If you’ve been in the work environment for any amount of time, then chances are you’ve heard the term “SMART goals” before. But how does it apply outside of a job? How can you set SMART goals as an entrepreneur?
That’s what I’m going to address in this post, and by the end, you should have a very clear idea of not only why you should set SMART goals as an entrepreneur, but also how you can do just that.
Before we dive in though, even though you’re probably familiar with what SMART goals are, here’s a quick refresh (you can read my full post about what SMART goals are here):
What SMART goals stand for:
S = Specific (your goal should be clear and specific)
M = Measurable (you need to be able to measure it, quantify success vs failure)
A = Attainable (you need to be able to reach your goal)
R = Relevant (it needs to be in line with your overall vision)
T = Time frame (you need to know by when you want to achieve this goal)
Ok, now that we’re all on the same page, let’s dive in!
Why you need SMART goals as an entrepreneur
Very often, people associate SMART goals with their 9 – 5 job, with their performance reviews and with their hierarchy in the job place.
And of course there’s a reason for that; it’s simply because the SMART goal system is highly efficient, and has a high success rate. It also makes it very simple for your boss to determine whether or not you’ve achieved your goals for the past year (because they were clearly established and measurable, with a clear success threshold), making it easy for them to know if you get that bonus or not.
But SMART goals are not, and should not be limited to the office.
If you’re starting a business, then this is a great example of when you should use SMART goals as well. They will give you clarity and help you prioritize the next steps that need to be taken. They are a fantastic tool to use!
If you’re an entrepreneur, you really should be setting up SMART goals for yourself.
TIP: You don’t have to figure it all out yourself! If this is something you struggle with, them download my free workbook down below!
How to set SMART goals as an entrepreneur
It can be a bit daunting to set SMART goals for yourself, as you don’t know what to set, what to focus on, or how to formulate them in a specific way that will make them SMART.
So here are some tips to get you started:
1 – Know your overall goal
If you’re starting a business, then this will likely be to get your business off the ground. This may seem over-simplistic, but it’s not. It’s important for your strategy to have a clear vision of where you want to go.
So take a moment to get clear on that; is your big goal to get your business off the ground? Be clear on it before moving on.
2 – Break down that bigger goal into smaller goals
If your big goal is to start a business, then your smaller goals could be to get a loan, to get your website up and running, or to set up your social media profiles.
Take some time to determine ALL of the smaller things that need to be achieved for you to reach your big goal.
Chances are, you won’t think of it all right away, and that’s fine. Just write as much as you can think of, then when something else pops into your mind, add it to the list.
Some examples could be writing your business plan, getting a loan, getting investors, setting up a budget, and so on.
3 – Choose ONE of those smaller items to focus on
Now it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty of things. It’s time to choose ONE item from the list in step 2 to focus on.
For this, you need to determine priorities.
What is the FIRST thing that you need to do? The ONE thing that comes before all the rest, without which you can’t (or shouldn’t) move forward?
Very often, the first step you should take in creating a business is writing your business plan. Depending on what kind of business you are starting, you will need either a very detailed plan (especially if you are going to be looking for a loan or investors), or you may need just a very basic one (if you are aiming to start small, and need no additional funds to begin, for example).
No matter what though, you really should start with a business plan.
That said, decide on your own priorities. Once you have chosen one, AND ONLY ONE item to focus on, write it in SMART goal form.
4 – Write it in SMART goal form
Now is when you write it down in that magical way that’s going to help you get it done.
Remember, what makes SMART goals so potent are the fact that they are written in a specific way.
This is what makes them so efficient.
So take some time to phrase and rephrase your goal as many times as you need. If I continue with the example above, writing down “write a business plan” is NOT a SMART goal.
It falls into hardly any of the SMART categories.
But if you write something like: ” By the end of the month, I will have written a business plan that goes over my business concept, the specific actions I will take, the market I will pursue, as well as the financing needs.”
This works a lot better. Is it Specific? Yes. Is it Measurable? Yes (you know what result you need in order for your goal to be achieved). Is it Attainable? Yes. Is it Relevant? If you’re looking to start a business, then yes, 100%. Is it within a time-frame? Yes.
Take some time to go through all your smaller goals that you’ve listed in point 2, and write them down in SMART goal form.
TIP: Need some help with this? Download my FREE SMART goal workbook at the bottom of this post!
5 – Break down the SMART goals into actionable items
Even though you’ve set your goals in SMART form, they can still seem overwhelming. How do you even begin to write your business plan? There’s a lot of information that needs to go in it, and if you’re not comfortable with business terms, it can seem like too much.
So break it down into small, manageable chunks.
Nothing says you can’t set smaller SMART goals for the bigger one.
So set something like: “By the end of the week, I will have written the “business concept” paragraph of my business plan, where I will go into detail about the industry, my business structure, what my particular product or service is, and how it is different from my competition as well as how I aim to achieve success”.
If this still seems overwhelming, them break it down into even smaller chunks. Just keep breaking it down until it seems manageable.
That’s the secret to SMART goals; they need to be attainable, right? Otherwise, you’re just going to want to give up right away, because it just seems like too much.
So break down your goals until you’ve got something you feel you can manage!
Still need help?
I know how daunting this can seem, but it really doesn’t have to be! And to help you, I’ve designed a really great workbook!
It’s designed specifically to help you think about what your goals should be, how you can define your priorities, and how you should formulate them.
So if you still need help, download it down below!
What about you? Do you use SMART goals in your start-up business? Are there any tips or thoughts you’d like to share? I’d love to hear, leave a comment down below!
I hope to hear from you soon, and in the meantime, take care!
PS. Don’t forget to pin this for later!