Setting SMART Goals in a Small Business

Many business coaches will encourage their clients towards setting SMART goals. As a goal setting strategy this model is easy to use and remember but like any other skills it can take time to learn how to do it effectively.

SMART stands for; specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time framed.

If you check your goals meet these criteria when you set them you'll be far more likely to achieve them.

SMART goal setting is about defining your action steps ie. what you're going to do to achieve your vision.

When you start setting SMART goals for your business you should think in terms of goal setting short terms and long term as well as the immediate future.


Goal setting example: Hair Salon

Let’s say our Vision is to be ‘The most creative and artistic Hair Designer in the region.’

We decide that for this vision to be realized we need to focus on:

  • Staff training
  • Achieving design excellence awards
  • Exceeding customer expectations
  • Financial freedom (to follow creativity)
  • More than one salon in the region

Clearly with a vision like this, the hairdressing salon will not be catering for the customer who requires a ‘quick and cheap’ haircut. This market would belong to a different hairdresser with a very different vision.

So, based on these key areas we can start developing and setting SMART goals. Let’s start with the first focus area; staff training. If the first focus area is done well, the second focus area will be easy to achieve.

Staff Training – 5 Year Goal

1. By (date) we will have a team of 5 professional hair stylists and 5 apprentices who are all contributing to the reputation of excellence in creativity and artistic hair design by winning awards and being featured in local and national magazines.

"Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it in to small jobs" (Henry Ford)

Then ask yourself: Is this a SMART goal? It is time framed, and it is specific and measurable. Whether it is achievable and realistic is for you, the business owner to decide. After setting SMART goals you then need to break it down to smaller goals.

Staff Training – 1 year Goal

1. By (date) we will have recruited 2 new hair stylists and one apprentice who have the talent and ability to excel in creative and artistic hair design.

This will enable you to define what you’re looking for during the recruitment process and what your expectations are of staff in the job. This will make the goal easier to measure. Once a clear goal is set you can break it down further by developing strategies. The strategies are how you are going to achieve your goal.

1.1. Develop a staff culture statement and recruitment guidelines

1.2. Recruit and induct two new hair stylists

1.3. Develop ongoing in-house training opportunities for staff

1.4. Develop training plan that includes external training opportunities.

Once you have established the strategies you will use to achieve your goal you can then develop a full blown action plan. An action plan gives you the who, what, where and when of your goal.

For example:

Action Plan

1. By (date) we will have recruited 2 new hair stylists and one apprentice who have the talent and ability to excel in creative and artistic hair design.

1.1 Develop Staff Culture Statement and Recruitment Strategies

Research appropriate inclusions to staff culture (what is important to us) - Chris by April 12

Develop Document and distribute to key stakeholders to read and consider - Chris by April 15

Rewrite culture statement based on feedback - Chris by April 22

Develop job descriptions - Brenda by April 30

Develop Basic job schedule - Brenda by April 30

Develop Advertisement - Brenda by May 9

Develop Recruitment process, including interview questions, and on the job skills assessment - Brenda by May 12

Develop first weeks induction program - Brenda by May 17

And so on for each goal that you have outlined.

Business Coaching Questions:

  • What do you want your business to be in 5 years?
  • What strategies do you need to start putting in place now to make this happen?
  • What incremental smart goals will you set for year 1, 2, 3 & 4?

Return from setting smart goals to writing a business plan

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