The New Year is here, so you know what that means: New Years resolutions! And if you’re anything like me, this is absolutely going to be the year that you keep your resolutions for all twelve months (fingers crossed).
In all seriousness, we love the idea of New Year’s and new beginnings, but as most of us know and often forget, goals aren’t just meant for January 1st. Goals can be set year-round with multiple deadlines, purposes, etc. But let’s not only try to set goals, but lets try to set S.M.A.R.T goals.
S.M.A.R.T goals are: specific, measurable, action-oriented/attainable, realistic and time-sensitive.
Specific – Specific goals are clear and unambiguous. Details, details, details. Specific goals answer the following W’s: who is involved, what do we want to accomplish, when will it happen, why are we doing this, and where will this take place?
An ambiguous goal would be: recruit more members. A specific goal would be: “I want to recruit 100 more new members (not including renewals) in the Downtown Ann Arbor area by the end of the year. We will do this by hiring a recruiting coordinator so that we dedicate provide the best service to the members of our association.
It’s also worth noting that business goals usually fall into four categories: (1) service, these goals relate to improving customer service and customer retention, (2) social, which includes giving back to the community, (3) profit, goals set to increase profits by a certain percentage, and (4) growth, focusing on expansion of the company (both internally with employees and with its impact on external society).
Measurable – Leave room for improvement! Can you measure your success or the completion of your goals throughout the process? The easiest way to do this is to establish criteria! Is there a benchmark number you would like to meet? A certain percentage of change? Ask your self questions like: how much or how many? Measuring goals often has to do with numbers!
Back to our example, a good measurable stat would be to recruit 25 members per quarter of the calendar year. That way, if you see that it’s not as successful as you’d hope, you can adjust accordingly.
Attainable/Action-Oriented – Depending on the person, you’ll find either of these answers. Your goals should stretch you so that you feel challenged, however defined enough so that you are willing and able to achieve them. Plan carefully and take it one step as a time so that the you are able to chug along and have substantial progress.
What are the first steps to achieve the goal of recruiting 100 members? Maybe it is to design marketing material such a pamphlet, website or to create social media accounts for your association. What’s next? Let’s say you mass email all of the business in your area to make them aware of this opportunity. By completing each step in the process, you are able to see substantial progress and are motivated to continue.
Realistic – It’s true that almost any goal is attainable, but not all of them are realistic. Realistic goals should be some that you are willing and able to achieve. That doesn’t mean that goals can’t be lofty, but it should cause you to take a good look at the time you’re willing to devote to it, the other goals you have in mind, the personnel you have on staff, and the skills you have to accomplish it! You are the only one who can decide how high your goals should be! But as always, you want to consider all the factors!
Let’s again, take our example into consideration: 100 members might be an easy, low goal for a city like New York City or Los Angeles, but not so for a city of 30,000 residents and 250 small businesses! Consider your options within the boundaries you operate inside!
Time-Sensitive: Your goals should be time-sensitive. This includes: when to begin and how long it will last (a deadline). Short-term goals should have a narrower timeline while long-term goals will have an expanded timeline. And like mentioned in the measureable portion of this post, “100 business in a year might seem like a pretty big number, while 25 businesses a month seems much more doable. It’s all about how you look at it!
And finally, the best piece of advice I’ve ever heard (regarding goals) is to write it down and revisit it often! Stay focused, organized and consistent. You change, your environment can change, and so your goals should reflect that. If you get to a point that you realize that your goal isn’t quite viable anymore, adjust your goals so that you can still accomplish something and record that as a success in your book! Goals can be, and should, be the driving force behind your decisions and the vision for your company. Operating your business without goals, is asking for confusion and uncertainty, while operating with a clear of vision of what you want to accomplish gives you something tangible to look forward to and achieve.