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Goal Setting The SMART Way

goalIn the beginning of each year, it’s very easy for small businesses to set goals that seem lofty and ambitious. Yet so many of them abandon those goals long before the year is done. What happened? Where did they get off track?

Just like any “New Year’s Resolution” that’s personal such as losing weight, you can have a resolution for your business that feels exciting right out of the gate but quickly loses steam. There are a few reasons for this but fortunately, there’s also a way to adjust for some more realistic goals you can meet, making it easier to stay on course a whole lot longer.

When bad goals happen to good people
Let’s look at the kind of goals you could set for yourself in any given year:

  • I’m going to get more referrals.
  • I’m going to win more business.
  • I’m going to triple my business.
  • I’m going to have more loyal and satisfied customers.
  • I’m going to upgrade all my equipment.
  • I’m going to have fewer callbacks and more jobs done right the first time.

On the surface, there’s nothing wrong with some of those statements. Except you don’t know how you’re going to make it happen. There’s nothing strongly defined. In fact, these goals are so vague that you may not know if you even reached them! Other times, the goal isn't in sync with what you can realistically handle, like tripling your business. Sure, that sounds amazing when you say it, but what’s that going to mean for your time management and ability to dedicate yourself to each job? Are you going to have to hire more people – and can you?

Before you give up on goal setting, realize that it’s not setting goals that’s the problem – it’s about the right kind of goals. That’s where you should take a closer look at setting S.M.A.R.T. goals.

What’s a S.M.A.R.T. Goal?
S.M.A.R.T. stands for the 5 following factors – when they’re combined you’ve got a goal that you can wrap your mind around and “see” it easier:

This first one is huge. Think about exactly what you want to accomplish, why you want to achieve that goal, who else if anyone will be involved in helping you reach it, where precisely the goal needs to happen and when you plan on addressing it. When you’re thinking more exact about every goal, there’s no mistaking as to whether you reached that goal or not.

What target dates do you have for reaching your goal? How much or how many of that item you’re measuring (like dollars, for example) do you need to feel that you've successfully completed the goal? It’s so important to measure success on your own terms so that when you do reach your goal – there will be a sense of tremendous accomplishment. Otherwise, if it’s too vague, it will be a never-ending task that you may never feel you reach, putting you in a position to feel like a perpetual failure when you aren't.

Let’s get real – as in whether or not the specific and measurable goals can actually be achieved in reality. If you’re being honest with yourself and it feels like you just can’t imagine meeting those goals, then that should be a good indication that you need to adjust the goals to be more attainable. Don’t feel bad about downshifting like this. Yes, you want to push yourself but it does you little good to aim so high that you can’t get even close to reaching the goal.

You've thought about a goal that’s specific, measurable and attainable. What more do you need? For one thing, you need to make sure that it’s relevant to your life. Is the timing to reach for this goal right and does it mesh well with everything else that you’re striving for in your business? Is it worth it to you to go for?

Everything can seem like it’s in alignment for your goal. From the precision of what it is to knowing you can reach it to having all the relevance in the world to your business. But if it’s open-ended and doesn't have any kind of time frame to it, there probably won’t be the sense of urgency you want in order to achieve the goal once and for all. Give yourself a proper due date to make the goal happen.

Dani Nichols

I started out with NAPCO in 1996, shortly after it was purchased by Steve Coven. Both Steve and I shared a vision of growth for NAPCO. Always hungry for knowledge, I learned whatever I needed including sales, marketing, web development, operations management, HR, building and retaining a customer base. Whew! It has been a lot of fun because in the end, I really like working with our customers. They make it all worthwhile for me.

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