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small business advice

The quickest way to set your business' goals

Understand your current business position, then define attainable SMART goals and a plan for achieving them.

Desley Grant

Oct 19, 2018

You’ve been trying to determine the path your business should take, but it’s more difficult than you expected.

The strain shows when you try to wear too many hats. Setting goals will provide structure, by focusing your attention on what you want to achieve. When business tasks are purposeful, it’s much easier to work on them.

In this blog, we run through five steps to set up business goals.


SMART goals

You’re probably familiar with SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound) goals, as this acronym helps businesses achieve realistic success.

Specific - be clear, not vague

Measurable - keep track of progress

Attainable - it should be possible

Relevant - it must benefit the business

Time-bound - keep your focus, get it done

Here's how you can put this acronym into action.

1: Evaluate your current position

Begin by getting an understanding of your business' current position. You need an honest assessment of your business before you make your goals as this process is about realistic goal setting.

This works because knowing your current business performance gives you greater insight into what processes are necessary (and which are not). It's all about goals that are relevant rather than idealistic.

2: Define quantifiable goals

While it may seem obvious, it can be hard for business owners to define what they're really trying to accomplish. Your goal must be worth the effort you’ll put in, which requires a bit of number crunching.

Most importantly, your goals should be clearly laid out and in some way measurable, not an abstract ideal that you can’t really say is complete or not. You’ll likely encounter setbacks and failures along the way. Knowing the end point and being able to measure your progress will help you persevere.

3: Make your goals specific

You’ve got a better chance of success when your goals are clearly outlined. That’s because we’re more motivated by tangible results - changes we can measure or observe.

As well as a clear idea of the end result (what it is you’re working to achieve), you should also create a roadmap towards it. Step out the process into smaller chunks, or checkpoints if you prefer. Each step of the way, you should know:

  • What you’re trying to achieve
  • Why you want to complete this goal (what do you gain?)
  • When it’ll be achieved by
  • Where in your business this is happening
  • Who is doing the work
  • Which resources are needed


4: Prepare for change internally

Customer and industry needs change all the time, as new trends, technologies, strategies and even legislation are factored in. Whatever’s coming, you need to be prepared - you, your business, and your staff.

Consider what might happen next in your industry. What are your customers asking now for - and what are they no longer interested in? What are you hearing in your industry or line of business? Are there gaps that you can help fill?

5: Task out how the goals will be completed

You’ve made a list of SMART business goals - great! Now you need to work out how to make it happen. It’s usually helpful to break large tasks into smaller ones that aren’t as daunting. To be realistic about what you can achieve, keep the following factors in mind:

  • Timeframe - your estimates, including dates
  • Outcome - how you’ll know that you’ve achieved it
  • Resources - staff / money / equipment
  • Actions - each step in detail
  • Responsibilities - who undertakes each step
Find a simple way to keep track of completed actions on the way to the main goal, such as a to-do list. It may help to have small rewards for achieving smaller checkpoints on the way to the larger goal.

Business goal setting is incredibly important and too often overlooked. It helps you focus on what needs to be achieved, and gives you structure and a plan for when you’re outside your area of expertise.

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