It's the start of a new year, which means New Year's resolutions are all the buzz. If you haven't made resolutions for your business, it's not too late to figure out 2015 business goals. We have the tips you need to set SMART Goals and a free template to help you plan your goals.
Here's an example of a SMART Goal:
My SMART Goal: Increase annual revenue by 15% by December 31, 2015
Let's break down the acronym "SMART" and how these principles apply to your business goals. A SMART goal is:
Step 1: S = Specific
Define exactly what you want to accomplish. We can assume that you want to grow your business, but what do you mean specifically: Do you want to increase total revenue? Do you want to sell more of a specific product? Do you want to increase your average order value? Do you want to grow a certain service you provide to your customers? Know exactly what you want to achieve.
In our example, "increase annual revenue" is Specific.
Step 2: M = Measurable
Now that you know specifically what you want to achieve, put a number to it. It's a very black-and-white way to measure your goal. At the end of the year, you either met (or exceeded!) that number, or you didn't. You can also use this as a gauge throughout the year to know if you're on track or if you need to make adjustments. For example, assuming your business doesn't have large seasonal fluctuations, you should be 50% of the way to your goal at the end of June.
It's not enough to say you want to increase total revenue; you need to say that you want to increase total revenue by a certain percentage or dollar amount. If you want to increase the number of customers using a particular service, determine how many customers you want this year. If you simply can't put a number to it, go back to Step 1 and choose a different "Specific" goal.
In our example, "by 15%" is a Measurable dollar amount we can track.
Step 3: A = Attainable
Work toward a goal you can actually achieve. Review past data relevant to the goal you’re trying to achieve – even going back several years if possible. Analyze these benchmarks, then make some realistic calculations. It's great to push yourself and your business, but make sure you're working toward a goal you can actually achieve.
In our example, we've reviewed the revenue from the past few years to determine that a 15% increase will require effort to achieve, but is Attainable.
Step 4: R = Relevant
Take a look at the big picture, and ask yourself: Does this matter? It’s easy to go down a "rabbit hole" of analysis and lose sight of what is important to the business, what feeds the important stats, and what's simply nice to know. For example, it feels good to see your number of Facebook fans steadily increase, but it's far more important to increase your sales.
Follow a top-down approach to identify a relevant goal for various levels of your business:
- First, understand your company's goals for next year. These are likely "big picture" goals like increasing sales.
- Translate those to your department's goals, which should support the company's goals. For example, a marketing department may set a goal to increase website visitors, in order to support the company's goal of increasing sales.
- Continue translating the goals as you go down the organization chart. What goals can you set as an individual professional that will support your department's goals and your company's goals? What goals can you set for your next marketing campaign that will support the goals of the department and the company?
In our example, we can confirm that annual revenue is vital to our business, making it very Relevant.
Step 5: T = Time-Bound
Give yourself a deadline. If there's no end date to your goal, you cannot measure if you met it. Many business goals will be based on calendar or fiscal years, but you could consider quarterly, monthly or campaign goals as well. Choose a timeframe that makes sense for the goal, but ensure you have established a deadline to achieve it.
In our example, we've set a deadline of December 31, 2015, making the goal Time-bound as well.
SMART Goals are the best way to communicate your business goals. They're designed to push you, but still be realistic. They're designed to let you know exactly how well you're doing as you progress. They're designed to let you know at the end of the time-frame: did you hit the goal?
Ready to get started? Download this free template to help you plan your 2015 SMART Marketing Goals.