In business we talk a lot about goals, and they come in all shapes and forms – sales targets, growth expectations, proposed machinery acquisition, and performance goals for staff.

These goals are key to the future direction of an enterprise, but they’re not just arbitrary wishes that business owners cast out to the universe with their fingers crossed that dreams come true.

Effective goal setting involves being very clear about what you want to do, with a timeframe in mind and measurements in place to ensure you get where you hope to go.

Since the 1980s this outcome-driven goal setting has been known as SMART, and it’s one of the most popular and effective means of setting realistic goals that a business can actively achieve.

Here’s how SMART goal setting works, and how you can employ its power…

SMART goal setting

Coined in the early ‘80s as a management tool, the term SMART is a simple acronym to ensure goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. It allows business to give goals actionable clarity, a time frame and measure progress during implementation.

Importantly SMART goal setting allows business to think through their objectives considering what, who, why, how, and when.

Here’s a quick guide to the elements and what they cover…

Specific

Goals may be based on dreams but they need to be specific to be actionable and this involves considering the who, what, when, which and why behind their application. Who or what will contribute to achieving an outcome, why are they working to this goal, how and when will it occur?

Measurable

Business progress is best tracked through measurement, so all goals should have set criteria that enables you to ascertain whether a plan is working. This allows you to revise the required actions if necessary in order to meet the objective.

Attainable

Establishing goals that are attainable involves considering how you will achieve an outcome and acquiring the attitudes, skills, abilities and procedures necessary to do so.

Realistic

Are your goals realistic? Nothing kills motivation quite as effectively as an unrealistic expectation that can never be met. To ensure your goals are realistic you may need to establish milestones, actions and criteria to get you to a larger outcome in the future.

Timely

Goals should be bound to a specific timeframe to ensure they remain a priority and are enacted.

Over recent years some organisations have even gone a step further than just SMART goal setting, in a bid to make their objectives SMARTER.

In this instance two further criteria are applied to the establishment of goals to ensure goals are Evaluated and Reviewed.

Evaluated

Set regular time periods to gauge how your goals are progressing or whether they remain an effective and relevant aim. This involves analysing the measurements and ascertaining whether you are on track or need to revise your strategy to attain the outcome you desire.

Reviewed

Whether complete or still in progress, goals should be reviewed regularly. This allows you to tick the box when a milestone has been met, set further objectives for future planning, or reassess the effectiveness of current strategies you have in place.

The final word

Goal setting is an important element of any business, ensuring your enterprise is moving forward, staying fresh or growing.

The art is to keep your goals clear and achievable in the knowledge they’re SMART.

SMART goal setting is just one of the tools used to assist business owners design the future of their choosing. For more strategies, tools and further assistance with business development, goal setting and planning, contact Clive Enever – The Business Mentor.

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