Way back in December 2007, I penned an article for SitePoint, 10 New Year Resolutions to Boost Your Business. You can read the article for all the details, as well as download a handy wall planner to stick near your desk. You’ll find that it’s still as relevant today as it was when I wrote it.
In any case, the ten resolutions I cover in that article, in short, were:
- Start setting goals
- Ask a client for a referral
- Focus on profit, rather than turnover
- Learn something new about business
- Take time for yourself
- Create products that generate income
- Delegate effectively
- Focus on client service
- Take time to wander the Web
- Build rock-solid procedures
You can read the article for the full details on each of these resolutions. The start of the calendar year is perfect for us to look at implementing the first one: SMART goal setting.
Setting SMART goals helps filter all of the thousands of thoughts and ideas you have into a list that’s far more manageable. High achievers in every field from sports to business consistently suggest that goal-setting is an invaluable part of the process. By setting SMART goals, this helps you define your objectives and understand what’s important to you, motivate you towards achievement, and build your self-confidence.
So what is a great goal?
Many people use the acronym SMART when creating goals, as well as for other project management methods. SMART stands for:
Ask yourself if the description of the goal is precise? A plausible goal is very specific and easy to understand. Goals such as “increase amount of clients” or “make more profit” are too vague.
Instead you should be using specific language, such as “add three new clients to portfolio before end of March” or “increase average profit on all jobs by 5% before middle of the year.”
Does the goal explain how you’ll measure results? A solid goal has a measurable outcome, so that you’re able to determine if you’ve achieved it, and it helps you stay on track. Hence why I used very specific terms, like 5% profit increase or three new clients.
Some statement like ‘Improve the blogging tools we use’ is way too vague a term, and definitely not measurable. This helps spur you on towards your goal, assuming the goal is attainable.
Is the goal possible to achieve, with some effort? If you set far-reaching goals, you may be unable to commit to realising them; for example, “increase turnover by 1000% within three months” is probably way beyond your current means. However, the goal should require some effort; for instance, “wake up each day before lunchtime” is easily achievable for most people, and so is unworthy goal-wise.
A proper goal should stretch you slightly so that you need to be committed, yet should also feel attainable. “Increase client base by at least two per month for next six months” is a goal you’d possibly need to work hard to reach, but is still feasible.
Ask yourself: do you have the power to control the results? You need to feel that you can reach your goals, and that you have an influence on them. Having a goal like “co-workers to be nicer to clients” is, fundamentally, out of your control, even if you are the boss. A better goal would be “run monthly workshops for employees that focus on client service.”
A concrete goal has a deadline. It may be as limited as the end of next week, or as long as the end of 2009. Deadlines help you manage your time towards achieving goals. Without a deadline, the goal will appear to be unimportant and never happen. Set a realistic deadline, with a suitable time frame.
It’s a good idea to limit yourself to just a handful of short-term and medium-term goals. Writing an exhaustive list of everything you would like to complete before you leave this earth is a sure way to de-motivate yourself.
Set some goals today, and look forward to a more productive year ahead!
The original post published here was part of Issue 428 of the SitePoint Tribune, a very popular email newsletter that I was co-editor of. Thanks to SitePoint for allowing me to reproduce the work here.