Many businesses set goals, but don’t know how to measure their progress against them – and that’s a problem.
Goal-setting is generally important, but in too many instances business goals are made vague – such as ‘I want to improve my revenue’.
If you improve your revenue by $1, does that mean your goal is hit?
Instead, I’ve advised clients to use SMART goals.
These are goals that are:
Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Resourced and Time-framed.
Take this SMART goal from US President John F Kennedy:
“I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.”
I should note that that this speech was a plea to Congress to fund the project, so while it didn’t qualify as ‘resourced’ the goal was ultimately achieved with the moon landing in July 1969.
Such is the power of a SMART goal.
Our business goals may not be as ambitious as JFK’s goal above, but they have an equal chance of achievement if we know how to convert them to action.
1. Break it down
What needs to be done to move you closer to this goal? Here are some of the possible options:
- Increase prices
- Make more sales
- Introduce new products or services
Then break each option you choose into tasks you and your team can start to work on right away.
For example, to “make more sales” you may:
- Improve your marketing
- Find different sales channels
- Make more sales calls
- Meet more prospects
- Outsource any of the above
2. Look for the links
Following the process above, you will have a list of tasks under multiple headings that may seem overwhelming.
As you look at your list, natural links between tasks will become obvious.
For example, it seems reasonable that making more sales calls and having more meetings would be ongoing tasks and can be started right away.
Developing new products, changing your marketing strategy or outsourcing may take longer.
Anyone who has been in business for a while will know that these types of tasks are never-ending and always evolving as you grow your business.
Having a SMART goal to keep you on track is what ensures the tasks are all leading to something and not happening for their own sake.
3. Allocate responsibility
Once you’ve decided what needs to be done, then it’s time to answer the ‘by whom’ part of the equation.
Focus on your goal and what needs to happen to get you there; don’t cherry-pick tasks in isolation because they are easy.
If you miss the step of allocation for every single task on your list, I guarantee if you do achieve your goal it will be more through good luck than good management.
4. Keep track
A natural progression will, hopefully, have become obvious for most of the tasks, where you can see that for B to happen, A has to be complete and you can schedule them accordingly.
Other tasks will be daily, weekly or monthly.
Consider a desire to increase revenue by 25 percent in the next financial year.
This is a project which can made of up several sub-projects. Underneath that is a series of tasks, each with a due date.
We keep track of our tasks and projects with Asana, one of the many simple online tools available.
For client-based sales tasks, we keep track in OnePageCRM, again one of many options available now.
5. When all else fails, work backwards!
If you’re not sure where to start, try imagining that you’ve already reach the end.
Imagine what the last action you could have taken before you got there, and then write that down.
Don’t overthink or even believe that these steps are possible — you are simply working your way back to where you are today.
It’s worth trying a new way of thinking when you feel stuck because while you’re stuck, you’re not taking action.