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Why Choosing a Free Publisher is a Smart Move for Small Businesses

In today’s digital age, small businesses are constantly searching for cost-effective ways to promote their products or services. One powerful tool that can help them achieve this goal is content marketing. By creating and distributing valuable and engaging content, small businesses can attract and retain customers. However, producing high-quality content requires the use of a reliable publisher. While there are many options available in the market, choosing a free publisher can be a smart move for small businesses. In this article, we will explore the benefits of using a free publisher and why it makes sense for small businesses.

Cost Savings without Compromising Quality

One of the primary advantages of a free publisher is the cost savings it offers to small businesses. Unlike paid publishing platforms that require monthly subscriptions or upfront fees, free publishers allow businesses to create and distribute content at no cost. This is particularly beneficial for startups and small companies with limited budgets.

Despite being free of charge, many free publishers offer an impressive range of features that rival their paid counterparts. These platforms often provide access to user-friendly interfaces, customizable templates, and advanced editing tools that enable businesses to create professional-looking content without needing extensive design or technical skills.

Easy Accessibility and User-Friendly Interface

Another significant benefit of choosing a free publisher is its easy accessibility and user-friendly interface. Most free publishing platforms are web-based applications that can be accessed from any device with an internet connection. This flexibility allows business owners or content creators to work on their projects from anywhere at any time.

Furthermore, free publishers typically have intuitive interfaces designed with simplicity in mind. They offer drag-and-drop functionality, pre-designed templates, and easy-to-use editing tools that streamline the content creation process. This means even individuals with limited technical knowledge can quickly get started with producing high-quality articles or blog posts.

Wide Distribution Channels

One common misconception about using free publishers is that they limit the distribution of content. However, many free publishers provide a wide range of distribution channels that help small businesses reach a larger audience. These platforms often integrate with social media networks, allowing businesses to automatically share their content across multiple platforms with just a few clicks.

Additionally, some free publishers offer built-in SEO optimization tools that can help businesses improve their search engine rankings. By optimizing content for relevant keywords and ensuring proper formatting and meta tags, small businesses can increase their online visibility and attract more organic traffic to their website.

Community Support and Collaboration

Lastly, free publishing platforms often foster a sense of community among users. They provide forums or discussion boards where content creators can seek advice, share ideas, and collaborate with like-minded individuals. This community support can be invaluable for small business owners who are looking to learn from others’ experiences and expand their knowledge in content marketing.

Furthermore, some free publishers offer features that allow multiple users to collaborate on the same project simultaneously. This is particularly useful for small teams or freelancers who need to work together on creating content. With real-time editing capabilities and version control systems, these platforms enable efficient collaboration between team members regardless of their physical location.

In conclusion, choosing a free publisher is a smart move for small businesses looking to enhance their content marketing efforts without breaking the bank. The cost savings, easy accessibility, wide distribution channels, and community support provided by free publishers make them an attractive option for startups and small companies aiming to create engaging content that resonates with their target audience. So why spend unnecessary resources when you can leverage the power of a free publisher? Start exploring the available options today and take your content marketing strategy to new heights.

This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.


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What's Your Question?

What Are SMART Goals?

When you have goals, it’s a helpful way of staying on track, maintaining focus and building a career. Each time you define your objectives and create a path for meeting them, you’ll have a better chance of using your time wisely. Use these guidelines for achieving your SMART goals.

SMART: S Is for Specific

When you’re developing SMART goals, the “S” means you’re being as specific and clear as possible regarding your achievements. For example, instead of saying, “I want to hold a leadership role,” your goal would be, “I want to earn a leadership position as a manager of a design team for a startup web design company.” Because you’re narrowing your goal, it’s easier to develop steps toward achievement.

SMART: M Is for Measurable

How are you measuring the progress you’re making toward achieving your goals? For example, if your goal is to earn a leadership position managing a design team, you could be measuring the number of applications you’ve sent out, as well as interviews you’ve attended. By setting up milestones, you present yourself with opportunities for re-evaluating your progress and making any corrections if necessary.

SMART: A Is for Achievable

Are you setting goals that are achievable? If you’re setting goals that are possible to achieve within a reasonable time-frame, then you have a better chance of maintaining focus and motivation. Referring back to the example for earning a leadership position managing a design team, you should have a firm understanding of the experience, skills and credentials necessary to earn that position. Before attempting to work toward that goal, you must determine if it’s achievable now or if you must complete additional steps first.

SMART: R Is for Relevant

It’s essential that you’re setting goals that are relevant for yourself. All of the goals you’re setting should be aligning with your values, as well as your long-term goals. Consider rethinking your goals if they don’t contribute toward your broader objectives. Ask yourself how these goals will help you, how important they are to you and how they’ll aid in contributing toward your long-term life goals.

SMART: T Is for Time-Based

Have you set a time-frame for you goal? Creating an end-date could potentially help you prioritize and maintain motivation. For example, if you would like to achieve a senior leadership position on the design team, you could create a six-month end-date. Take into consideration why you may not have achieved that goal if the end-date arrives and it’s not met. Your goal may have been un-achievable, your end-date may have been unrealistic or you have run into unexpected roadblocks.


business plan smart goals

Human Resources | Tip List

10 SMART Goals Examples for Small Businesses in 2023 (+ Free Template)

Published January 23, 2023

Published Jan 23, 2023

Rebecca Michael

WRITTEN BY: Rebecca Michael

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 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.

Check out our guides to writing a marketing plan and creating an effective blog content strategy for additional information on SMART marketing goals.

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.

Did You Know?

SMART goals actually do work. According to a study by Dominican University , 76% of people that recorded their goals, created actionable steps to do and reported on them weekly to another person achieved their goals. This is 33% better than those who didn’t write down their goals.

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 2023

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 2023.

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.

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 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.

About the Author

Rebecca Michael

Find Rebecca On LinkedIn

Rebecca Michael

Rebecca Michael has more than 15 years of experience in publishing and digital media. She previously served as a Head of Content and Editor-in-Chief for a large digital marketing company specializing in content strategies for small businesses. Rebecca has over 20 years of writing experience in online TV, blogs, and news sites. She is the Director of Content for Fit Small Business and The Close , where she’s developed topic teams of excellence that deliver high-quality content to our readers.

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Setting SMART Goals for Your Small Business

With goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely, you can take the steps needed for long‑term success.

With goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely, you can take the steps needed for long-term success.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration , only about half of new small businesses survive for 5 years, and only one-third make it to 10 years. To stand the test of time, it’s important to set goals for your business that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely—in other words, goals that are SMART.

Small businesses tend to interact with their audience more directly, and on fewer fronts than corporations. Although you may have fewer resources, small businesses have many advantages if used wisely. Creating SMART goals to connect with your audience can make all the difference.

What are SMART goals?

The SMART acronym stands for goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely. The SMART goal system is impactful for business marketing strategies, project management and overall growth, because it encourages you to look into your market and evaluate how your business stacks up. It provides a model to identify strengths, track progress and room for improvement.

Here’s a more detailed SMART goals definition:

business plan smart goals

Having a clear, specific outcome in mind is key to making a SMART goal. Making a specific goal means that you can narrow your focus—whether this is on marketing, data collection, sales, or customer relationship management—and get a concise picture of exactly what you want to achieve and thus, what steps you should take to accomplish this goal.

When you set goals, it’s important to make sure you know what metrics you will use to evaluate whether and when you’ve met your goal.

Measurable goals and objectives can be quantitative, like how many returns or outputs you receive or produce; or they can be qualitative, based on the quality of those same returns or outputs.

It’s important to prioritize achievability when you set business goals. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t dream big, but a goal that you can take feasible steps towards will tell you more about the nature of your business, the way you run it, your customers, and the goal itself, rather than working towards something outside your capacity. By defining achievable goals, you’re also allowing yourself to experiment with what works best for reaching this goal, based on your measurements.

Relevancy, in the case of SMART business goals, refers to the pertinent characteristics of your business. Most businesses want to attract a bigger audience and increase their revenue, of course, but relevant goals help you identify what you will do specifically to grow your business.

If you run an online magazine, for example, a relevant and timebound goal is to increase the number of monthly subscribers by 25% this quarter. Subscribers are relevant to the success of your business, and thus the goal meets SMART criteria.

Having a timeframe for when you want to achieve your goal makes the process of planning and executing clearer and more organized. A deadline can be a powerful motivator, and it will help your team work together towards a clear finish line and better time management. Plus, working towards timely goals can give you insight into a certain time of year or the seasonality of your business, which might inform future goals.

Why are SMART Goals Important?

Why is being SMART important, and where does it factor into your small business plan ? SMART goals enable small business owners to take actionable steps towards improvement, measure outcomes, and ultimately achieve scalable success.

business plan smart goals

Vague goals (like, “Find more customers”), can leave you at a loss when it comes to implementing changes to your current marketing campaigns or business models. Vague goals can also leave business owners feeling over-extended without a clear focus, or unsatisfied without substantial evidence of achievement.

Actionable, achievable goals that are relevant, timebound, and have measurable outcomes are crucial for surviving the inception years of your new business. They can lead to sustainable growth and innovation throughout the life of your company or your career development.

How to set SMART goals

You can start writing your own SMART goals in a few ways:

business plan smart goals

  • Use the SMART acronym as an outline. Write down a goal, then break down how the goal is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely. Provide details about your goal for each letter in the acronym. You can use a list format, a flow chart, or an outline—whatever keeps your thoughts organized and helps in reaching this goal.
  • Use a past/present/future question model. Ask yourself questions like: What have I already done? What is the current outcome? Where do I want to be at the end of this month/quarter/year? Although this model prompts you to look to the future, make sure to keep the goal timely and focused.
  • Use marketing software data. Marketing software can provide a foundation to set SMART goals. By collecting your current campaign reports and analytics all in one place, you can start writing your SMART goals based on the quantitative data you’ve already collected. Remember, the data itself is only a starting point; its usefulness is determined by what you do with it.

Use this SMART goal framework that will help you to define a better action plan with the steps you'll need to take, resources necessary to get there and milestones to track progress along the way. With SMART goals, you're more likely to achieve your goal efficiently and effectively.

SMART goal examples

What is a SMART goal? Let’s imagine a small business with the impressive goal of becoming completely carbon neutral or reaching net zero emissions. The goal is laudable, but how will the company achieve it? One step toward that objective might feature the SMART goal of switching 50% of plastic packaging materials to compostable packaging materials by the end of the quarter.

The goal is actionable and brings the company closer to its overall goal of operating as a carbon-neutral entity. Compostable packaging alone won’t get the company to complete carbon-neutral status. Still, it will help get the company closer to that end goal, and it’s an excellent selling point on the company website and sales literature.

Below we’ve listed a few more examples where we take some common small business goals and make them SMART:

  • “Build more customers” vs. “Secure 6 new business accounts before the end of the quarter.” Six is specific, securing new accounts is relevant to the ultimate goal of the business, having a quantitative goal correlates to measurable success, it’s small enough to be achievable, and “end of the quarter” is timely.
  • “Make more profits” vs. “Increase revenue 10% each quarter until the end of the fiscal year.” 10% is a specific, measurable amount that’s relevant to the goal of increasing overall profits. It puts “increase revenue” into achievable terms, and using quarters of the fiscal year is a timely measurement.
  • “Be more present online” vs. “Increase unique blog views by increasing social media marketing content over the next month.” Unique views are a specific audience metric that is captured by your website or marketing platform, increasing social media marketing is measurable quantitatively, and it’s an achievable, actionable item, while “over the next month” is timely.

SMART business goals are about building focus, deepening relationships with your audience, achieving your goals and improving your strategies as you grow. By using the SMART framework, you can improve your business operations, project management and start achieving the goals that matter most.

You can also write SMART goals for personal use, whether you want to improve your career development or achieve goals outside of your professional life. Using the SMART goal framework can organize the process and provide structure before you begin any projects for your small business.

Start setting SMART goals with Mailchimp

Mailchimp helps your company manage customer relationships , generate leads , and grow your small business with an all-in-one marketing platform for email campaigns, content management, and data analysis. Create and achieve your SMART goals by leveraging marketing tools from Mailchimp.

Frequently asked questions

When should i set smart goals.

SMART goals are best set when the company aims to achieve a particular objective or milestone. By taking advantage of SMART goal setting from the get-go, your company can increase productivity, increase profits, and improve client or employee retention.

What is the value of creating SMART goals?

SMART goals take the vagueness out of company operations and help the organization reach its yearly goals with precision. SMART goals can improve resource allocation, time management, and employee morale.

SMART goals help business owners figure out where their teams are succeeding or when they need additional guidance. Grow your small business using achievable SMART goals that will add up to greater success over time.

What are good SMART goals?

In order to set good SMART goals, you must determine what you hope to achieve in the long run, either as an organization or professional.

Learning how to write SMART goals requires creating goals that meet every letter of the acronym. Below are some SMART goal examples that you can use as inspiration:

  • Grow the company Instagram page by gaining 100 followers over the next 6 months.
  • Find a qualified graphic design intern by the end of the quarter by creating job listings on at least three unique career sites.
  • Strengthen the sales team by ensuring that at least 80% of salespeople in your organization complete an inbound sales training by the end of the quarter.

Related Topics

  • Partnerships
  • Team Dynamics
  • Lead & Manage
  • Create Multichannel Campaigns
  • Navigate Crisis
  • Search Search Please fill out this field.
  • Building Your Business
  • Becoming an Owner

SMART Goal Examples

Alyssa Gregory is an entrepreneur, writer, and marketer with 20 years of experience in the business world. She is the founder of the Small Business Bonfire, a community for entrepreneurs, and has authored more than 2,500 articles for The Balance and other popular small business websites.

business plan smart goals

The Balance/Alison Czinkota

SMART goal setting , which stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Based, is an effective process for setting and achieving your business goals.   Applying the SMART grid to your goals will help you to create more specific, achievable targets for your business, and to measure your progress toward them.

Below are several examples of broad objectives that are reframed as specific, SMART goals. As you review the sample SMART goals, notice how each example outlines several subgoals, or specific actions, that need to take place in order to accomplish the overall goal. SMART criteria can also be applied to each of those smaller goals in the same way as shown here.

Broad Goal Example: I Want to Start a Business

  • Specific : I will sell handmade cards through Etsy.com.
  • Measurable : I will be ready to take my first Etsy order within four weeks, and I will aim to sell a minimum of five cards per week.
  • Attainable : I will get set up on Etsy first. Then I will build an inventory of 30 handmade cards to sell. Finally, I will promote my business and build customer relationships through word of mouth, referrals, and local networking.
  • Relevant : Selling handmade cards will allow me to benefit financially from my favorite hobby.
  • Time-Based : My Etsy store will be up and running within four weeks, and I will have an inventory of 30 cards to sell within six weeks.  

Within a month, I am going to get set up to sell handmade cards on Etsy, which will allow me to benefit financially from my favorite hobby. Within six weeks, I will have an inventory of 30 handmade cards to sell and aim to sell a minimum of five cards per week, building customer relationships through word of mouth, referrals, and local networking.

Broad Goal Example: I Want to Grow My Business

  • Specific : I will acquire three new clients for my consulting business.
  • Measurable : I will measure my progress by how many new clients I bring on while maintaining my current client base.
  • Attainable : I will ask current clients for referrals, launch a social media marketing campaign and network with local businesses.
  • Relevant : Adding additional clients to my business will allow me to grow my business and increase my revenue.
  • Time-Based : I will have three new clients within two months.

I will acquire three new clients for my consulting business within two months by asking for referrals, launching a social media marketing campaign, and networking with local businesses. This will allow me to grow my business and increase my revenue.

Broad Goal Example: I Want to Write a Business Book

  • Specific : I will write a book about social media that is a minimum of 150 pages.
  • Measurable : I will write one chapter per month or three to five pages per week.
  • Attainable : I will work on the manuscript first, and once that is completed, I will begin to search for a publisher or explore self-publishing.
  • Relevant : Writing a book on social media will help me establish myself as an expert.
  • Time-Based : My manuscript will be completed and ready to be published in 10 months.

In order to establish myself as an expert, I will write a 150-page book on social media by writing one chapter per month (or three to five pages per week). The book will be completed in 10 months, and then I will search for a publisher or explore self-publishing.

Broad Goal Example: I Want to Become a Well-Known Expert

  • Specific : I will become a well-known expert on the topic of small-business accounting.
  • Measurable : I will be successful if I am asked to speak publicly on the topic at least once a month, receive interview requests every week, and write one article per month for a top industry publication.
  • Attainable : I will accomplish this by acquiring the services of a PR or publicity firm and launching a publicity campaign.
  • Relevant : Establishing myself as a small business accounting expert will reinforce my 20+ years of experience in the field and allow me to reach more small-business owners who need accounting advice.
  • Time-Based : I want to be considered a small business accounting expert in two years.

I will acquire the services of a PR or publicity firm and launch a publicity campaign that will help establish me as a well-known expert in small business accounting who is asked to speak publicly on the topic at least once a month, receives interview requests every week, and writes one article per month for a top industry publication. This will reinforce my 20-plus years of experience in the field and allow me to reach more small business owners who need accounting advice.

Indeed.com. " SMART Goals: Definition and Examples ." Accessed May 11, 2020.

Corporate Finance Institute. " SMART Goal ." Accessed May 11, 2020.

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smart goal examples

5 SMART Goal Example For Business Development

A smart goal is basically what the acronyms from the name suggest. It is specific, measurable, attainable, and relevant and time bound. The Smart Goal process provides a frame where you can create a long term goal. It also provides a time limit for you to work on the same goal. By doing this business’ are 70% more successful in achieving their goals thanks to regular check-ins, updates and group accountability. Below are a few smart goal examples for business development that will help you understand the system better and enhance your business.

Smart Goal Examples for Business

  • “I Want To Increase My Profits”
  • “I Want To Improve My Response Time to Customer Complaints”
  • “I Want To Improve My Employee Retention”
  • “I Want To Be More Efficient In My Business Operations”
  • “I Want To Grow My Business Operation”

“I Want To Increase My Profits”

smart goal examples

Measurable: I will increase sales over the next 3 months by signing in 5 more potential clients.

Attainable: I will improve my current customer relationships and promote the business through referrals, networking and through social networks. This will help me find more leads and therefore see to an increase in revenue for the business.

Relevant: moving to a cheaper establishment will reduce the operational cost of my business and therefore give room to the growth of profits.

Time-bound: I will have increased my profit by the end of the coming three months.

“I Want To Improve My Response Time to Customer Complaints”

smart goal examples

Measurable: the increase in customer service staff is scheduled to take place within one year. It should bring the number to a total of 8.

Attainable: as I plan on moving to a new establishment I will ensure the place has enough room to accommodate the additional staff members I intend to have in the next one year.

Relevant: I will find ways to manage the complaints meanwhile in order to maintain the customer base I have and strive to grow the client base even further to match the additional customer service staff.

Time-bound: I will have hired the customer service staff by the end of one year

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“i want to improve my employee retention”.

smart goal examples

Measurable: the improvement in employee turnover is scheduled to be by about 15% and should take place within 90 days.

Attainable: trainings and one-on-one meetings will ensure the employees are prepared for what is expected of them when they get into production. It also give me a hint of what’s on their mind concerning general operations of the business.

Relevant: outstanding employees will be put up for a reward system. For the ones that might be having a difficult time, there will be motivation trainings for encouragement.

Time-bound: employee turnover will have improved within 90 days

“I Want To Be More Efficient In My Business Operations”

smart goal examples

Measurable: the sales people are supposed to increase their closing ratio from 45% to 60% and the delivery time improved to 12 hours from the initial 72hours

Attainable: I will conduct a survey to find out what both the clients and the sales team think about the idea. I will implement it as soon as the idea passes as valid.

Relevant: increasing the number of motorbikes and pickups that will do courier services for us will help make the plan a success

Time-bound: this should happen in one year.

“I Want To Grow My Business Operation”

business plan smart goals

Measurable: the objective is to increase operations and revenue for the business. This will, in turn, facilitate the growth to three more branches.

Attainable: increasing my current selling space by 25% will mean more production. This can help me save for the planned growth to 4 branches countrywide.

Relevant: increasing production, operations and revenue will mean a larger client base thus the need for more branches will not be a wasteful idea after all.

Time-bound: establishing the branches should be within the next five years.

How Smart Goals Should Align With Your Business Goals

As much as an organization will work to ensure that its business goals are smart, they will never be flawless. It is, however, essential to ensure they give their teams tasks within their capability and make decisions using accurate data from their past operations while setting new smart business goals. The rest will work out just fine.

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5 Tips for Setting SMART Goals in Your Business Plan

Table of contents.

business plan smart goals

Goals and dreams have important differences. Dreams are wishes and fantasies; for example, many of us long to be rich, famous, more successful, happier and healthier. Goals put your dreams on a deadline and require actionable steps toward achievement. 

As with personal goals, you have a greater chance of achieving business goals when you work within a structure that sets you up for success. We’ll explore the SMART goals system and how you can apply this goal-achievement method to your business. 

What are SMART goals?

SMART is an acronym for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based. The SMART goals framework is a way to stay on target and achieve your goals more systematically. The process includes the following components:

  • Making your goal specific
  • Quantifying your goal 
  • Ensuring your goal is attainable, reasonable and realistic
  • Hitching your goal to a deadline

Why use SMART goals?

SMART goals allow you to chart a course and stay organized when reaching personal or professional goals. You’re more likely to succeed because you’re less likely to get overwhelmed and abandon your goal entirely. 

In a business setting particularly, SMART goals provide teams with clarity, structure and guidelines. Business goals can involve cost-cutting measures , marketing initiatives, sales increases and much more. 

With SMART goals, you and your team know what success in each endeavor means and how to measure it within a project’s framework. Everyone knows the steps they must take to reach the goals. With ambiguity gone and a direction mapped, SMART goals set up your team for success.  

Goal-setting and tracking tools and apps can help your team get on the same page and accomplish company objectives.

How to incorporate SMART goals into your business plan

We’ll take a closer look at each SMART goal element and offer implementation examples you can apply to your business. 

1. Make goals specific.

A specific goal clearly states what is to be achieved, by whom , where and when it is to be achieved (and sometimes why ).

For example, let’s say you’re a wedding planner. Here’s how a non-SMART goal compares with a SMART goal in specificity: 

  • Example of a non-SMART goal: Market my business in Toronto.
  • Example of a SMART goal: Start a monthly networking group for women on event planning in Toronto. Set a monthly attendance goal of 20 women, with two attendees per month signing up for my “How to plan your wedding without stress” workshop.

Some entrepreneurs may question whether a business plan is even needed. Past research has shown that only one-third of entrepreneurs spend time writing a business plan. However, our b. newsletter team spoke to many entrepreneurs who said the time it takes to write a business plan is well worth it. You can read more about their reasonings why here. For additional advice on starting and growing a business, subscribe to our b. newsletter . It is delivered straight to your inbox every Tuesday and Friday.

2. Make goals measurable.

Measuring your goal means evaluating the end results and the milestones you’ll need to hit on the way. When you measure, you assess if you’re on the right track toward achieving your goal by asking these questions:

For example, let’s say your goal is to reach sales of $96,000 per year. To measure your goal, you could take the following actions:

  • You set a milestone target of $8,000 in sales each month. 
  • You create a process that focuses on achieving $8,000 per month (adding up to $96,000 for the year). 
  • You reason that it’s easier to attain an $8,000-per-month goal because there are many ways to get to this goal and it’s less stressful to think in smaller amounts.

Measuring draws your focus, helping you boost your odds of achieving your goal. One good way to measure is to have a dashboard arranged by month. For example, you could use a chart like this:

3. Make goals attainable.

When you set goals, ensure they’re achievable. If you believe you can reach the goal, it’s more likely you’ll get there. It’s a mistake to set unreachable goals, because you’re setting yourself up for failure from the beginning. Additionally, don’t let others set your goals.

Setting attainable goals is also essential for team goal setting and can boost employee engagement . If you set unrealistic goals for your team, your team members won’t fully engage in the project. They need to be fully on board for the project to succeed. Everyone on the team should share in the goal setting so they own the goal and know it’s attainable. 

Consider setting performance goals tied to an incentive so that your team operates with a sense of urgency on a crucial project.

4. Make goals relevant.

Goals tend to fall into two categories: short-term and long-term. It’s essential to understand how both goal types fit your organizational or personal vision, mission and purpose.

It’s tempting to set a goal because it’s easy or sounds great, only to find out later that it has no long-term importance in what you want to achieve as an individual or an organization.

5. Make goals time-based.

Setting a deadline attaches a time frame to your goals. A deadline can be an excellent motivator. For example, let’s say you want to run a marathon in a year. A time-based goal would look something like this:

  • Run twice a week for three months, gradually increasing your distance.
  • Run three times a week for three months, gradually increasing your distance.
  • Be ready for a half-marathon by the six-month mark. 
  • Increase your frequency and distance over the next six months. 
  • Be ready for the marathon in 12 months. 

Time-based goals help you avoid procrastination because your process offers incentives as you meet smaller achievements along the way. 

If you’re interested in tracking employee performance, check out employee performance measuring tools such as Basecamp, DeskTime and Trello.

How to identify and reach your goals

It’s crucial to set a goal that matches your personal or professional vision. After you set the goal, focus on a process that makes your goal achievable. Here are some steps to follow:

1. Identify your goal.

If you are unable to set a SMART goal, it’s usually because you need to clarify exactly what you want to accomplish within a set time period. It’s inadvisable to skip the process of SMART goal setting and just “go for it.” You have a greater chance of success when you analyze your goals and match them to your vision.

To save time, prevent disappointment and avoid costly mistakes, perform the following exercise when implementing SMART goals.

What are your goals? Writing down your goals helps to clarify your thinking. Can you stretch yourself both personally and in your business by setting three goals in each area?

2. Focus on the system.

Once you’ve set a goal, find a way to develop a system to achieve that goal. For example, if you want to write a book in one year and you’re not an author, you may feel overwhelmed. 

Instead, try writing 250 words per day. Don’t agonize over what you are writing – just write. At that rate, if you write five days per week (260 days per year), you will have 65,000 words in a year, or approximately a 250-page paperback.

Business goals work the same way. Set the goal, and then find a system to help you reach that goal. For example, when setting a sales goal, you may want to focus on consistently achieving 10 quotes per month with a 50% success rate. 

Leah Zitter contributed to the writing and research in this article. 


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5 Dos and Don'ts When Making a SMART Goal [+Examples]

Clifford Chi

Published: June 09, 2023

Every year I create vague New Year's resolutions, but this year I decided to try something different.

SMART goals graphic with a woman holding a compass for direction, pens for writing goals, clock to time-bound, and chess pieces for strategy.

Using the SMART goal framework (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound), I reworded my 2023 goal from "read more books" to "read two books per month to hit my goal of reading 24 before the end of the year."

The SMART framework is an effective strategy for creating more specific and attainable goals. Plus, it provides benchmarks against which you can measure your progress — if you have a larger, more daunting goal, smaller steps can help you remain motivated.

Here, let's explore what SMART goals are, why they're important, and how to make your own.

Download your free marketing goal-setting template here. 

  • What are SMART Goals?
  • Why Are SMART Goals Important?

SMART Goal Examples

  • How to Make a SMART Goal

Download this Template for Free

In the working world, the influence of SMART goals continues to grow. The reason why successful marketing teams always hit their numbers is that they also set SMART goals. Use the template above to follow along and create your own SMART goals.

What are SMART goals?

SMART goals are concrete targets that you aim to hit over a certain period. These goals should be carefully drafted by a manager and their direct report to set them up for success. "SMART" is an acronym that describes the most important characteristics of each goal.

"SMART" stands for "specific," "measurable," "attainable," "relevant," and "time-bound." Each SMART goal should have these five characteristics to ensure the goal can be reached and benefits the employee. Find out what each characteristic means below, and how to write a SMART goal that exemplifies them.

SMART Goal Acronym

Most trace the SMART acronym back to a 1981 paper by George Doran, " There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management goals and objectives ." His colleagues Arthur Miller and James Cunningham are also credited for their work on this paper.

The "Objectives" section of this paper asks "How do you write meaningful objectives?" Then goes on to define the SMART acronym as the following:

  • Specific — target a specific area for improvement.
  • Measurable — quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.
  • Assignable — specify who will do it.
  • Realistic — state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
  • Time-related — specify when the result(s) can be achieved.

The meaning of each letter in this acronym can shift based on the user and how they want to apply this framework to their business. You can see the most popular terms and their best-known alternatives below:

SMART goals acronym

Image Source

The paper also says that not every goal will need to meet all five criteria. Instead, the goal was to use this acronym to create a benchmark for management excellence.

But today, the SMART acronym usually looks like this:

Measurable goals: Smart goals

SMART goals are:

This framework continues to be useful because it's easy to remember and can help streamline the goal-setting process.

Let's talk more about each part of the SMART acronym and how you can apply this as you create measurable goals for yourself and your team.

S — Specific

Specific goals are clear and include precise details. Specificity makes your goal easy to understand and carry out.

To check if your goal is specific, ask more than one person to review your goal and rephrase what you are trying to do. If your proofreaders come up with more than one idea of your final goal, it isn't specific enough.

M — Measurable

Measurable goals are targets that you can calculate and track over time. Goals that include a set measurement or metric are more concrete than anecdotal goals or plans based on someone’s opinion.

Measurable goals give you and your team a chance to track progress toward a goal and make changes over time. It also gives you a clear and specific picture of success.

To figure out how to make your goal measurable, look closely at your ultimate goal. Ask yourself:

  • How can we control this goal?
  • Is this goal clear and actionable?
  • Is there anything subjective about this goal?

Then, choose the metrics that most directly connect to your final goal. If you're not sure which metrics to choose, this guide to KPIs can help you get started.

A — Attainable

Attainable goals are challenging but achievable. This aspect of goal-setting should consider the unique qualities of your team well as the problems and blockers you work on together.

To set ambitious but attainable goals, start by thinking big . Create a list where you imagine the best possible outcomes. Take a break for a day or two, then come back and edit your list with every question, challenge, and critique you can think of.

Goals that are too easy to meet won't motivate your team or lead to growth. But goals that are unrealistic can demoralize your team and strain resources. It's important to find the right balance.

R — Relevant

Relevant goals support the mission, vision, and priorities of your business.

To make sure your SMART goals connect to your business goals, start the goal and objective-setting process with a quick review.

Read through your company's mission and vision statements , or print and post them on the wall in a shared space. Then review quarterly business reports, recent memos, or any recent communication about business goals. This will mean you start the process with what's relevant at the top of your mind.

After you draft your SMART goals, do another quick scan of these documents and review your goals for relevance.

It's easy to get excited about a new idea, even if it doesn't align with company priorities. But the best ideas will support your most essential business goals.

T — Time-Bound

Time-bound goals have a specific deadline or timeframe. Adding a time constraint to your goal creates a sense of urgency.

Urgency combines importance with a need for action. This is sometimes because there's a fear of consequences. Other times employees feel it because they're eager to prepare for the future or meet an exciting goal.

Time constraints are important to your goal-setting process. This is because tasks that are time-sensitive often feel more important than tasks without a timeframe attached. This means that, no matter how essential a project is, it will drop in priority without a deadline.

Luckily, it's easy to create a feeling of urgency. Just add a realistic timeframe to your goal . Time-bound goals also set clear expectations for stakeholders, which improves communication.

Why are SMART goals important?

SMART goals are important to set as they:

  • Help you work with clear intentions, not broad or vague goals
  • Provide a method to gauge your success by setting benchmarks to meet
  • Give sensible objectives that are realistic and achievable
  • Cut out unnecessary or irrelevant work that could take away from what’s important
  • Set a clear beginning and end to adhere to in reaching your goals

When you make goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound, you're increasing your odds for success by verifying that the goal is achievable, identifying the metrics that define success, and creating a roadmap to reach those metrics.

If your goals are abstract, if you don't know what it will take to achieve success, or if you don't give yourself a deadline to complete steps, you may lose focus and fall short of what you want to accomplish.

Do SMART goals actually work?

In short — yes, if done correctly .

For instance, one study found 76% of participants who wrote down their goals, made a list of goal-driven actions, and provided weekly progress reports to a friend achieved their goals — which is 33% higher than those with unwritten goals.

Additionally, I polled roughly 300 participants in the U.S. and found 52% believe SMART goals help them achieve their goals more often than if they didn't use a SMART framework.

SMART goals statistic showing people believe SMART goals work

Setting unrealistic goals and trying to measure them without consideration of previous performance, overly short time frames, or including too many variables will lead you off course.

However, these goals work only if formulated properly and if they take into account the motive and cadence of those working on them. Additionally, your SMART goals can only succeed when the employees working towards them have the means to achieve them.

Benefits of SMART Goals

Offer focus and clarity.

The process of goal completion is often more complicated than it seems. Distractions, side tasks, and other projects can all steer you away from completing your projects.

But SMART goals improve focus because they simplify your to-do list of tasks. At the same time, they offer an immediate reminder of why those specific tasks are important.

Boost Motivation

It's not unusual to experience stress or overwhelm in the workplace. One contributor is often a lack of clear goals. And that combination can make a serious impact on your motivation.

But a SMART goal can boost energy, improve direction, and motivate you and your team because:

  • It gets everyone more involved in the process
  • It helps employees understand why their work is important
  • It offers a new challenge and direction for people who are feeling stuck

Improve Accountability

Fear of failure often stops people from doing their best work. To avoid this stressor, you might avoid making a commitment in the workplace.

But accountability is an essential for high-growth teams. It helps you and your team engage, take ownership of their work, and take responsibility for progress.

SMART goals improve accountability because they give teams and managers a simple way to track progress toward shared objectives. This makes it easier for teams to understand the learning, coaching, and feedback they need to optimize performance.

SMART goals also help teams manage and plan their time more effectively. They make it easier to prioritize tasks too.

Strengthen Communication

According to 2023 data from Project.co , 68% of businesspeople have wasted time due to communication issues. And only 7% of businesses rate their communication as "excellent." Clearly, effective communication is both difficult and essential to any business.

SMART goals help with effective communication. This is because they're goals that multiple coworkers, teams, and departments can quickly understand. This improves knowledge-sharing, collaborative efforts, and communication.

Help Manage Resources

Proper resource management can reduce costs, make processes more efficient, and increase productivity. But managing resources is tough.

Put simply, a business is a group of people, each with distinct knowledge and experience, working toward individual goals. These individual goals eventually come together to meet common goals, but in the process, things can get a little wonky.

But SMART goals are great for resource management. This is because they offer a structure that makes it easier for teams to see where a process is creating blocks or challenges. This helps teams understand when priorities and resources are out of sync. It also creates a shared purpose that can inspire people to make necessary but difficult changes.

Increase Innovation

Innovation is a process that combines creativity and problem-solving skills to get original ideas. You may have heard the common belief says that creativity requires a lack of boundaries. And some critiques of SMART goals say that they can have negative impacts if goal-setting is too rigid or narrowly defined.

But there's extensive data, including this research from Harvard Business Review , that says constraints often positively impact innovation. SMART goals boost innovation because they create motivational challenges. The motivation comes in part from the constraints teams need to work within.

Enhance Performance

For managers, SMART goals offer a useful framework for improving employee performance. They make progress toward project goals clear. This goal-setting framework can also apply to long-term personal goals for each member of your team.

For individuals, SMART goals can make it easier to balance and track work projects. They can boost performance because they help you:

  • Measure progress
  • Identify strengths and weaknesses
  • Build positive momentum

Setting and working toward SMART goals can also help you develop new behaviors that can improve performance.

Let’s take a look at some realistic examples of SMART goals to paint a clearer picture of what they are.

  • Blog Traffic Goal
  • Facebook Video Views Goal
  • Email Subscription Goal
  • Webinar Sign-Up Goal
  • Landing Page Performance Goal
  • Link-Building Strategy Goal
  • Reduce Churn Rate Goal
  • Brand Affinity Goal
  • Podcast Listener Count Goal
  • In-Person Event Attendee Goal

1. Blog Traffic Goal

  • Specific : I want to boost our blog's traffic by increasing our weekly publishing frequency from five to eight times a week. Our two bloggers will increase their workload from writing two posts a week to three posts a week, and our editor will increase her workload from writing one post a week to two posts a week.
  • Measurable : Our goal is an 8% increase in traffic.
  • Attainable : Our blog traffic increased by 5% last month when we increased our weekly publishing frequency from three to five times a week.
  • Relevant : By increasing blog traffic, we'll boost brand awareness and generate more leads, giving sales more opportunities to close.
  • Time-Bound : End of this month.
  • SMART Goal : At the end of this month, our blog will see an 8% lift in traffic by increasing our weekly publishing frequency from five posts per week to eight posts per week.

smart goal example on blog traffic

2. Facebook Video Views Goal

  • Specific: I want to boost our average views per native video by cutting our video content mix from eight topics to our five most popular topics.
  • Measurable: Our goal is a 25% increase in views.
  • Attainable: When we cut down our video content mix on Facebook from 10 topics to our eight most popular topics, our average views per native video increased by 20%.
  • Relevant: By increasing average views per native video on Facebook, we'll boost our social media following and brand awareness, reaching more potential customers with our video content.
  • Time-Bound: In six months.
  • SMART Goal: In six months, we'll see a 25% increase in average video views per native video on Facebook by cutting our video content mix from eight topics to our five most popular topics.

3. Email Subscription Goal

  • Specific: I want to boost the number of email blog subscribers by increasing our Facebook advertising budget on blog posts that historically acquire the most email subscribers.
  • Measurable: Our goal is a 50% increase in subscribers.
  • Attainable: Since we started using this tactic three months ago, our email blog subscriptions have increased by 40%.
  • Relevant: By increasing the number of email blog subscribers, our blog will drive more traffic, boost brand awareness, and drive more leads to our sales team.
  • Time-Bound: In three months.
  • SMART Goal: In three months, we'll see a 50% increase in the number of email blog subscribers by increasing our Facebook advertising budget on posts that historically acquire the most blog subscribers.

4. Webinar Sign-Up Goal

  • Specific: I want to increase the number of sign-ups for our Facebook Messenger webinar by promoting it through social, email, our blog, and Facebook Messenger.
  • Measurable: Our goal is a 15% increase in sign-ups.
  • Attainable: Our last Facebook Messenger webinar saw a 10% increase in sign-ups when we only promoted it through social, email, and our blog.
  • Relevant: When our webinars generate more leads, sales have more opportunities to close.
  • Time-Bound: By June 1, the day of the webinar.
  • SMART Goal: By June 1, the day of our webinar, we'll see a 15% increase in sign-ups by promoting it through social, email, our blog, and Facebook Messenger.

smart goal example on webinar sign-ups

5. Landing Page Performance Goal

  • Specific: I want our landing pages to generate more leads by switching from a one-column form to a two-column form.
  • Measurable: My goal is a 30% increase in lead generation.
  • Attainable: When we A/B tested our traditional one-column form versus a two-column form on our highest-traffic landing pages, we discovered that two-column forms convert 27% better than our traditional one-column forms, at a 99% significance level.
  • Relevant: If we generate more content leads, sales can close more customers.
  • Time-Bound: One year from now.
  • SMART Goal: One year from now, our landing pages will generate 30% more leads by switching their forms from one column to two columns.

6. Link-Building Strategy Goal

  • Specific: I want to increase our website's organic traffic by developing a link-building strategy that gets other publishers to link to our website. This increases our ranking in search engine results, allowing us to generate more organic traffic.
  • Measurable: Our goal is 40 backlinks to our company homepage.
  • Attainable: According to our SEO analysis tool , there are currently 500 low-quality links directing to our homepage from elsewhere on the internet. Given the number of partnerships we currently have with other businesses, and that we generate 10 new inbound links per month without any outreach on our part, an additional 40 inbound links from a single link-building campaign is a significant but feasible target.
  • Relevant: Organic traffic is our top source of new leads, and backlinks are one of the biggest ranking factors on search engines like Google. If we build links from high-quality publications, our organic ranking increases, boosting our traffic and leads as a result.
  • Time-Bound: Four months from now.
  • SMART Goal: Over the next four months, I will build 40 additional backlinks that direct to www.ourcompany.com. To do so, I will collaborate with Ellie and Andrew from our PR department to connect with publishers and develop an effective outreach strategy.

7. Reducing Churn Rate Goal

  • Specific: I want to reduce customer churn by 5% for my company because every customer loss is a reflection of our service’s quality and perception.
  • Measurable: Contact 30 at-risk customers per week and provide customer support daily for five new customers during their onboarding process.
  • Attainable: Our product offering has just improved and we have the means to invest more into our customer support team, and could potentially have five at-risk customers to upscale monthly.
  • Relevant: We can set up a customer knowledge base to track customers’ progression in the buyer’s journey and prevent churn by contacting them before they lose interest.
  • Time-Bound: In 24 weeks.
  • SMART Goal: In 24 weeks, I will reduce the churn rate by 5% for my company. To do so, we will contact 30 at-risk customers per week and provide/invest in customer support to assist five new customers during onboarding daily and track their progress through a customer knowledge base.

8. Brand Affinity Goal

  • Specific: I want to increase our podcast listener count as we are trying to establish ourselves as thought leaders in our market.
  • Measurable: A 40% increase in listeners is our goal.
  • Attainable: We can increase our current budget and level our podcaster’s cadence, to have the means to hold insightful conversations for our listeners to tune into.
  • Relevant: We created a podcast and have dedicated a team to source interesting guests, sound mixing, and eye-catching thumbnails to get it started.
  • Time-Bound: In four months.
  • SMART Goal: In four months, we'll see a 40% increase in average listener count in Apple Podcasts by providing our team the budget and cadence to make insightful podcasts with quality sound mixing and eye-catching thumbnails.

9. Podcast Listener Count Goal

  • Specific : I want to boost our podcast's listener count by promoting our podcast across social channels. We will post four quotes related to new podcast episodes throughout the month on our Twitter account, and we will post six short videos of our podcast conversations with guests on our Instagram account throughout the month.
  • Measurable : Our goal is a 20% increase in podcast listeners.
  • Attainable : Our podcast listener count increased by 5% last month when we published two short videos of our podcast conversation on Instagram.
  • Relevant : By increasing podcast listener count, we'll boost brand awareness and generate more leads, giving sales more opportunities to close.
  • SMART Goal : At the end of this month, our podcast will see a 20% increase in listeners by increasing our social media promotions from two Instagram posts to four Twitter posts and six Instagram posts.

10. In-Person Event Attendee Goal

  • Specific : I want to boost attendance at our upcoming in-person event by 50% by sending out three email reminders to our subscriber lists each week before the event.
  • Measurable : Our goal is a 50% increase in attendees.
  • Attainable : Our attendee number increased by 20% last year when we sent out one email reminder to our subscriber lists.
  • Relevant : By increasing attendee count, we'll increase brand loyalty by providing value to our existing customers, and generate more leads.
  • Time-Bound : August 30.
  • SMART Goal : By the time of our event on August 30th, our attendee number will increase by 50% from where it's at now (250 attendees), by sending out three email reminders to our subscriber lists.

Now that you’ve seen examples of SMART goals, let’s dive into how to make your own.

business plan smart goals

Free SMART Goal Template

A free template to help you create S.M.A.R.T. goals for marketing campaign success.

  • Set your goals
  • Calculate your metrics
  • Evaluate your success

You're all set!

Click this link to access this resource at any time.

Fill out this form to access the template.

How to make a smart goal.

  • Use specific wording.
  • Include measurable goals.
  • Aim for realistically attainable goals.
  • Pick relevant goals that relate to your business.
  • Make goals time-bound by including a timeframe and deadline information.

How to make a SMART goal: Do’s and Don’ts

1. Use specific wording.

When writing SMART goals , keep in mind that they are "specific" in that there's a hard and fast destination the employee is trying to reach. "Get better at my job," isn't a SMART goal because it isn't specific. Instead, ask yourself: What are you getting better at? How much better do you want to get?

If you're a marketing professional, your job probably revolves around key performance indicators or KPIs. Therefore, you might choose a particular KPI or metric that you want to improve on — like visitors, leads, or customers. You should also identify the team members working toward this goal, the resources they have, and their plan of action.

In practice, a specific SMART goal might say, "Clifford and Braden will increase the blog's traffic from email ..." You know exactly who's involved and what you're trying to improve on.

Common SMART Goal Mistake: Vagueness

While you may need to keep some goals more open-ended, you should avoid vagueness that could confuse your team later on. For example, instead of saying, "Clifford will boost email marketing experiences," say "Clifford will boost email marketing click rates by 10%."

2. Include measurable goals.

SMART goals should be "measurable" in that you can track and quantify the goal's progress. "Increase the blog's traffic from email," by itself, isn't a SMART goal because you can't measure the increase. Instead, ask yourself: How much email marketing traffic should you strive for?

If you want to gauge your team's progress, you need to quantify your goals, like achieving an X-percentage increase in visitors, leads, or customers.

Let's build on the SMART goal we started above. Now, our measurable SMART goal might say, "Clifford and Braden will increase the blog's traffic from email by 25% more sessions per month ... " You know what you're increasing, and by how much.

Common SMART Goal Mistake: No KPIs

This is in the same light of avoiding vagueness. While you might need qualitative or open-ended evidence to prove your success, you should still come up with a quantifiable KPI. For example, instead of saying, "Customer service will improve customer happiness," say, "We want the average call satisfaction score from customers to be a seven out of ten or higher."

3. Aim for realistically attainable goals.

An "attainable" SMART goal considers the employee's ability to achieve it. Make sure that X-percentage increase is rooted in reality. If your blog traffic increased by 5% last month, try to increase it by 8-10% this month, rather than a lofty 25%.

It's crucial to base your goals on your own analytics, not industry benchmarks, or else you might bite off more than you can chew. So, let's add some "attainability" to the SMART goal we created earlier in this blog post: "Clifford and Braden will increase the blog's traffic from email by 8-10% more sessions per month ... " This way, you're not setting yourself up to fail.

Common SMART Goal Mistake: Unattainable Goals

Yes. You should always aim to improve. But reaching for completely unattainable goals may knock you off course and make it harder to track progress. Rather than saying, "We want to make 10,000% of what we made in 2022," consider something more attainable, like, "We want to increase sales by 150% this year," or "We have a quarterly goal to reach a 20% year-over-year sales increase."

4. Pick relevant goals that relate to your business.

SMART goals that are "relevant" relate to your company's overall business goals and account for current trends in your industry. For instance, will growing your traffic from email lead to more revenue? And, is it actually possible for you to significantly boost your blog's email traffic given your current email marketing campaigns?

If you're aware of these factors, you’re more likely to set goals that benefit your company — not just you or your department.

So, what does that do to our SMART goal? It might encourage you to adjust the metric you're using to track the goal's progress. For example, maybe your business has historically relied on organic traffic for generating leads and revenue, and research suggests you can generate more qualified leads this way.

Our SMART goal might instead say, "Clifford and Braden will increase the blog's organic traffic by 8-10% more sessions per month." This way, your traffic increase is aligned with the business's revenue stream.

Common SMART Goal Mistake: Losing Sight of the Company

When your company is doing well, it can be easy to say you want to pivot or grow in another direction. While companies can successfully do this, you don't want your team to lose sight of how the core of your business works.

Rather than saying, "We want to start a new B2B business on top of our B2C business," say something like, "We want to continue increasing B2C sales while researching the impact our products could have on the B2B space in the next year."

5. Make goals time-bound by including a timeframe and deadline information.

A "time-bound" SMART goal keeps you on schedule. Improving on a goal is great, but not if it takes too long. Attaching deadlines to your goals puts a healthy dose of pressure on your team to accomplish them. This helps you make consistent and significant progress in the long term.

For example, which would you prefer: increasing organic traffic by 5% every month, leading to a 30-35% increase in half a year? Or trying to increase traffic by 15% with no deadline and achieving that goal in the same timeframe? If you picked the former, you're right.

So, what does our SMART goal look like once we bound it to a timeframe? "Over the next three months, Clifford and Braden will work to increase the blog's organic traffic by 8-10%, reaching a total of 50,000 organic sessions by the end of August."

Common SMART Goal Mistake: No Time Frame

Having no timeframe or a really broad span of time noted in your goal will cause the effort to get reprioritized or make it hard for you to see if your team is on track. Rather than saying. "This year, we want to launch a major campaign," say, "In quarter one, we will focus on campaign production in order to launch the campaign in quarter two."

Make Your SMART Goals SMART-er

Now that you know what a SMART goal is, why it's important, and the framework to create one, it's time to put that information into practice. Whether you're setting goals for a personal achievement or as part of hitting important marketing milestones, it's good to start with what you want to achieve and then reverse-engineer it into a concrete SMART goal.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in December 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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A free template to help you create SMART goals for marketing campaign success.

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SMART Goals Examples

Using the smart goal setting method

Do you ever feel that however hard you work towards an objective, it moves further away? The key might be to make your goals more realistic, clear, focused and measurable. The SMART method can help.

In this article, we’ll define the SMART goal-setting approach, explain how to use SMART goals, and provide some practical SMART goals examples.

Interwoven in the SMART goal examples will be the best practices in implementing the SMART method. We’ll also introduce the concept of using SMART goals in an OKR (objectives and key results) methodology and detail the similarities of the frameworks.

Table of Contents

What are SMART goals?

The benefits of smart goals for businesses., examples of smart goals., smart metrics examples and okrs., frequently asked questions..

SMART is an acronym, which stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. This sets the criteria for setting goals and objectives and also provides a framework for measuring success.

SMART goals are used in strategic planning to develop concrete business goals geared towards execution in a defined period, often during quarterly planning or annual planning meetings.

Examples of SMART goals should be:

  • Specific – Provides a clear description of what needs to be accomplished.
  • Measurable – Provides a metric, or number, that identifies when the objective has been achieved.
  • Attainable – The objective must be achievable, within the timeframe and resources allocated.
  • Relevant – Meaningful, significant, and aligned with corporate priorities.
  • Time-Bound – The objective must be concluded by a specific date.

George T. Doran first introduced the SMART method in the November 1981 issue of Management Review in a paper titled “There’s a S.M.A.R.T. Way to Write Management Goals and Objectives.”

You might set objectives with the best intentions, but with no clear timeframes, actions, rationale or specific details, it’s easy for them to go straight to the backburner.

The benefits of the SMART system include:

  • Organization – By breaking down and categorizing your objectives, you can plan them more clearly. This helps you to assign and monitor your goals.
  • Direction – If you measure your goal against a criterion, it’s easier to plan a route to success.
  • Motivation – It’s easier to stay motivated if you make consistent progress and feel like your goal is within reach.
  • Realism – By ensuring your goals fit into the SMART criteria, you can think more clearly about whether or not they’re realistic. Not ready yet? You can make a different SMART goal to get you closer.

It’s easy to talk about the SMART goals, but what do they look like in practice? Here are some examples of business goals hitting the SMART criteria.

Company-level examples.

We will increase recurring revenue by 25% in 2021, exceeding our 2020 performance by acquiring additional new customers and reducing churn, which will improve overall corporate profitability. We will do so by hitting established targets each quarter throughout the year.

So why is this a SMART goal? If we break it down, you can see it’s:

  • Specific – Increase recurring revenue in 2021.
  • Measurable – Achieve a 25% increase versus one year earlier.
  • Attainable – Improve upon 2018 performance with 15% increase through new customers and reduced churn.
  • Relevant – Revenue is the engine that drives our profitability.
  • Time-Bound – Set specific numerical targets for each quarter in 2021.

People operations examples.

Improve the bench strength of the sales and marketing departments by reducing turnover of top performers in each discipline to no more than 10% annually, and onboarding at least three new people each quarter, within the allocated budget.

This will improve the overall performance of these two key disciplines which drive our sales and profitability, as measured by retention and recruiting metrics each quarter.

  • Specific – Improve the bench strength of the sales and marketing departments.
  • Measurable – Reduce turnover to less than 10% and recruit and hire at least three people each quarter.
  • Attainable – Salary and recruiting budgets are adequate to achieve these targets.
  • Relevant – Sales and Marketing are key drivers to the company’s revenue and profitability.
  • Time-Bound – A mix of quarterly and annual objectives.

Customer success examples.

Improve customer service by improving the user experience and reducing response times, as measured by our NPS score, which we’ll improve from 95 to 98. This will reduce customer churn and improve our reputation in the industry, as measured by quarterly response time and NPS metrics.

  • Specific – Improve customer service and the user experience.
  • Measurable – Respond to all tickets within 12 hours and increase NPS score to 98.
  • Attainable – Response times and NPS score represent incremental improvement versus one year ago.
  • Relevant – Our customer’s experience will determine our ability to grow.
  • Time-Bound – As measured by quarterly metrics for response times and NPS scores.

SMART goals needn’t work in isolation. Many examples of SMART goals for strategic planning use the criteria to form OKRs — objectives and key results.

What are OKRs?

OKRs are designed for companies, teams and individuals working towards a common purpose, combining:

  • Annual goals
  • Quarterly objectives
  • Data-driven benchmarks

OKRs are larger-scale objectives designed to drive alignment, performance and results. They help focus everyone on the same priorities. Think of them like an overarching plan that people in a business can work towards.

They should be significant, concrete, and action-oriented. They represent the direction. Setting and achieving key results throughout the process can help managers and strategists benchmark and monitor how to get to the objective. They should be succinct, specific, and measurable. They typically include hard numbers.

Using a strategic planning tool like Adobe Workfront Goals can ensure your OKRs are SMART, tracked effectively , and aligned to your organization's strategic goals.

Both goal setting frameworks provide criteria and a methodology for developing goals, and both methods address each element of the SMART acronym.

Let’s take a look at how.

OKRs encompass SMART goal criteria.

Here, you can see how an OKR can and should be SMART. For example:

  • Specific – Objectives are specific, answering what needs to be accomplished.
  • Measurable – Key results are measurable, they are typically metrics or numbers which define when the objective is achieved.
  • Attainable – Objectives are attainable, yet inspirational, and in some cases aspirational. Google, for example, uses two types of objectives, which they refer to as aspirational and committed. Aspirational goals require more of a stretch by the organization and may need to be rolled from period to period before being accomplished.
  • Relevant – Objectives are relevant. They must be aligned with corporate priorities, moving the organization in the desired direction, often in support of the mission or vision statements . Quarterly OKRs determine the focus of the entire organization and inform the work to be done in the period.
  • Time-Bound – Key results are time-bound, the typical cadence in an OKR environment is quarterly. Key results are expected to be completed within the current quarter.

Company SMART goal example as an OKR.

Here, you can see an example SMART goal as an OKR. Setting out key results gives managers and staff a clear strategy to work towards.

OBJECTIVE: Increase recurring revenue by 25% in 2021.

Key Results:

  • Key Result 1 – Generate ARR of $250k per quarter, $1 million in 2021.
  • Key Result 2 – Secure a net gain of at least five new customers per quarter nationally.
  • Key Result 3 – Hire three new account executives per quarter.

OKRs adhere to the SMART methodology.

When set out in the SMART format, you can see how the OKR has a bit more context and rationale.

  • Specific – Increase recurring revenue by 25%.
  • Measurable – Generate ARR of $250k per quarter.
  • Attainable – By securing the required number of new customers and aided by an increase in manpower, the objective should be achievable in the specified time frame.
  • Relevant – Revenue is still the engine that drives profitability.
  • Time-Bound – $250k in ARR, five new customers, and three new account executives every quarter.

SMART goals and objectives examples can help you think smarter about your company goals and objectives. Remember, by using the SMART method, you can make all goals and OKRs more realistic, disciplined and measurable. By doing so, you can inspire people across your business to achieve them.

Want to learn other goal-setting and management techniques for your business? Check out our guides to:

  • MBO (management by objectives)
  • Project time management

What are the five SMART goals in strategic planning?

In strategic planning, SMART goals are similar to other aspects of business management, they need to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. When each element of this acronym is met, strategic plans can be more likely to work when executing .

SMART goals help strategic planners to sense-check objectives to make sure they’re realistic and definable, reducing the risk of projects extending further than planned.

How do you write a SMART goal?

To write a SMART goal, separate each element of your overall project aim. It’s likely that any business activity will have a number of sub-goals, and each should be considered on its own merit.

Next, note down the SMART acronym and assess how specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and timely each goal is. Try to avoid ‘yes’, ‘no’ or subjective judgements and, instead, note which specific idea the goal is grounded on and exactly how you’ll measure success or failure

How can I use SMART goals in each phase of the project life cycle?

At the project initiation stage , project managers can use SMART goals to make or assess the business case. Eliminating goals that don’t meet the criteria can also help to keep project scope streamlined from the beginning.

During the project planning phase , SMART goals can define the project schedule and ensure this is realistic. This can also help form a risk analysis.

When executing a project, you can return to your SMART goals to assign clear responsibilities based on what you’ve defined as actionable.

Once you reach the monitoring and controlling stage , return to the measures you mapped to each goal earlier on. Finally, in closing the project , you can assess how realistic your initial plans were.

business plan smart goals

Out of the Box Advisors

Small Business Growth Experts

(904) 468-6268

  • Jan 18, 2022
  • 15 min read

SMART Goal Examples for Small Businesses in 2023 (Boring But Critical)

Updated: Jan 20

Looking for ways to set your business up for success for 2023? The secret is to stay SMART.

With SMART goals, you can stay organized, more effectively execute a plan, and have a significantly increased chance of achieving your goals! Small Business SMART goals can help you avoid missing critical details in your plans. Otherwise, you might lack the necessary direction once you get started.

Small business owner with a dog laying its head on his shoulder while reviewing smart goals

Let’s start with the obligatory stat: About 3% of MBA graduates who regularly write their goals down earn 10 times as much as the other 97% of graduates put together. By setting SMART goals, you could set yourself up for success.

What are SMART goals, exactly? Don't worry, we have you covered! In this guide, we'll help you understand how to form your SMART goals that work for your small business. We will even toss in a few SMART goal examples to help guide you!

Start your small business near year off on the right track with our SMART goals guide (2023)!

What are SMART Goals?

Light bulb hanging upside down. Represents SMART thinking on business goals.

First, let's answer the question that's likely on your mind: what are SMART goals, exactly? Let's preface our explanation with a note that there are many different definitions for each item of this acronym. We feel the following is the best example for your use as a small business owner.

The Basics:

SMART stands for S pecific, M easurable, A ttainable, R esults-Driven, and T imely. Establishing SMART goals will help you remain more specific in scope for both yourself and your company. Along the way you can set your team up for success and track your progress along the way.

It is key to remember that this is less of a process to follow than it is a guideline. You will notice a lot of overlap between the factors as we go through the basics below.

Make sure your goals are clear, concise, and specific. A good way to look at this item is to view it from the perspective of your employees or team. If you anticipate questions from them regarding your goal, then it is not specific enough.

The Problem Areas:

A broad goal could leave members of your team asking questions at the very least. If you leave goals open ended you’ll likely experience miscommunication and/or poor execution regarding what you're trying to accomplish for any given goal.

Someone laying down colored blocks that spell the word specific

The most common issue is that your employees or key figures might interpret your goals in a different way than intended. Or worse still, they all think they ‘know’ what you mean and therefore their individual actions are oriented towards their personal interpretations. I’m sure you can imagine the chaos that could create internally.

For example, simply saying you want to "generate more leads" isn't specific enough to give your team proper direction. You leave open questions such as:

How many leads exactly? One person might think 20 is another, while another might aim for 100.

What kind of leads count towards this goal? One might decide you simply mean newsletter signups, while the other is only counting website form fills.

The Right Way:

Artistic view of a persons detailed calendar notebook.

Instead, say, "I want to generate 20 more leads through our website by the next quarter." As you’ll notice this statement is specific in multiple fronts. This SMART goal has a specific action, count, source, and timeline.

When specifying your goals, ask yourself what you're trying to accomplish. Which members of your team will help drive this project? What steps will they need to take to achieve individual SMART goals?

Think through the exact process you envision for you, or your team needs to take to accomplish the task.

Measurable goals help you quantify and clarify your efforts. It stands to reason that if you're unable to measure your goals, you'll struggle to track your progress.

Kid standing against a giant ruler to see how tall he is

Easily the stickiest area with respect to making your SMART goals meet the measurable standard is … well, the actual measurements. Even though it sounds a bit wonky, what I mean is that it’s easy to toss out a number when jotting down a goal. The hard part is the act of measuring for that number.

In the previous example, "20 more leads" was the measurable portion of the goal. It also mentioned those were website leads. Therefore, you will need to ensure that you have a way to both capture and quantify website leads. In this case, you would need to know you have Google Analytics Conversions set up for your website or some other method for counting new leads.

When crafting the measurable factor, you must check both boxes:

Set a measurable value… i.e., you have number shoved in it somewhere.

You have a way to take measurement of the stat your assigned said number.

Additionally, measurability allows you to then break this quantity into benchmarks. If your team only has a quarter to gather 20 leads, they'll need at least six new leads a month. If they fall behind, they'll know to adjust their strategy.

If you want to set your team up for success with your small business SMART goals, you need to establish practical goals. Otherwise, your team might feel the pressure of a seemingly impossible goal. As small business owners, we typically are both the villain and victim of setting ourselves up for impossible goals.

Small business owner looking out the window of a limo

‘I want to make $1M in sales this year!’ sure buddy... you just opened your business 3 months ago. We pull all sorts of wizardry here at Out of the Box Advisors , but even our magic has limits. I jest, but the example happens more often than you would expect when we are working with newer business owners.

The majority of why some slip on this one is that they are either inexperienced or just plain unrealistic.

Realism and pragmatism are absolute key here.

You can motivate your team with a goal that's within reach but take that extra push to achieve. As you continue setting SMART goals over time, you can push them a little further with each iteration.

Oh, and make sure that you keep your timeframes in mind when determining the achievability. Seems like a silly error, but it can trip up potential success when deploying your goals to your team.


Results-Driven is more about the why and has a more philosophical aspect to it than cold, hard numbers. The primary purpose here is to get you to think about the goal you are setting and if it truly achieves what you’re going for as a business strategy.

scientist surprised by unexpected chemical reaction result

A good parallel to the point of this item is metrics involving employee scorecards. You’ve likely heard the term ‘what you measure, is what you get’ in terms of what you want from an employee.

As a very crude example: Let’s say you give your sales team a single goal of total number of sales per week. Your initial idea is that more sales equals more revenue, right? Well, that COULD be true, but it could also mean that your employees will find a clever way to hit goals while still being ethical (hopefully). i.e., perhaps they break down a single sale of 5 items into 5 sales of single items. It takes a bit of extra work on their end, but they can hit their goals without the business reaping any benefit.

First, ask some simple, surface level questions: Why are you setting this goal? Is it relevant to your business? How does it accomplish your overall business objectives? Focus on the results you're trying to produce. Instead of "I want to generate 20 leads," say "I want to generate 20 to drive business growth."

Therefore, this one is more philosophical; it is meant more of a check and balance on your goal creation. The goal may be ‘generate 20 more leads for business growth’, with the results being business growth ultimately. You still need to be aware of the pitfalls of executing the goal like our crude example above in order to avoid them.

Don't forget to set a timeframe for each goal. A deadline motivates your team and encourages them not to procrastinate. Otherwise, it could take longer than anticipated to accomplish your goals.

The issues regarding timeliness of your goals should be somewhat self-evident so we won’t elaborate as much here. You need to find that sweet spot of being reasonable but aggressive. The typical failures here are either goals with either too long or short of a timeframe.

We strongly recommend that you try to stick to existing timeframes within your business as it exists today. This has the benefit of being more easily accepted, but also helps with planning, measuring, and contrasting with your existing processes.

hourglass upturned sitting on some rocks

For example : if you are setting sales goals, then your time frame for each goal should at the very least start at the quarterly level.

Chances are you're already measuring sales data and hopefully meeting on a quarterly basis. This both makes measuring and setting the goal values a bit easier based on existing trends, but also you can easily bridge meetings and expectations into what your team is already comfortable with.

If you need to drill down further, it then simply becomes a matter of dividing out the ‘common’ timeframe into equal parts to set those goals. i.e., your quarterly goal is 30 sales so your monthly is 10 per month.

Fun Fact: You are 42% more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down. Grab a sheet of paper and pen or even better toss them on a whiteboard for the whole team to see regularly.

We know these are the most exciting items in your business strategy. So, to help keep your attention on these examples we will happily provide you with a puppy or kitten photo for each example!
As a bonus we are going to link each one to a rescue that we enjoy if you want to support them! -Ryan, CEO

SMART Goal Examples

Now that we're answered the question what are SMART goals, let's start setting you up for success . Here are eight small business SMART goal examples you can use in 2022.

1. You’re Starting a Small Business

Happy puppy running on a sidewalk

Start by asking yourself those basic, yet core questions such as: Why do you want to start a new business? What type of business? When do you want to open your doors?

Then elaborate on them to form your new business’s first SMART Goal.

Their Notes:

I want to start a new bakery that specializes in French pastries.

I'll need to sell 20 pastries a day to break even by the end of next year.

I'll establish a menu, gather recipes, and start promoting my business through digital marketing.

Starting a bakery will allow me to benefit financially from my passion.

I'll open my doors by December 2022.

With this information we will formulate the goal of ‘starting a new business’ which can be a bit more general than say a sales goal. But we wanted to provide solid examples that real world small business owners may use.


puppy laying on a multicolored rug

Within the next month, I want to set up a new French patisserie Downtown. For the next two weeks, I'll focus on my menu and marketing strategy. Once I open my doors in December, I'll need to sell 20 pastries a day to break even. This goal will allow me to enjoy my passion and make money.

There are several S pecifics relating to what items need to happen to start the business.

While pastries per day is the only number technically, the due dates established are also M easurable. For example: did you open in December Yes or No is still measurable in terms or our topic today.

For each of the tasks, the timelines are reasonable which enables them to be A ttainable.

The R esults here can be a bit vaguer. But the ultimate goal is to accomplish a passion and dream which is a solid motivating result.

The T imelines here are reasonable and specific.

2. Growing a Small Business

orange kitten walking happily through some grass

Once you open your doors, you'll need a plan for long-term growth. What items do you want to focus on in order to ensure success for your business? Your first few customers and new customer growth is probably the most important right out of the gate.

I want to gather three new clients for my marketing business.

I can generate three new clients while maintaining my current clients.

I can develop a social media marketing campaign and ask clients for referrals.

Generating new clients will allow me to boost my revenue and grow.

I can generate three new clients within two months.

Kitten sitting on a bed of their owner

I will generate three new clients for my marketing business within the next two months. I will focus on using marketing strategies like referral programs and social media marketing for these new clients. Achieving this goal will enable us to hire the next designer to enlarge our capacity for new customers.

This goal is S pecific both on the count of new customers, but also on the how you plan on tackling it.

It is easily M easurable with defining the need of three new customers

We assume here that 3 new customers in two months is A ttainable

We are looking to hit a new milestone with hiring the next designer to be the primary R esult. Note how it does not always have to be revenues when a goal involves an increase in sales.

Again, we assume that two months is a reasonable T imeframe for this hypothetical

3. Becoming a Thought Leader

Young yellow lab laying down with one eye closed

Becoming a thought leader in your industry can establish your company's credibility. Even if you do not aim to acquire speaking engagements like this example, becoming a knowledge expert is a heck of a way to ensure success.

I want to become an expert in the transportation industry.

If I'm successful, someone will ask me to speak publicly at an upcoming event.

I can work with a PR company to accomplish my goal.

Becoming a thought leader will allow me to reach more clients and generate brand trust/loyalty.

I want people to see me as a thought leader within two years.

tiny little puppy with the cutest face

I'll work with a PR company to become a thought leader in the transportation industry within the next two years. They'll help me demonstrate my expertise by booking me to speak before at least 3 major transportation events during that time. With their help, I can boost my brand's credibility to gain more clients.

While the goal does not S pecify which PR company, it does not that they would be required to book at least 3 major gigs.

The goal is easily M easured by how many major speaking engagements that you are booked

We assume that this goal considers an existing workload to justify why two years was chosen for only 3 events. We might recommend a bit more aggression and still maintain A ttainability.

The R esult here is the ultimate growth of their brand awareness within their industry

Again, we hope that the two years was chosen with a mindfulness, but either way it has an established T imeliness for the goal.

4. Improving Customer Response Time

small kitten next to an alarm clock

Improving the customer experience can increase your revenue by 80% . Otherwise, unhappy customers will spread the word about their negative experiences. You could lose future customers as a result.

I will improve customer response time by creating a dedicated customer service team.

I will hire three people for the customer service team by the end of the year.

We have enough room in our offices and enough money in our budget for new team members.

Improving our customer response time will increase our brand reputation and revenue.

I have four months to hire the customer service team.

Kitten laying down on a blanket looking at the camera

By hiring three new people for our customer service team, I can improve customer response time by at least 50%. Improving our customer service response time will improve our brand reputation, leading to more future revenue. I'll need to hire our customer service team within four months.

The goal is S pecific on several levels. It is good to remember to not get stuck on defining one item. Be as specific as you can whenever needed.

This is a good example to remind you to make sure you can M easure the metrics specified in your goal. Do you have the ability to determine response time for example?

When working with % increases / decreases within a goal. A ttainability has much to do with your current position. Double check your percentages for realism.

In this example, the primary R esult is brand recognition with a secondary impact to positive revenue growth.

T imetables can be set in result achievement and / or mechanism (hiring in this example). We prefer you to do both when possible.

5. Improving Employee Retention

chocolate lab puppy smiling for the camera

Are you struggling to hold onto your employees ? You could waste valuable time and money trying to train a new team. Not only does acquisition costs matter, but disruptions in your team can lead to dissatisfied customers and lower sales.

I will improve employee turnover by 20% by better training our new employees and setting expectations.

We can improve employee turnover by 20% in 120 days.

One-on-one meetings and training will ensure employees know what to expect as a member of this team.

Improving employee retention will reduce costs and boost productivity.

We can reduce talent acquisition by 50% with this 20% turnover improvement.

A cat and dog best friends giving each other affection on some grass

By better training and closer relationships with our new employees, I can improve our employee turnover by 20% in 120 days. This will boost our team's productivity on its own but will reduce our expenditures on finding talent by up to 50%.

The goal has several metrics, but it is key that it has a S pecific target for both turnover and timelines.

Employee turnover percentage should already be a M easured metric you’re watching in your KPI’s

Depending on the state of this business, 120 days may or may not be an A ttainable timetable for a 20% improvement.

This goal is looking to reduce expenses as it R esult-driven motivator. But it also acknowledges that turnover improvements can also have positive impacts in other areas of the business.

A T imeline has been set at 120 days.

6. Boosting Business Operations Efficiency

Young dog playing with a tennis ball on the beach

Improving your sales process is an obvious was to boost your business growth. This example focuses on the sales process, but this can apply to efficiencies within any aspect of your business. Determine the desired outcomes and set goals based on those metrics.

I will improve our efficiency by challenging our sales department to increase their closing ratio.

Our sales team can increase their closing ratio from 30% to 50%.

I'll discuss this goal with our sales team to make sure it's plausible.

Increasing sales process efficiency by assigning compensation in some way to this metric.

We can accomplish this goal within a year.

two kittens walking along a path in the woods.

We can improve our business sales process efficiency by setting compensation bonuses to coincide with conversion rates. We shall consider this initiative a success by increasing our closing ratio from 30% to 50%. We can accomplish this goal within a year for long-term growth.

The S pecificity of this goal is a bit broad, but as you can see, they are seeking guidance from the experts on their team. It is important to note that you can refine your goals as you gain information along the way.

Conversion rates are another one of those KPI’s any business should be regularly M easuring.

The author of this goal set a range initially that they felt was A ttainable but are aware enough to rely on their team to ensure the goal is not overzealous.

Improving your conversion efficiency has some obvious R esults motivation, more sales.

They set a T imeframe of one year.

7. Paying Off Debts

Beautiful blind orange kitten lounging about.

Although we support carrying some liabilities, debts have the potential hold your business back. SMART goals can help you set goals for reducing your business’ liabilities. We strongly recommend meeting with a CPA to help articulate this goal.

Pay off $15,000 of our Credit Card balance.

We'll monitor our cash accounts weekly to track our ability to direct towards debt payments.

We will improve our ability to pay by focusing on a reduction in optional costs.

Paying off our debts will reduce the interest expense and allow us to grow.

We can accomplish this within 1 year.

so cute blind kitty all bundled up and posing for a pic

I will pay off our $15,000 in debts within 1 year. We will accomplish this by cutting down our current costs. Every week we will monitor our cash accounts and determine an appropriate amount to direct towards the balance for that week. Reducing our debt will improve the financial outlook and stability of the business.

They have set a S pecific amount of debt they want to pay off. Alternatively, they could have also set a specific debt ratio.

M easuring the amount paid down should be a simple task.

The A ttainability of this goal will be largely dependent on their ability to reduce costs or otherwise free up cash to apply towards debt.

Financial stability is one heck of a motivating R esults-Driven goal.

Depending on the size of the business and revenue volumes, one year is probably an acceptable amount of T ime to pay down this debt.

8. Increasing Web Traffic and Leads

Little fluffy puppy bouncing around while playing outside in the grass

Search engine optimization (SEO) can help you gather more web traffic and leads. Defining what results you expect from your SEO efforts is the real trick to setting a SMART Goal. These goals are critical to holding your SEO company accountable as well.

Improve our SEO rankings for five target keywords by the end of the year.

We can reach one of the top three positions by gathering 10 high-quality backlinks and improving our content.

We can achieve this goal with a strong SEO strategy.

Improving our rankings will help us attract more leads.

We can accomplish this within three months.

grey kitten laying down on some hardwood floors about to play

We will improve our SEO ranking in our primary 5 keywords to be at least in the top 3 placements on average. Doing so will generate more traffic and leads within the next three months.

One of the biggest mistakes of small businesses paying for SEO services is that they aren’t using S pecific goals to hold their service providers accountable.

The key to the M easurability of keyword rankings is to make sure you average it out. At any given time, a keywords rank can fluctuate. You want to make sure you have some regular stability to it overall.

For ranking goals, you should typically set their improvement by about 5 ranks per quarter or so. Anything more than that and they may be beyond A ttainability.

SEO leads to traffic and if your site design is sales oriented it will then lead to more conversions. R esults here could represent either outcome.

Advancing 5 keywords to the top 3 every quarter is a solid T imetable.

Get SMART: Setting SMART Goals Helps Set Your Business Up for Success

Keep in mind that these are merely examples to help you craft your vision for how to set your own small business goals. Working with a business coach can significantly streamline this process, but it isn’t a requirement by any means.

The key point that we want to express is that you’re first setting goals at all, but that when you do, they are done in a fashion designed and proven for your success.

However if you need help setting SMART Goals for your business, we're here to help!

Contact us today to get started.

Out of the Box Advisors has been in business for over 10 years with a proven track record of helping small businesses achieve growth. Our clients grew revenues by 19.1% on average in 2022.

Start your path to growing revenues but meeting with one of our award winning business coaches in a free consultation. Just click the Book Now button below to get started!

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How to set SMART goals for your small business

By Homebase Team

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Whether it’s going to the gym more often or finally tackling that small business to-do you’ve been avoiding, we all have goals.

But when it comes to setting small business goals, you’ve gotta think more than just smart; you’ve gotta think SMART. SMART goals for small business is a more effective way to write business goals—and accomplish them—that actually sets you and your business up for success. 

Never heard of the SMART goal-setting method? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. We’re breaking down everything you need to know about SMART goals. Plus, we’ve got some examples of SMART goals for small businesses to help you write goals with confidence.

What are SMART goals?

SMART is an acronym used for helping with goal setting. SMART goals are goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. The SMART goal-setting method is designed to give you better results vs. simply setting a goal without any guidelines.

We all love a good acronym, but this one also serves as a handy guide for forming an effective goal. Each letter is a criterion that your goal must meet. Together, they help you write a goal that has a clear objective and includes all the components necessary to set you up for success.

So whether it’s a personal, professional, or even a team goal, use the SMART goal-setting method to be on your way to achieving your business targets in no time.

First, let’s break down each of the criteria in detail.

1. Specific

A specific goal should be… well, specific. Put simply, it means including all the details you might need to help you reach your objective.

Goals that aren’t specific tend to raise a lot of questions. For example, “Grow my business” is a goal, but it’s not specific. It’s vague and comes with a lot of follow-up questions for anyone involved in accomplishing it, like:

  • How are you going to grow your business?
  • Who is responsible for growing your business? 
  • By how much are you going to grow your business? 

A goal that’s specific should cover the following:

  • What you’re trying to achieve
  • How you’re going to achieve it
  • Who’s going to be involved
  • Why the goal matters

Instead of “Grow my business” , add in specificity, like, “Increase produce sales by 17% through new marketing outreach.” This tells us what you want to achieve, how you’re going to do it, what team is involved, and adds in a unit of measurement… more on that below.

2. Measurable

Tackling goals takes a lot of time and effort. So if you’re going to dedicate resources, you should probably know when you’ve reached the finish line. Or at least if you’re on track.

If committing to a concrete number feels scary, you’re not alone. Over 80% of small businesses don’t track their goals. But it’s a big part of setting you and your team up for success.

You can fulfill the measurable criteria of a SMART goal in many different ways. 

The easiest is setting a quantity or specific amount you want to achieve. For example, you want to reach $100,000 in revenue or you want to grow your team to five people. 

But you can have goals that don’t have numeric targets. In those situations, you should still be able to easily determine what success looks like. For example, if you want to complete a training program or implement a software, the goal is measurable because you can confidently check off a box that says “done”.

3. Achievable

This is where you should gut-check if your goal is realistic or achievable. For example, if hitting your target will require all your employees to work overtime for the next two months, that might not be a realistic goal.

It doesn’t mean you can’t be ambitious or even set stretch goals. But if a goal is unrealistic, it means you’re unlikely to achieve it. And setting a goal that’s out of reach isn’t motivating or helpful for propelling your business forward.

If a goal doesn’t feel achievable, try breaking it down into bite-sized SMART goals so you can get one step closer to that big goal. (And hey, we all love crossing something off a list.)

4. Relevant

As a small business owner, you probably have a ton of great ideas. 

While we all want to do everything, it’s more than likely impossible. So it’s important to step back and make sure your goals play nice with the rest of your larger company vision. In other words, you need to make sure it’s relevant.

An easy way to evaluate if your goal is relevant is to simply ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?”. If the why is unclear, it might be a sign that your goal isn’t relevant enough to be SMART.

For instance, let’s say your mission is to become the number one hair salon in your city. In which case, opening a retail store in a different state probably isn’t a relevant goal. But opening a second location in your city? Now we’re talking.

5. Time-bound

We’ve all been there—we say we’ll do something but then it never happens. More often than not, it’s because it’s not time-bound. 

If there’s no deadline, it doesn’t feel urgent and continues to fall to the bottom of our priority list. Even if we know it’s important. This is especially true if you’re a busy business owner with a to-do list longer than a CVS receipt.

So when setting a SMART goal, you should always include a reasonable timeline for when you plan to achieve your target.

If you don’t end up hitting that deadline for some reason, it’s no big deal. But at least you’ll have a timeline to work towards. It also gives you a date for when it’s time to re-evaluate your goals.

Why are SMART goals important

Improving operational efficiency is a top of the priority list for small businesses and setting the right goals is an easy way to make sure you’re optimizing how you use your resources.

Unlike any old goal, writing a SMART goal takes a little more thought and care. But we guarantee that it’s an extra step worth taking.

Almost 90% of businesses fail to achieve their goals. And while achieving everything you set out to accomplish is unlikely, the SMART method helps you set goals with intention. It’s a tried and true formula that equips you with everything you need, so you’re more likely to achieve your goals. 

Of course, no one can do it all alone. As a small business owner, you also likely need the support of your employees to make your goals come to life.

Not only does the SMART method help you clearly articulate your plans, but it makes it easier to communicate them with your team . By increasing transparency, the entire team knows what they’re working toward and why.

Goal-setting for your small business isn’t something you should just do once a year. Rather, it’s something you should be doing regularly to make sure you’re constantly working on the things that matter.

So whether it’s your first time goal setting for your business or you need to take a moment to reset your objectives, the SMART goal method is a great way to keep you on track and help you set better goals. 

Here’s a step-by-step for how to set business goals using the SMART method.

1. Determine the area of opportunity

Before you can set a goal, you need to narrow down the most important areas of focus for your business.

A good place to start is by identifying a problem that you’re hoping to solve for. Problems aren’t necessarily bad things, they’re just areas where there’s room for improvement.

Some examples of areas of opportunity for a small business might include:

  • Reducing the amount of time your employees waste at work
  • Hiring more employees to meet customer demand
  • Setting up a time tracking system to get a better understanding of your labor costs.

If you’re not sure where to start, a prioritization method like the Eisenhower Matrix can help you surface tasks that are higher impact and more urgent.

2. Make sure your goal is SMART

Now that you know what you’re setting out to achieve, you need to make sure that how, when, and what you’re doing is clear. You can do this using the SMART method we covered earlier.

As you’re writing out your goals, here are the five SMART questions you can ask to check if your goal is ready to go.

  • Is it Specific? What are you trying to accomplish and how?
  • Is it Measurable? How will you determine success and track your progress?
  • Is it Achievable? Is the goal reasonable and realistic?
  • Is it Relevant? How does the goal ladder up to your overall business objectives?
  • Is it Time-Bound? When do you plan to reach your goal?

Once the answer to all these questions is a resounding yes, you have yourself a SMART goal.

3. Put a plan in place

Now that you have a solid SMART goal to guide you, it’s time to create a plan of action. A SMART goal is detailed but usually doesn’t cover everything you need to get to the finish line. That’s where your action plan comes in.

As you start putting a plan in place, you should start to have answers to the following questions.

  • What resources or tools do you need to achieve your goals?
  • Are there any blockers that prevent you from getting started?
  • What key steps or milestones will you need to hit along the way?
  • Do you have the data points necessary to track and measure your goal?
  • Are there any potential risks or challenges that you’ll face?

Your plan doubles as a roadmap toward achieving your objective. Without a clear, organized plan, it’s easy to find yourself feeling lost or missing important steps along the way—which can derail your goals.

4. Take action

Now that the planning is done, it’s finally time to start doing. Depending on the scope of your goal, this step could take anywhere from a few days to several months. 

As you start checking to-dos off your plan, check back on your SMART goal every once in a while to make sure you’re still on track. This will help you make adjustments if necessary.

5. Celebrate

By now, we know how important it is to show appreciation for your employees. But don’t forget yourself! 

No matter how big or small your goal is, take a moment to celebrate getting to the finish line. And since there’s a good chance you didn’t get there alone, take a moment to thank your staff. For small goals, a quick shout-out in a team communication app is perfect, so everyone sees it. For larger ones, boost morale with a free lunch or even a nice thank you card.

If you didn’t quite meet your target, that’s totally fine. When you set a SMART goal, you laid a solid foundation. Even if things didn’t go as planned, you’ve made progress that puts you ahead of where you started. And that’s worth celebrating too! 

6. Review and re-evaluate

One of the benefits of setting time-bound goals is that you have a built-in review period based on the timeline you set. It prevents you from procrastinating on or sitting on a goal forever.

When the timeline or deadline on your goal lapses, it’s time to review.

If you smashed your goal—amazing! Go back to Step 1 and set your next SMART goal.

But if you came up short—all good. Take the time to evaluate and understand what didn’t go as expected. Maybe the goal wasn’t as SMART as you initially thought. Or you ran into a road bump that derailed your plans.

That’s the great thing about goals. They don’t have to be set in stone, priorities can change and it’s okay to readjust them if necessary.

Examples of SMART goals in action

Setting SMART goals makes sense in theory. But what does it look like in action?

Let’s look at a few examples of strong business goals and what makes them SMART—so you can start writing better goals.

Hiring more employees

“Hire three more employees with customer service experience by the end of the year using Homebase’s Hiring and Onboarding platform. This will help us expand our store hours.”

What makes this goal SMART?

  • Specific: You’re specifically searching for candidates with customer service experience, and you plan to do it by using Homebase’s hiring and onboarding platform .
  • Measurable: You know you’ve achieved success when three employees are hired. 
  • Achievable: There are still six months left in the year, and in the past, it’s taken one to two months to hire a new employee, so you know this goal is realistic.
  • Relevant: You want to improve the customer experience by hiring more employees so you can expand your hours.
  • Time-bound: You plan to complete your goal by a specific date, the end of the year.

Reducing overtime labor costs

“Reduce employee overtime costs by implementing a time clock to accurately track employee hours in the next 30 days.”

  • Specific: You’re specifically reducing overtime time costs by implementing a time clock .
  • Measurable: You’ll know you’re successful when you’ve implemented a time-tracking system that your employees are using regularly.
  • Achievable: A free digital online time clock can be implemented in as little as a few hours. Research shows that time clocking can help reduce overtime . So you know this goal is very achievable.
  • Relevant: Employee wages are one of the biggest expenses for small businesses, and overtime often costs more than regular hours. So reducing overtime will help you optimize your labor costs .
  • Time-bound: You plan to implement a time-tracking system in 30 days.

Reduce the amount of time spent on payroll

“Reduce the amount of time management spends running payroll by implementing a payroll software that automates timesheets and wage calculations this quarter.”

What makes it SMART?

  • Specific: You’re specifically tackling the time it takes to run payroll by setting up a software that automates timesheets and calculates wages.
  • Measurable: You know you’re successful when you’ve run your first payroll using your new software.
  • Achievable: You know that most small business payroll software is relatively simple to onboard. But giving yourself the entire quarter gives you time to evaluate your options and find the best payroll software for your small business.
  • Relevant: If you have hourly employees , or employees at all, you need to pay them. By reducing the time it takes to run payroll, you can free up more time to work on other business goals.
  • Time-bound: You’ve set a timeline of three months (or a quarter) to complete your goal.

Ready to reach your SMART goals?

From hiring to increasing employee happiness Homebase does it all. Reach new heights with the easy-to-use, all-in-one employee management app that small businesses love. Get started for free .

Small business SMART goals FAQs 

What is a smart goal.

A SMART goal meets the five criteria of the SMART goal-setting method. The acronym SMART stands for S pecific, M easurable, A chievable, R elevant, and T ime-Bound.

This list of criteria helps you define your objectives clearly. It also helps ensure you have all the components to help you to successfully achieve your goals.

Why should you set SMART goals for your small business?

You should set SMART goals for your small business because they help you set your goals with intention. Rather than picking arbitrary goals, the SMART method ensures that you’re focusing on the things that matter. SMART goals are also well-defined and attainable, so you know you’re setting yourself up for success.

How do you set business goals using the SMART method?

Here are the steps for how you can set business goals using the SMART method.

  • Determine your business objective.
  • Take the objective and make it SMART. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Bound)
  • Create a plan to tackle your SMART goal.
  • Put that plan into action.
  • Track your progress along the way.

By using the SMART method to set business goals, you can feel confident that you’re choosing goals that you’re likely to achieve.

How do you write SMART goals for a small business?

When writing business goals using the SMART goal-setting method, you should make sure that your goal meets all five components. The acronym is designed to help guide you through the process. 

Here are the 5 criteria you’ll need to cover while you’re writing your SMART business goal:

  • Specific: What are you trying to accomplish and how?
  • Measurable: How will you determine success and track your progress?
  • Achievable: Is the goal realistic?
  • Relevant: How does the goal ladder up to your overall business objectives?
  • Time-Bound: When do you plan to reach your goal?

When writing your small business goal, you can answer all the questions separately or phrase them together. As long as you meet all five components, you have a SMART goal.

Remember:  This is not legal advice. If you have questions about your particular situation, please consult a lawyer, CPA, or other appropriate professional advisor or agency.

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Using SMART Goals to Build a Better BC Business

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The success of your business depends on your ability to set and achieve goals. Without goals, business (and life) becomes chaotic and unfocused, or worse, stagnant and unproductive.

Whether you’re a small business or a large corporation, SMART goals can help your chances of success and take your company vision from hazy to crystal clear.

The SMART goal approach is a popular productivity system that has been around for decades. If you haven’t made it part of your regular business process, consider how SMART goals can keep your business moving forward, especially if you’re one of the small businesses that employ over a million people in British Columbia .

Setting SMART goals can help small business teams achieve big results by improving clarity, focus, motivation and teamwork. And SMART works for everyone, whether you’re an Okanagan winery, a Vancouver-based tech startup or a solo entrepreneur in the growing digital media sector. Try the tips below to write better SMART goals for your business.

What are SMART Goals?

SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound. These five buckets make the system so effective in helping you set effective objectives. It brings structure and traceability to your actions and provides clear milestones to let you know you’re on the right track.

How to write SMART Goals

It’s easy to get started with your SMART goals. Grab a pen and paper, or use one of the many online resources like this free SMART Goals template from Hubspot . You should also consider the “5 W’s”: Who needs to be involved in order to achieve this goal? What are the requirements and restraints? When will the goal be completed? Where will the work take place? Why is it important for my company?

Here’s how your goal should look:

Specific – You can’t get what you want without being clear about what you want. That’s why you need to state EXACTLY what you plan to do. Instead of “increase company visibility,” try “increase search engine traffic by 20% in the next six months.”

Tip: Use action words. An action statement will help you inspire yourself and your team to follow through. So instead of “I want people to notice my company” (passive), it’s “I want to increase awareness among lawyers and legal assistants by 15% as measured by the number of engaged followers.”

Measurable – You need a way to track your progress and know when you’ve reached your goal. Decide in advance what specific metric(s) you’ll use. It could be the number of leads generated, new clients signed, dollars raised, etc. And choose a metric you’re comfortable using. If you’re not social media savvy, don’t make “number of ‘quality engagements’ on Facebook versus Twitter” a metric. Stick to what you know.

Tip: Find a way to visually track your progress. This is a great way to stay motivated. Digital platform. White board. Whatever works best for you.

Achievable – Goals are dreams within reach. They should be big, exciting, ambitious and realistic. Does your company have the resources to achieve your goal? If not, how can you get what you’re missing? Your goal should make you feel stretched and challenged. And remember: if you’re not failing, you’re not trying. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Tip: If you’re not sure if your goal is achievable, ask yourself “has anyone else done this before?” If the answer is yes, analyze how. If the answer is no, ask yourself how your company can be first.

Relevant – Every short-term goal should ladder up to your end goal. And you should be able to chart the path from one to the other.

For example:

  • End goal: Sell your client list to a bigger player for max money. 
  • Year-over-year goal: Increase profits by 10% for the next 5.5 years to be in the position to meet the end goal.
  • This year’s goal: Earn an extra $270,000 in revenue to meet the YOY goal.
  • This month’s goal: Bill an additional 250 hours this month to stay on track to meet this year’s goal.
  • This week’s goal: Get a meeting with one new lead and reach out to five existing but dormant clients to stay on track for this month’s goal.
  • Today’s goal: Reach out to one existing client and make three comments on LinkedIn to stay on track for this week’s goal.

Tip: Take a closer look at your overall business objectives from the top. Have they changed since the last time you thought about it? If so, how does/should that impact your goals?

Time-bound – A key part of any SMART goal is stating when you’ll get it done. Set a realistic target date and be honest with yourself as you do it. It doesn’t matter how long something “should” take. Be realistic about how long it’ll take you. And remember, every goal should have a clear beginning and endpoints.

Tip: Define what should be complete at the halfway mark. This will help create a sense of urgency and keep timelines on track.

What to avoid when setting your SMART Goals

  • Negative framing . We work better when we treat ourselves kindly. So, don’t look for ways to “stop losing clients,” but instead “generate X new business leads.”
  • Getting stuck in “one-track thinking.” You should be prepared to fine-tune your strategy over time and ask your team — and yourself — a lot of questions. Make sure you’re reviewing and adjusting as necessary.
  • Giving up control . Make sure YOU are the person with the power to achieve your goal. If achieving it depends exclusively on someone else’s decision, you aren’t setting yourself up for success.

Small business is big business in British Columbia, and the SMART Goal system is a great way to help this critical economic engine thrive. So be smart about your SMART goals and evaluate your process on a regular basis.

Your map to the pot of gold is a connected set of goals. Use this time-tested system to get there. ​


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