How to set SMART goals

As an entrepreneur you want to reach the highest goals and maximise your turnover. But how do you get there? And are the goals you have set feasible? The SMART method helps you to set concrete and clear goals.

SMART goals keep you sharp and focused, whether for individual assignments or an overall communication plan. This is how you set SMART goals.

What are SMART goals?

SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound. The SMART method will help you set clear and concrete goals. This can also be helpful for defining your goals with a business partner. And if you are working on a freelance basis, SMART goals will help you to stay sharp while working towards your goals.

You can apply the SMART method to all types of goals. Setting SMART goals gives you a clear overview of what you want to achieve and how you want to achieve it. Be careful not to let these frameworks stand in the way of your creativity and freedom. If you focus too much on achieving your goal, you may miss out on spontaneous opportunities. Therefore, you can best work with Objectives & Key Results (in Dutch). This will help you determine your goals on 3 levels. This allows you to work in a targeted manner, but keeps you flexible.

Formulating SMART goals

Specific

Make you goals specific. Mention details and make clear what you have in mind. You can do so by describing what you want to achieve in concrete terms. Do not use words that can be interpreted in multiple ways. For example, the word 'healthy' in the goal below is not concrete:

‘This year I want to sell healthier products compared to last year.’

More specific: ‘This year I want to sell products with a sugar percentage that is 30% lower than last year.’

Measurable

Link numbers to your goals. For example, think of how much turnover you want to make, the number of transactions, delivery time, or how satisfied your customers are. Express these numbers in percentages or in fixed numbers. Also make sure you can measure these numbers.

Not measurable: ‘I want to finish all personalised wedding rings quickly.’

Measurable: ‘I want to have 100% of the personalised wedding rings finished within 7 days after the order.’

Acceptable

Everyone involved must agree with the goals you set. Without support, few of your goals will be achieved. Involve colleagues in drafting and learn from past experiences. Only when you and others stand behind the goal, they can be called acceptable.

Not acceptable: ‘I want to expand my delivery service to the village 15 kilometres away within 1 month.’

Acceptable: ‘I want to make 10% more deliveries in my current delivery area within 1 month.’

Realistic

Your goals have to be achievable. The trick is to set goals that are not too easy, but not unachievable. If the goal is too easy, extra effort is unnecessary. But knowing that you have no way of achieving your goal can be demotivating. A realistic goal is an ambitious challenge, that you are happy to work hard for.

Not realistic: ‘I want to double the number of customers in district A within 1 month.’

Realistic: ‘I want 5% more customers in district A within 1 month.’

Time-bound

Write down when the activities start and end. A deadline makes planning easier. When your SMART goal reaches its final step, it is time to evaluate. You then analyse what went well and what could have been improved. Based on this, you set new SMART goals.

Not time-bound: ‘I want to expand my supply with 5 new products.’

Time-bound: ‘I want to expand my supply with 5 new products before the end of this year.’

Examples

How do you apply the SMART method to your own goals? These 3 examples can help you:

Restaurant

A restaurant owner wants more variety in his menu by using more seasonal and regional products. He combines these wishes into a SMART goal for the chef:

'From 21 March, the chef will create 4 new dishes per season with regional products as their main ingredients.'

Website

The owner of a online shop notices that less visitors are visiting her website. By investing in online marketing, the owner wants to increase her reach. Her goal is:

'The marketing campaign will bring 50,000 unique visitors to my website in the first 3 months of this year.'

Driving school

The owner of a driving school sees something remarkable in the ratings of his driving lessons. His teachers are often late. To counter this, he sets the following goal:

'Less than 5% of the reviews in August and September state that the teacher was late.'

Get to work

Convinced of the SMART method? Grab a pen and paper and write down all your goals. Then fine-tune them by applying all criteria. This can take quite some time, but after that you have what you are looking for: sharp and clear goals.

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Goals form the basis of your business plan. Create such a plan with the 9 building blocks of the Business Model Canvas.

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