How often do you set goals? Goal setting may seem like a boring or even tedious task but when you are a small business owner with a million things running at once, you need a way to mark what you are working towards. After all, you can’t manage what you don’t measure.

According to a study by psychologist Gail Matthews at Dominican University, people who write down their goals are up to 20 percent more likely to complete them. Additionally, those who set actionable tasks and monitor their progress tend to achieve their goals 40 percent more.

What this tells us is that writing down your goals and periodically checking in on them is not a waste of time. Instead, it is a great practice to aid in their successful completion.

So should you just start jotting down your goals on a checklist and marking them off when you achieve them? There must be a better framework to utilize to make sure that you are setting yourself up for success with each goal?

Here’s where SMART goals come into play. 

What are SMART goals?

SMART is a handy acronym that creates a helpful framework for you to design your goals. Simply writing down a goal isn’t enough! You need to define the steps you need to take to achieve it as well as how you will measure your success.

EMBED: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_I4oz63wu4&feature=youtu.be

To make sure your goals are clear and reachable, each one should be: 

Specific (Can you drill down and hyperfocus on one area or task?) 

Measurable (Can you assign a number or percentage to measure your progress?) 

Attainable (Can you reasonably achieve this goal, so you don’t lose confidence?) 

Relevant (Can you actually benefit from achieving this goal?) 

Time Sensitive (Can you create a deadline or due date to hold yourself accountable?) 

SMART Goals chart

SMART Goals are a great tool to provide you with the clarity, focus and motivation you need to bring your small business to the next level. SMART goals are also easy to use by anyone, anywhere, without the need for specialist tools or training.

Let’s break it down letter by letter…

Specific

When you are setting a goal you want to be as specific as possible. What is your desired outcome? Do you want to get more email activity or increase your open rate by 5 percent? One of these is measurable and well defined and the other is not.

If you want to focus on improving the results of your email marketing, you have to define what you want to change and how much you want to change it. By setting a specific goal, you are giving yourself a challenge you can accurately measure and achieve. When you are too vague you do not give yourself an actual goal to meet and are more likely to abandon your efforts.

Measurable

Once you have set a specific goal how will you determine whether it has been successfully achieved? This is why setting a goal that can be measured is so important. Let’s say you want to increase email click rates by 5 percent. As part of your goal setting, you will analyze what your current email marketing metrics are to know where you started from and use tools within your email marketing platform to monitor your progress.

How will the goal be measured? What tools will you use to measure success? What channels do you have available to you? Answer these questions before you get started. If you can’t measure success, consider crafting a more specific goal.

Attainable

When setting goals you want to set yourself up for success, so setting a goal to end world hunger might be a little too lofty. Always set goals you can achieve! If you want to increase your email click rates, consider shooting for a 5 percent increase, not 10. If you set a goal that is too difficult to achieve, there is a much greater chance you will give up on it altogether. If you have a big lofty goal, break it down into smaller goals so you can measure your progress more effectively.

Relevant

Will achieving this goal help you or your business right now? When setting goals make sure you are aiming for something that is actually helpful. Creating SMART goals for your email marketing campaigns like increasing your click-through rates are definitely relevant to driving more sales and growing your business. 

Just think about what benefit you’ll receive if you achieve your goal, and remember — if you can’t really define the benefit, it may not be super relevant.

Time Sensitive

Can you create a goal with a deadline that you will hold yourself accountable to? Setting a goal and giving yourself a year might be too much (depending on the goal), so try shooting for a shorter period of time. Make sure that the time you give yourself is enough to get it done but not enough that you will forget about it or kick it down the line in favor of more pressing tasks.

Putting it all together

Now that you have the entire acronym defined it’s time to pull it all together into one simple formula I created for members of our free Bigger Better Biz marketing community

I want to [increase/decrease] my [marketing metric] by [quantity/percentage] through [marketing channel] in the next [length of time.]

SMART Goal Formula

Simply add in the details that are applicable to the specific goal you would like to set for yourself or your business. For example, if you want to increase your email list your statement would look a little something like this…

I want to increase my email marketing list size by 100 subscribers per month through my YouTube channel in the next 60 days.

There you have stated what you want to achieve, the metric you are shooting for, the means in which you will work to achieve it and the timeline it will be achieved on. Create a simple statement like this for each of your goals going forward and you will see that having to define the specifics and measurements will help you find a path to completion more than just a vague statement or idea.

Putting your goals into action

By setting goals, you are holding yourself and your business accountable. Don’t look at goal setting as a pointless task — look at it as the first step to success! You can’t know if you’ve succeeded if you can’t define where you started from.

Once you get started using the SMART goal formula, you will have more clarity and a path forward to completing your goals without adding a ton of work to your plate.