When you're a busy independent professional or entrepreneur tackling a thousand and one things at once, it can be tricky to remember to take a step back and reflect. But it's critical to think about what's going well, what can improve, and what you want to accomplish. Step away from your to-do list and take time to focus on the big-picture strategy that will move your business forward.
Instead of having a general idea of what you want to make happen—like achieving profitability or launching a new product—think of specific goals that you can work toward. Set yourself up for success by setting SMART goals. SMART is an acronym for a goal that is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based. Here's everything you need to know to set SMART goals for your business—and achievable 2019 resolutions!
Your first step is to home in on exactly what you want by clearly defining your goal. Don't say your goal is to work on your branding because that's too broad. When you get more specific, your goal might be to design a logo, build an on-brand website, or create business cards you're proud to hand out at networking events.
If your goal is to strengthen or start your social media marketing efforts, decide what you want to focus on. It could be launching your social media profiles, building an in-depth social media strategy, or running social media ad campaigns.
Now that you know what you're aiming for, it's time to decide exactly how you're going to evaluate whether you've succeeded. Let's say your non-SMART goal is to get new clients. Your revised goal could be to get five new clients by building a pitch deck template, distributing 100 flyers in your target city, or creating a buzz-worthy promotional video. When your goals are measurable, you can objectively tell whether or not you get a metaphorical gold star.
Everyone loves the feeling of turning a goal into a reality and getting that gold star. You don't want to set small goals that are effortless, but you also don't want to set goals that are so much of a stretch that you get discouraged. Set goals like Goldilocks – strike a balance until they're just right. You'll become even more motivated as you check off goal after goal.
If your goal is to be profitable by 2018, narrow it into a series of smaller quarterly goals. Keep up your bookkeeping throughout the year and increase your revenue by a designated percentage each quarter. If you want to increase SEO by starting a company blog, your smaller goal may be to design the landing page by the second quarter or write the first 10 articles by the third quarter.
Speaking of quarters, SMART goals have deadlines. Create a timeline for when you want to complete each goal. If you want to launch a website rebrand by the end of the year, create smaller steps like re-writing the copy and testing the website and the corresponding deadlines. A project manager can help you create a timeline, including due dates and deliverables for each member of your team.
Now that you know how to create SMART goals, make sure you stay accountable! Set aside at least one hour each week to plan out what you will work to meet or exceed your goals. Better yet, find freelancers who can work in tandem with you so you accomplish everything more effectively and efficiently. Gold stars for everyone!
How do you set goals and stick to them? Tell us your tips and tricks in the comments!