Updated: May 2
Setting SMART goals is a tool that will help you clarify exactly what you need to do and in what time frame. It helps you focus your efforts so that you can be more productive with your time, money and resources and ultimately increases your chances to succeed or achieve what you want to within your business and in life!
In this blog, we'll explore exactly what SMART goals are, and how you can implement them within your own business.
Hello, I’m Georgia and I started off as a wedding and lifestyle photographer before branching out into the field of personal branding, mentoring and business coaching. I want to see many more entrepreneurs succeed in business and that all their (your) hard work and sacrifice pays off! I would love to connect with you and find more out about your success stories and the lessons you have learnt along your business journey so feel free to connect with me via social media, and if you enjoy this article then please join the family by signing up to my newsletter and emailing list to receive exclusive content, freebies and offers – to get you started you can have 5 free stock photos to use on your social media.
SMART is an acronym for 5 different areas that you should look at when setting your goals. Depending on where you read about this the words can be substituted for slightly different ones, but for the purposes of this blog we will look at these 5:
Some authors have also expanded it to include extra focus areas; SMARTER, for example, includes Evaluated and Reviewed to make sure people don't forget to look back and learn from what worked what didn't and also get feedback from others. Today we're just looking at the 5 SMART points to cover when you're setting your goals initially.
A specific goal gives you something clear to focus on otherwise you won't feel motivated to achieve it. Your specific goal should answer these questions:
What objective needs to be accomplished?
Why is it important?
Who is responsible for it?
What steps will you take to achieve it?
Asking yourself these questions when you are setting your goals will help you layout realistic goals so that you know how to accomplish them.
So we go from something vague like: "I want my business to grow" to "I want to launch 2 mini courses on social media marketing and one large goal setting course online to take advantage of the increase in desire for online education."
Being specific is great but how do you know how far to go or when to stop without numbers? Putting a number to your goal helps you to track how well you're doing and when you've actually reached the goal. Below are a few questions to ask yourself to make sure you keep your goals measurable:
How can you measure when it's accomplished?
A good example for measurable would change: "More Instagram followers" to "Increase Instagram following by 200 in May." This way, when it gets to the end of May you will know whether you've reached your goal or not, and you know exactly how much you're aiming for.
Goals need to be realistic, if you set a goal for yourself that isn't attainable, all it's going to do is leave you uninspired and potentially demoralised when you don't reach it no matter how hard you try. Your goal should challenge you but still remain possible to achieve. Things to take into account when you're making sure your goal is attainable are:
Is it financially doable?
Do I have the time?
Do I have the manpower (e.g. will it need more than you? If so, do you have team members or can you outsource?)
Do I have the right resources accessible?
How am I going to accomplish this goal?
If I was to set myself a goal of increasing my income by 300% within the next month, it would be pretty unrealistic unless by some miracle my YouTube channel went viral or I started booking 20 celebrity weddings a year. But to set a realistic goal for income increase that has simple steps to assist that goal would be worthwhile! It's all about figuring out what you can and can't do but still making sure you're pushing yourself to grow!
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This is all about making sure that this goal matters to you, or at least matters to the success or growth of your business. There's no point just setting a goal for the fun of it, you need to make sure the goal actually benefits your overall growth.
A relevant goal can answer "yes" to these questions:
Does this seem worthwhile?
Is this the right time?
Does this match my other efforts/needs?
Am I the right person to reach this goal?
This is by no means and exhaustive list and if you can say yes to all the above questions, I'd urge you to write down why because you may find when digging a little deeper that the goal might still need some tweaking.
An example for me in my business is this:
I am very passionate about body confidence and women seeing how beautiful they truly are, so I was interested in venturing into the world of boudoir/body confidence photography, however at the time, my branding photography was just taking off and the timing didn't make sense. It made much more sense to focus on growing all the things in my business that would serve my branding clients better rather than launching something completely new focussed on a completely different type of client.
Speaking of... if you're interested in having some updated, professional-looking photographs, curated especially for your business... why not pop me a message? I'd love to work with you!
Good goals don't just stretch on forever, they have a target date or deadline. Giving yourself deadlines (especially if you're your own boss!) really help you to prioritise your time efficiently, therefore, making you far more productive.
A time-bound goal will usually answer these questions:
What can I do six months from now?
What can I do six weeks from now?
What can I do today?
Here's an example of a sales goal from lovetoknow.com that contains all of these separate characteristics within the SMART acronym:
Not: Increase sales by 50 percent
Instead: To meet the sales objective of booking $1,000 in yearly orders, two additional salespeople will be hired to grow sales of red widgets by 10 percent in the first quarter, 15 percent in the second quarter, five percent in the third quarter and 20 percent in the fourth quarter.
Why: The goal is very specific (red widgets), measurable, and achievable. The project has been realistically resourced and targets have been thoughtfully arranged through the year to accommodate business conditions. The goal links back to a higher-level objective. Further, it is time-bound (to be completed in one year with quarterly targets).
Here’s another example of a goal perfect for the SMART system from Elegant Themes. Email subscribers can be a huge asset to almost any type of website. The more subscribers you have, the greater number of conversions you can win. Here’s how you could break down this goal:
Specific: Your goal is to grow your email subscribers list to a specific number, such as 500 members.
Measurable: This goal is easy enough to measure. Simply keep an eye on your email marketing platform, and pop the champagne once your list hits 500 members.
Attainable: This metric is always going to be unique to you, although 500 subscribers is a solid target for a small blog with decent traffic.
Relevant: Growing your email list is always a relevant goal if you’re running a website, blog, or marketing any type of product online.
Time-Bound: The timeframe for this goal will depend on how much traction your website already has. If you’re starting off, six months would be a reasonable window to get to this point, provided you work on your SEO.
Ok, I hope those examples have been helpful. You’ve already taken a great first step by using the SMART acronym to set attainable, measurable, results-based targets. Now you need to put that into action!
Start off by:
Writing it down! Lots of research says that you are far more likely to attain your goal if you write it down. Write it down and keep it somewhere safe, or even better somewhere visible like your office wall!
Be Accountable - Share it with someone else. Finding supportive, positive people who can encourage you to keep heading towards your goal is so important and it will also keep you on track knowing that someone else is going to check in on you!
Complete something each day - The fact that you've given yourself a deadline doesn't mean that you should be like the classic Uni student doing an all-nighter to get the work finished just minutes before the deadline. Pick at least one task to do to work towards that goal each working day keeping it manageable and therefore more likely that you'll reach it!
For more advice on developing your business, as well as choosing your central ideas, core themes and goals - check out this blog post!
As with anything in life, setting goals in your business will really help keep you on track and remind you to keep growing and moving forward. If setting goals is a struggle for you some people find it really helpful to have a business coach. A business coach is an experienced outside eye who can help you set goals and give you ways to keep on track. Having someone who isn't emotionally invested giving you advice can really help you see potential positives and pitfalls in your business plans and goals. In the same way someone might hire a personal trainer to keep them on track with their fitness goals, a business coach can do just that!
If you're interested in having me as your business coach to help you set goals and break those down into manageable tasks that you can work on each day then pop me a message here, I'd love to get to know you and help your business expand!
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