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Starting a business isn’t easy, and running it is even more challenging. New entrepreneurs often feel fear and a lack of motivation, not knowing how to act. Even experienced business owners may be hesitant about their business development. Some may say, “if it works, don’t fix it,” but this isn’t a universal rule.
That’s why SMART goals for business development are crucial for any entrepreneur. This guide will explain how to set goals that work and provide you with seven examples.
What Is a SMART Goal?
It's crucial to understand SMART goals before you can set your own goals to help with your small business development.
The easy way to remember the core characteristics of a SMART goal is to familiarize yourself with the acronym: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. If your goals fit the SMART goal framework, there is little to no chance of failure. So now, let’s take a closer look at the criteria of a SMART goal.
Your goal should be definitive, answering a specific question and setting a specific target. That’s necessary to know exactly how the goal can be achieved and when it has been met. Strive to narrow down your goals as much as possible. Being excited isn’t enough.
Your goals should have some sort of metric to help you track your progress. If your goals truly meet this criterion, you should be able to answer questions starting with “How much?” “How many?” or “How long?” The ability to track your progress also motivates you to achieve further goals.
Set reasonable goals with reasonable deadlines. Consider any additional steps and changes in circumstance that may affect your progress and evaluate your abilities fairly. Breaking down large goals into smaller, more achievable goals helps you stay motivated and fight procrastination. Setting unachievable goals only leads to frustration.
Your goals should help you achieve your long-term plans. If you didn’t come anywhere closer to your main goal after completing your smaller goal, you might have wasted time and effort.
Your goals have a specific deadline that keeps you focused and motivated. Knowing you only have a limited amount of time to complete your tasks is a great push forward. Conversely, goals without deadlines often lead to procrastination.
Only with all these criteria combined do goals become SMART. However, if even one element is neglected, you may have trouble completing your goals. For example, let’s say you’ve set a goal of building a website for your small business.
This goal aligns with your long-term objective, is both achievable and measurable. However, it isn’t specific enough, nor is it time-bound. To make this goal work, you should specify the website functionality, purpose, and deadline.
The SMART framework works not solely in a business goal setting. It can be applied to any life situation, be it work, hobby, self-improvement, or even finding your life purpose. Make sure to check out our detailed guide on the SMART goal framework if you’d like to learn more.
Why Are SMART Goals Important for Small Business Development?
One of the most common reasons small businesses fail is the lack of organization and ambiguity in objectives. However, running a business involves more than just organizational tasks, such as managing resources and employees or dealing with logistics.
For a business to succeed, it should continuously improve – not necessarily by expanding into a larger business, but by maintaining or elevating product or service quality and increasing customer retention.
And if you’re only planning to start a business, you will encounter even more challenges. The top reasons beginning entrepreneurs fail are lack of motivation, procrastination, and fear of starting something new.
In the case of an existing small business, SMART goals are necessary to create a comprehensive business development strategy. For example, you may have a general aim but not know how to achieve it.
By breaking your main objective into SMART goals, you create a path to the next level. Most importantly, your SMART goals for business development should be relevant and specific.
In the case of a beginning small business, SMART goals are even more helpful. Achievable tasks eliminate the fear of starting something new. The broader your goals are, the less achievable they seem.
Time-bound and measurable goals ensure that you don’t waste time instead of moving towards your dream. When you start seeing your smaller SMART goals completed, you’ll receive a boost in motivation that will help you do more and achieve your primary objective even faster.
Now that you know why you need to set SMART goals for business development, let’s look at some examples of such goals:
21 SMART Goals Examples for Small Business Development
1. Improve Employee Efficiency
“Over the next four weeks, I will improve my employee workflow efficiency by evaluating which tasks they’re best at performing and assigning them accordingly. I will measure this every day based on the time it takes to complete a task and the quality of work, changing the tasks every three days.”
S: This statement identifies how exactly you’re planning to improve the workflow efficiency of your employees. Furthermore, it describes how you are going to define which tasks you’re best at performing.
M: The time required for an employee to complete a task is a specific, measurable value. Although the quality of work of one particular employee can’t always be measured objectively, you can compare the quality of work of different employees for justified conclusions.
A: This is an achievable goal, as you can evaluate your employee work quality, measure the time it takes to complete a task, and draw conclusions based on this information.
R: This goal is relevant to any business owner wishing to maximize profits and create a better working environment for their employees by giving them jobs they like and can do well.
T: This statement sets a specific period during which you will closely monitor your employee work. It also defines how often you will evaluate the results.
2. Improve Working Environment
“Over the next six weeks, I will improve the working environment for my employees by collecting anonymous feedback from each individual per week.”
S: This statement specifies how you’re planning to make your team members’ lives at work better – by collecting feedback to consider their wants and needs.
M: Employee feedback serves as an excellent basis for drawing conclusions and setting new goals. Receiving input from each employee each week is a simple metric.
A: This is an achievable goal, taking just a little time collecting and evaluating feedback each week.
R: This goal is relevant to any business owner, as happy employees tend to do their job better and are less likely to leave.
T: This goal will be met in six weeks.
3. Improve Time Management
“Over the next month, I will improve my time management. I will do this by creating a schedule every day and marking tasks I have and haven’t completed and the time I started and finished doing them. I will also reduce the time I spend on my phone and measure it using a dedicated mobile app.”
S: This statement is specific. It defines how exactly you’re going to improve your time management – by creating a daily schedule and reducing the time spent on your phone.
M: The marks on your schedule are a good measure for evaluating and improving your time management. A dedicated mobile app provides insights into the time you’ve spent on your phone.
A: This is an achievable goal, taking just a little time to plan and track progress through the day.
R: Time management is crucial for business success. It helps to improve your overall workflow efficiency, which is beneficial for any business owner and aligns with your main objective.
T: This goal should be accomplished in one month.
4. Improve E-Commerce Website
“Over the next six weeks, I will improve my e-commerce website’s user experience. I will do this by implementing A/B testing and comparing how long visitors remain on the site and how many purchases they make on each site version.”
S: This statement specifies how you’re going to improve your website’s user experience – by implementing A/B testing.
M: The time spent and purchases made on each version of your site are a reasonable metric that helps to determine which site version works better.
A: This is an achievable goal if you have the time and resources to implement A/B testing and can evaluate the results afterward.
R: This goal is relevant for any online business owner, as site design and navigation play a crucial role in e-commerce profits.
T: This goal should be achieved within six weeks.
5. Launch Business Website
“I will launch my business website by the end of November. I will hire a skilled website developer, SEO content creator, and web designer to achieve this goal. I will clearly communicate my vision and goals to them and keep in touch throughout the development process.”
S: This statement specifies what you need to do to launch your website – not only hire professionals but also communicate with them.
M: A completed, functioning website is your measurement.
A: This is an achievable goal, as it simply requires hiring three employees and communicating with them.
R: This is a relevant goal for a beginning entrepreneur to build a business online or start a web business portfolio.
T: This goal should be met by the end of November.
6. Improve Customer Service and Product Quality
“I will improve my customer service and product quality by collecting customer feedback on my brand’s social media and my website over the next 12 weeks. I will pay attention to negative feedback to define which sides of my business require more work.”
S: This statement specifies how you will improve your customer service and product quality – by collecting customer feedback and addressing negative comments.
M: Customer reviews are your measurement. You can track how customer feedback regarding specific points changes throughout the 12 weeks.
A: This is an achievable goal, requiring only that you analyze feedback on your company’s social media and website.
R: This is a relevant goal for any small business owner. Excellent customer experience and product quality ensure better customer retention and, consequently, higher profits.
T: This goal will be accomplished within the next 12 weeks.
7. Attract More Customers
“Over the next four weeks, I will attract more customers by promoting my posts on social media. After that, I will measure the results based on the follower and order number.”
S: This statement specifies that you will reach new potential customers by promoting your social media posts.
M: The number of new followers and change in the number of orders is your measurement.
A: This goal can be achieved by regularly devoting some time to promoting social media posts.
R: This goal is relevant to any small business owner wishing to reach new audiences and expand their business.
T: This goal will be completed within four weeks.
8. Reduce Business Expenses
“In order to reduce business expenses, I need to stop outsourcing so much. With this in mind, within the next two months, I will have one of the current employees trained in doing payroll and I will hire one part-time employee to take care of cleaning and maintenance.”
“In this way, I can eliminate the outside payroll services and cleaning companies. I estimate that this alone will save several thousand dollars within the year.”
S: This is very specific. It lists what will be done, how it will be achieved, and the timeframe of the action.
M: This goal is measurable. You can know if you stopped some services and hired a person, as well as trained another person. For the amount of money saved, you only need to figure out the cost involved in paying the new employee and training the current one and subtracting that amount from the amount you would normally have paid for the other two services during a year.
A: This is an attainable goal that should be easily put into place.
R: This is relevant to cutting expenses. In-house employees often cost less than a specialized service and these are two positions that lend themselves well to in-house employees.
T: This goal is time-bound because you state you will do this within two months.
9. Become More Eco-Friendly
“To start becoming a business that is more aware of our impact on the environment, all paper will now be placed in a bin to be shredded and used as packing material.”
“This will begin immediately and is just the first step as I research more options to make us more eco-friendly by the end of the year.”
S: While future actions aren't specified here, the act of having a required bin for papers to be shredded and used as packing material is definitely specific.
M: Measuring the impact on the environment isn't measurable, but this goal is in that you have visual evidence of it being done.
A: This goal is attainable as long as each employee is aware of what needs to be done and cooperates. You might need to find a way to ensure employee cooperation.
R: Recycling paper and reducing the use of such items as Styrofoam or plastic for shipping is a great way to save on adding to environmental distress and help become eco-friendly.
T: Starting immediately is most definitely a time-bound element in regard to this goal.
10. Improve Teamwork among my Employees
“To foster employee teamwork, I will schedule monthly team-building seminars. These will include activities that allow employees to fully get to know each other and realize how success depends upon working together.”
“Two of the activities will include an escape room and also a weekend camping trip, where each employee will be responsible for one portion of the trip – such as gathering firewood or preparing food.”
S: This is specific. The only way to make it more specific would be to give a precise month that these activities would be starting and an estimated time at least for when the camping trip would take place.
M: The measurement is built in by keeping track of each meeting or event. Keeping track of attendance will help measure the success of the meetings, and see if there is a correlation between the meetings and increased productivity can also be noted.
A: Scheduling these meetings and events is perfectly attainable. With a bit of planning and research, acceptable activities can be put into place.
R: Studies have shown that a spirit of teamwork often creates a better work atmosphere than one of severe competition. Happy employees who care about each other often care more for the company and will give their best.
T: Stating that there will be a meeting or activity every month makes this a time goal, but it could be made more so by stating when these activities will start.
11. Add a New Service or Product
“I need to expand the services I offer customers. Instead of being a simple dog groomer, I will utilize warehouse space that is currently sitting empty to design a pet daycare center for dogs. This will be ready to open in four months and I will work on getting the word out now to help garner interest.”
S: This is very specific. You state what you will do and how you will go about doing it. You also state when you plan on having the goal met.
M: This goal is measurable in that you can make a list of activities that need to be completed in order to convert the warehouse and create an acceptable place for a daycare. Each step you can check off measures a step closer to the completion of the goal.
A: With the proper planning of sub-goals, this main goal is completely attainable.
R: Adding a doggie daycare to your grooming business is definitely relevant to both adding additional services and growing your business.
T: You have given yourself a time-bound goal by stating that it will be completed in four months.
12. Promote a Deeper Community Connection
“I want to start making connections with the community so they think of me in positive terms. To this end, I will host a summer block party in August. It will include live music, free hot dogs and drinks, a free drawing for prizes, and activities for the kids. ”
S: This is a very specific goal. It lists exactly what you will do and what it includes. It also gives a general time period in which you will do this.
M: The goal itself is measurable. You will know if you actually hold the event and you can even get a good estimate of how well attendance turns out. You won't be able to measure its effectiveness in gaining a deeper community connection for a time, however.
A: With hard work and planning, this is an entirely achievable goal.
R: Holding an event like this is relevant to connecting with the community. It is a way to make people feel like you care about them and it gets you noticed.
T: Setting aside time in August makes this a time-bound goal.
13. Open Another Branch
“It is time to start giving easier access to customers who may not be familiar with this side of town. One year from now, I will open a second location of my business across town that offers the same products and services with less travel time for customers.”
S: This goal states a specific thing you want to do and even mentions why, which gives you incentive. Adding in when you want to open the branch and the general geographical area makes it even more specific.
M: This is measurable. You will know when you actually open the branch. In addition, the steps needed to accomplish this will be the measurement of how much progress you are making.
A: This is attainable as long as you have the funds available to make it happen.
R: Opening a second location is definitely relevant to expanding your business as it allows you to potentially double your sales.
T: You have made this time-bound by giving yourself a one year deadline.
14. Increase Website Traffic
“Over the course of the next 12 months, I will improve the amount of website traffic by 25%. I will do this by using content marketing and SEO optimization. I will outsource content creation using a team of writers familiar with SEO to bring in fresh ideas. I will measure this quarterly using website analytics tools to ensure we are on track and trending upward in visits to our website.”
S: This statement shows your intention to increase website traffic by 25% through SEO optimization and content marketing efforts.
M: The progress you make towards the goal will be measured using website analytics tools.
A: The goal can be attained because, in your efforts to succeed at increasing traffic to your website, it is well-known that SEO optimization and content marketing efforts have been proven to increase website traffic to other sites.
R: The goal is relevant because a 25% increase in website traffic is a reasonable target for your timeframe of a year with intentional marketing efforts.
T: The goal you’ve stated is time-bound because it has a specific deadline for the end of a 12-month period.
15. Boost Sales
“Within the next quarter, I will improve sales by 15%. In order to accomplish this, I will offer exclusive promotions to repeat customers, tracking purchases with in-house software applications. I will also implement targeted email and direct mail marketing campaigns.”
S: To accomplish your goal of boosting sales, you’ve set a specific goal to reach 15% to be accomplished in the next quarter.
M: The progress towards the goal can be measured using past and current sales figures.
A: Your goal is attainable because offering exclusive promotions to repeat customers and implementing targeted email and direct marketing campaigns have been proven to increase sales.
R: The goal you’ve set is relevant to your business because a 15% increase in sales is a realistic and reasonable target for your quarterly timeframe and the efforts you’ve set forth.
T: The goal is time-bound because it has a specific deadline of the next quarter for you to assess your progress.
16. Reduce Overhead Costs
“Over the next six months, I will reduce overhead costs by up to 10%. I will do this by analyzing current and projected expenses for my business. I also plan to negotiate better deals with my current suppliers. For instance, I will look at market values and set prices for goods and services accordingly.”
S: To reach your goal of reducing overhead costs by 10% in the next six months, you’ve created specific and realistic parameters.
M: The progress you’ll make towards the goal can be measured using your financial statements and your budget reports.
A: The goal can be attained due to analyzing expenses and negotiating better deals with suppliers can reduce overhead costs.
R: The goal is relevant because a 10% reduction in overhead costs is a reasonable target for six months, plus the parameters you’ve set.
T: Your goal is time-bound because it has a specific deadline of the next six months.
17. Release a New Product Line
“I will take steps within the company to launch a new product line by the end of a 12-month period. With the release of this new product line, the company will realize a 20% increase in revenue.”
S: You’ve set your expectations of launching a new product line specifically by the end of the year. Plus, you’re set to achieve a 20% increase in revenue within the first six months of its release.
M: Your progress towards this goal can be measured using sales figures and revenue reporting.
A: The goal is attainable because launching a new product line and achieving a 20% increase in revenue within six months is achievable if the product is well-received and marketed effectively, which is what you’ve planned to do.
R: The goal is relevant and realistic because a 20% increase in revenue is doable for a successful new product line within the time given.
T: Your goal is time-bound because it has a specific deadline of the end of twelve months of the product launch.
18. Improve Customer Satisfaction Ratings
“I plan to improve customer satisfaction ratings by up to 90% by the end of the next quarter. I will do this by taking action on customer feedback survey information. I will also address common customer complaints in a timely manner using appropriate language and offering appropriate solutions.”
S: You’ve specified how you’ll improve customer satisfaction ratings to 90% by the end of the following quarter.
M: The progress you’ll make towards your goal will be measured using customer satisfaction surveys.
A: The goal is attainable because you’ll be using customer feedback surveys and addressing common complaints that can quickly improve customer satisfaction.
R: Your goal is realistic because setting a 90% customer satisfaction rate should be achievable with your use of effective customer service and complaint resolution.
T: The goal is definitely time-bound as it has a specific deadline of the end of the next quarter.
19. Increase Our Social Media Following
“By the end of the next quarter, I plan to increase followers for our social media platforms by 20%. I will accomplish this with targeted advertising campaigns. I will also employ the use of user-generated content that will appeal to our target audience.”
S: You’ll use social media content and ad campaigns to specifically increase your following by 20%. You can do this using targeted ad campaigns and user-generated content that you can efficiently hire on a contract basis.
M: Your efforts will help the company to realize a 20% increase in its social media following.
A: The goal can be attained when you use targeted ad campaigns and user-generated content to reach potential followers on your social media platforms.
R: Your goal will be relevant as long as you ensure your ads and content are effective in reaching potential followers.
T: Your goal is time-bound as you’ve set it for the end of the following quarter.
20. Improve Employee Retention
“Within one year, I will improve employee retention rates by 80%. I will do this by implementing employee recognition programs. I will also offer professional development opportunities to employees at all levels to not only retain them but to make them feel the company invests in them.”
S: Your investment in current employees will help them feel appreciated and improve employee retention. Your goal of reaching rates of 80% through implementing employee recognition programs and professional development opportunities is specific.
M: You will easily be able to measure employee retention rates to make sure you will reach your goal of 80% by using company metrics.
A: Your goal is attainable, provided the employee recognition programs and professional development opportunities are effective in retaining your current employees.
R: It is realistic for you to expect an increase in retention rates with the implementation of such programs.
T: Your goal is time-bound by the end of one year from implementation.
21. Expand Geographic Reach
“I will expand the company’s geographic reach by establishing partnerships with local businesses. I plan to accomplish this by attending industry-specific trade shows. I will concentrate on trade shows in new regions. I will use the company metrics to measure progress for this ongoing process.”
S: As you expand the company’s geographic reach, you’ll accomplish this by establishing partnerships with local businesses and attending industry-specific trade shows in new regions.
M: You’ll be able to measure your success using your company’s metrics, which you’ll track as your geographic reach grows with new regions through partnerships and trade shows.
A: Your goal is attainable when the partnerships and attendance at trade shows are effective in expanding the company’s reach.
R: Your goal is relevant as it is realistic for you to expect the company’s geographic reach to expand with the implementation of your strategies.
T: Although your goal is ongoing, your progress can be measured at set intervals while it will continue to be ongoing overall.
Final Thoughts on SMART Goals for Small Business Development
Setting SMART goals for business development is the easiest way to succeed. Reasonably evaluating your ability to achieve them, setting deadlines, and being specific helps you stay motivated and fight the fear of failing. And if you still doubt that setting SMART goals will help you achieve your objectives, consider checking out our detailed article on goal-setting theory.
And if you want more SMART goal ideas and examples, be sure to check out these blog posts:
- 15 SMART Goals Examples for Increasing Your Sales
- 15 SMART Goals Examples That Fit Your Marketing Plan
- 6 SMART Goals Examples for Digital Marketing Professionals
- 7 SMART Goals Examples for Improving Your Networking Skills
- 7 SMART Goals Examples for Time Management & Productivity
- How to Resist Shiny Object Syndrome and Focus on What’s TRULY Important
Finally, if you want to take your goal-setting efforts to the next level, check out this FREE printable worksheet and a step-by-step process that will help you set effective SMART goals.