Setting Goals for Your Business

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There are many famous quotes about the importance of setting goals, but when it comes to setting goals for your small business, where should you start? It all starts by thinking SMART.

SMART is an acronym coined in 1981 by a Washington-based consultant and former Director of Corporate Planning for Washington Water Power Company, George T. Doran. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Assignable (or Actionable), Realistic, and Timely. Here’s how you can use this framework to set goals for your business.


When it comes to setting a goal, the more specific you are, the more likely you are to achieve it. This is partly because setting specific goals allows you to help eliminate the cognitive bias of choice overload. A goal such as, “I want to sell more this year,” isn’t specific. More than what? How much is more? What do you need to do? With all of these questions left unanswered, it can be hard to start down the right path. A goal like, “I want to sell $5,000 of product each month through social media,” is a much more specific goal that can help you more clearly navigate the how.


What is measured is monitored, and when it comes to achieving goals, monitoring is half the battle. Goals need to be specific and quantifiable. “I want more good customers,” isn’t a measurable goal. After all, what is “good?” When it comes to creating measurable goals for your business, it pays to add metrics and benchmarks to your goals. 


Another part of goal setting is understanding who is responsible for the goal and making sure the goal is something that can be acted upon. If you’re running a small business, you may have employees or counterparts that can help you achieve this goal, whereas solo owners and entrepreneurs will be solely responsible. In either case, a SMART goal is one that can be done. This means that, “Have perfect weather on our event date,” would not be a SMART goal because it is not assignable or actionable. However, “Have a backup plan in case of bad weather,” would be.


Shooting for the moon is never a bad thing, but having unrealistic goals will likely set you up for failure. Instead, try creating goals that are realistic for the stage you’re currently at, along with a “stretch goal” that shows your best-case scenario. Remember, you can always set new goals when you achieve them, but failure to meet goals can sometimes produce negative mental effects.


Business owners should set deadlines for their goals. Having a deadline, whether it’s days, weeks, months, or even years into the future, helps to create urgency and encourages people to actively work toward their goals, rather than procrastinate.

If you’ve got business and marketing goals you’re looking to achieve this year, Tolbert Marketing and Events can help! We’re professionals at helping you reach, connect, and maintain relationships with clients and customers. Contact us today for more information!

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