Set SMART Goals to Grow Your Business

Set SMART Goals to Grow Your Business

It’s the start of a new year and, as always, we’re looking ahead to the opportunities this fresh start can bring. One of the things I do every year is set new goals for myself and for my business.

Notice I didn’t say “resolutions.” For me, a resolution is changing a habit (something like This year I’m going to floss every day.). They’re one-offs that, frankly, are easy to push to the wayside in favor of easier or more immediate gratification.

A goal, on the other hand, is something to work toward. When set in a thoughtful way, goals build upon each other and help you meet an overarching objective.

Goals Are the Keys to Growing Your Business

Setting the right goals is one of the most important ways you’ll grow your business. Keep in mind as you set your goals that you’ll need both short-term and long-term goals.

Short-term goals give you two things: instant gratification (compared to your long-term goals which will take much longer to meet) and something to build on. Your short-term goals keep you motivated to keep moving forward, but they also provide the solid foundation of what you’re building.

Long-term goals give you something to ultimately work toward. It may take several months (or even years) to meet a long-term goal.

How Do I Set My Goals the Right Way?

The way you set your goals is as important as the goals you set. Goals by themselves are easy to ignore. I like to use the SMART method for both short- and long-term goals because it encourages you to build on small successes in order to meet your larger overarching goals. SMART is an acronym for

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Timely

Each goal you set — whether short- or long-term — should adhere to each SMART variable.

Specific Goals

A lot of times when I ask people what their goals are, they respond with something like “I want more sales.” Hmmm. OK, so if I buy a shirt from you, did you meet your goal? Technically you had more sales, but we both know that wasn’t what you meant. Instead, I suggest you be more specific: We want to increase t-shirt sales by 25% in two weeks. When you have a specific goal you can easily see if you’ve reached it or not.

Measurable Goals

The measurable part of goal setting goes hand-in-hand with being specific. When you’re specific, you can easily measure whether or not you’ve met the goal. For example,you could track how many people are clicking from Facebook or Twitter over to your website and completing a specific action (like putting a t-shirt in the shopping cart and completing the sale — or even signing up for your e-newsletter or downloading a free chapter of your new ebook). In the example above (increase t-shirt sales by 25% in two weeks.), you know that you need to measure the change in sales from now to the next two weeks. If you don’t see a 25% increase in sales, you know you’ll need to adjust your methods.

Analytics tools are an important part of gauging your measurable goals, and you can find measurement tools for just about every social platform you’re using. Here are a few tools you may be using (or may want to try):

  • Google Analytics. If you’re particularly concerned with tracking whether visitors complete a specific action, use the funnels and goals options.
  • Facebook Insights. This is Facebook’s analytics tool for your fan page. Pay particular attention to your Engagement numbers. The more engagement you have, the more you show up in the news feed! To find the Insights for your fan page, go to the page and click the See Insights button at the top.
  • TweetReach. You can see who’s talking about your tweet, how many people saw it, and who those people are. You can use this tool for free if you want to do a search here and there. If you want to upgrade, you have that option. If you’re willing to pay a little bit, you can find several more robust Twitter analytics tools.

Check this data regularly to ensure you’re on track to meeting your goals. Make note of where your efforts are working (and do more of that!) and where they aren’t (time to change your approach!).

Attainable Goals

You may find it’s helpful to set smaller achievable goals that build upon each other rather than a few huge goals that may be daunting. If you become overwhelmed or discouraged because you’re not meeting that huge, overarching goal, then you’re more likely to quit. On the other hand, if you have multiple small wins that push you toward the larger goal, those wins can give you the encouragement to continue.

Just a quick tip: It may be tempting to go easy on yourself and set a goal of something you’ve already done and know you can recreate. Resist that impulse! Instead, push yourself to go further than you’re comfortable with, but be realistic. If you’re getting about 10 new fans a week on Facebook, you probably can’t achieve a goal of 100 new fans in a week. You could, however, put some real effort in and achieve a goal of 25 new fans in a week.

Relevant Goals

Set goals that actually impact your business or life. If you aren’t motivated or if the goals are irrelevant to your larger business picture, then you won’t achieve these goals because they aren’t important enough. Create specific and achievable short-term goals that take your long-term goals into account.

Time Specific Goals

If you keep pushing things off indefinitely, you’ll never be done. Set specific dates and events for achievement. Choose a goal, set a deadline. When that goal is achieved, set another one and push the envelope further. When you’re committed to a deadline, you’re more likely to follow through (and you can see the end in sight).

Share Your Goals!

We’d love to hear what your goals are for this year. Please share them in the comments so we can all learn from each other and help keep each other accountable.

6 Responses

  1. Kay January 7, 2014 / 5:19 am

    Hi, Melanie,

    I hope your new year is off to a bang.

    I gave up on resolutions many years ago. I never followed through and always felt like a failure at the end of the year.

    For 2014 I have two very simple goals which both fit your SMART requirements.

    The first is for fun. I want to…no, will, conquer the bun. I blog about natural hair and buns are my favoritest style in the world. (Favoritest means it’s my super extra favorite.) I always have problems getting all of my hair to stay up.

    My second goal is to write 20 minutes a day. This may seem like a pathetic goal to some but it’s already proven beneficial.

    I find that I waste loads of time during the day, particularly with TV and on the internet. My writing comes in spurts and blocks. This makes it hard for me schedule posts and reach goals. The 20 minutes can be on anything from a blog post to my ebook to a magazine pitch.

    I’m feeling good about my goals this year. Finally.

    • Melanie Nelson January 7, 2014 / 8:01 am

      Kay, I completely agree about resolutions. It’s easy not to follow through. I feel like goals are a little easier to manage sometimes because they aren’t so much a habit change as working toward something. I’ve also found that once I make my goals, then I have to put a system in place — a plan that helps me stay on track. Since one of my goals this year is to be less plugged in, I’ve set an alarm on my phone that reminds me to shut down screens at a certain time each night. I know that sounds silly, but without the alarm, I’d just keep going!

      To bring it back around to what you were saying, a) I LOVE buns and can never get my hair to stay in either. But then, my hair doesn’t stay in *any* sort of ‘do. b) I feel ya re: the wasted on time on the internet. I start out researching a topic and next thing you know, my day is gone. Maybe alarms will help us both with this? My friends call them writing sprints: They set the timer for 15-20 minutes, shut everything else down (close tabs or whatever), then write until the timer goes off. If you’re still in the groove, keep going. If you’re not, take a break, then try again later if that’s what you want to do. That idea has helped me a few times.

      I wish you the happiest of new years, Kay! Thanks for your great comment.

  2. Martina McKeough January 7, 2014 / 6:10 am

    Using SMART goals is the way to go. I’m a hypnotherapist and use this life coaching technique with many of my clients. It allows you to progress without ever getting overwhelmed.

  3. Girl Code Here February 6, 2014 / 12:50 am

    Hi again Melanie, I love how you elaborated the SMART acronyms, I think I have done the first 4 but not all the time “timely” lol. I just started my online business last January and I think I still have to study and know more, since I can’t just go and do anything without knowing more about it. But setting smart goals is really a fantastic thing to do in any cases, not just in business. Cheers Melanie, keep it up! :)

    • Melanie Nelson February 16, 2014 / 6:06 pm

      Thanks! I think the SMART goals are something we all have to revisit a few times and see if we’re on track or need to pivot and rethink them. I do, anyway.

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