Do you want your business to have a chance at success? Then setting broad, unrealistic goals won’t get you there. They will leave you feeling discouraged and unmotivated. Instead, focus on ambitious but S.M.A.R.T. business goals that will help you succeed.
Breaking Down S.M.A.R.T. Business Goals
S.M.A.R.T. goals are not a new concept. They’ve been around since the ’80s and have been used by countless organizations and individuals. Let’s review what the famous acronym stands for once again, this time focusing specifically on businesses.
Specific – setting broad and generic goals for your business, like “make a profit,” means setting yourself up to fail. Among 90% of studies about goal setting, specific goals were more likely to be met. When setting your goal, always ask yourself how achieving it will help your business.
Measurable – your goal will be more achievable if you assign a numerical value to it and create clear benchmarks to track your progress.
Achievable – set goals that can be accomplished through actionable steps are more practical than overly ambitious targets.
Realistic – your startup may have limited resources. Ask yourself if your goal is realistic given your current circumstances or if you need to adjust it.
Time-based – set a deadline that will keep you motivated and accountable.
S.M.A.R.T. Business Goal Examples
I don’t know about you, but I’ve always understood a concept better when I see an actual example. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of 4 different examples of S.M.A.R.T. startup goals below.
👉 Example #1: Driving Website Traffic
A common goal for any business or web entrepreneur is to build online visibility and website traffic.
Increasing your website’s organic traffic will help you get more leads and sales which will help grow your business.
How much do you want to increase your traffic by? Your new goal may now be to increase your website’s organic traffic by 30% in the next 8 months. You can measure this using tools like Google Analytics to track how many visitors you get each month.
Your goal is achievable if you set actionable steps. Some examples include blogging regularly, leveraging social media, or establishing yourself as an industry expert by publishing an e-book. You should set specific targets and benchmarks for each of these subordinate goals.
This is a realistic goal considering you can do it without needing much financial assistance. An unrealistic goal may be to expect your organic traffic to double in a short amount of time. Using paid advertising can increase traffic but you’ll have to decide how much you’re willing to spend.
Aiming for an 8-month deadline will keep you focused and motivated.
🎯 S.M.A.R.T goal: I will increase my website’s organic traffic by 30% in the next 8 months. I will accomplish this by being active on social media, publishing an ebook, and producing quality blog content on my website.
👉 Example # 2: Increasing User Acquisition
Let’s say you have an innovative SaaS startup. Since getting new users is the highest driver of growth, your goal is to create a successful user acquisition strategy.
Your specific goal will be to acquire more active users of your software.
Your exact number will depend on the type of business you have and how well you’ve been performing. Let’s assume, for this example, you want to acquire twice as many users as you did the previous year.
You need to find a strategy that works for you. Techniques like analyzing your user base, email marketing, getting published on tech blogs, or offering a free trial are steps you can take to achieve your goal.
If you have a very limited budget or a high churn rate, your goal may be unrealistic, given your current circumstances. You’ll have to evaluate the resources you can devote to your goal, the competitiveness of your market, and other factors that determine the realism of your goal.
Your deadline will be 1 year from now because you’re comparing your results to the previous year.
🎯 S.M.A.R.T. goal: We will double last year’s user acquisition by December 31st by implementing effective marketing strategies.
👉 Example # 3: Improving Customer Experience
If you own a startup, you should build a strong relationship with your customers. Let’s look at how you can make this one of your S.M.A.R.T. business goals!
Increasing customer satisfaction will help you retain your existing clients, make your brand reputable, and get you more referrals. To make this goal specific, let’s focus on increasing customer satisfaction survey scores.
Make your goal measurable. Increasing customer satisfaction survey scores by 10% by the next quarter will give you an exact target you can work towards. You can measure your scores on a weekly or monthly basis to make sure you’re on track.
This goal is achievable if you enhance your existing customer experience. To do this you’ll need to assess existing customer feedback and decide what you need to do to improve it. You may need to hire more staff to shorten customer wait times, resolve complaints at the first point of contact, or incorporate customer feedback into your planning.
Ask yourself if a 10% growth in 3 months is realistic given your track record so far.
This is an example of a short-term goal, as it can be achieved in 3 months.
🎯 S.M.A.R.T Goal: Increase customer satisfaction survey scores by 10% by the next quarter.
👉 Example # 4: Increasing Sales
Setting S.M.A.R.T. financial goals is extremely important for any startup to succeed.
Increasing monthly sales by 20% this year is a specific goal that will increase your startup’s revenues.
Your goal is measurable. Sales can be tracked month over month to ensure you are making progress.
To set an ambitious yet realistic goal, look at how your sales staff is currently performing and take achievable steps to increase monthly sales. This can include offering incentives to sales staff for meeting monthly targets and launching a marketing campaign.
Make sure you have the resources you need to make this goal realistic. If you need to hire more sales staff to meet your targets but you don’t have the budget for it, consider changing your goal to something more achievable for the time being.
Your one-year target will keep you, and your team focused on your goal.
🎯 S.M.A.R.T Goal: Increase monthly sales by 20% this year by implementing a marketing campaign, offering promotions, and incentivizing sales staff.