’s about a trillion kinds of desserts you can make and some of them are far more complex than others. If you don’t get specific, you run the risk of spreading yourself too thin and never achieving your goal at all, or being unsure if you met the goal. With specific goals, you can stay focused on your priorities as distractions arise.
״With specific goals, you can stay focused on your priorities as distractions arise.״
The “M” in SMART stands for measurable. Many businesses struggle to make their goals measurable enough to objectively evaluate whether the goal was achieved or not. Objectivity is the key here. For instance, suppose you set a goal to make “really good” desserts. Is it based on sales revenue of your desserts, customer reviews, or being featured in a food magazine? Each of these has pros and cons to consider, but choosing something measurable is the key.
The “A” in SMART stands for attainable. Aim for challenging yet achievable goals. This is essential for maintaining motivation throughout the goal period. You can use historical information as a guide – if you have missed your goals by a considerable margin in the last two or three goal-setting periods, you may want to set more realistic goals. Conversely, if you have easily surpassed your goals every period, then aim higher!
“Aim for challenging yet achievable goals. This is essential for maintaining motivation throughout the goal period.”
The “R” in SMART stands for relevant. This is one of the more challenging aspects to get right because it is subjective and company-dependent. Essentially, this point asks, “What are the greatest priorities in my business, and how do I ensure that my goals align with my top priority?” Relevancy becomes very important in larger organizations where different departments may have different priorities. It’s crucial that the leadership team understands each department’s goals and how they align with the company’s overarching priorities.
The “T” in SMART stands for time-based. This is the most straightforward – always have a timeline for when a goal will be met and stick to it. Ensure that your timing aligns with your measurements so that your goal is attainable. The more often you set goals, the better you will get at ensuring they are on a timeline that makes them challenging, yet attainable.