What Are SMART Goals?

When you have goals, it’s a helpful way of staying on track, maintaining focus and building a career. Each time you define your objectives and create a path for meeting them, you’ll have a better chance of using your time wisely. Use these guidelines for achieving your SMART goals.

When you’re developing SMART goals, the “S” means you’re being as specific and clear as possible regarding your achievements. For example, instead of saying, “I want to hold a leadership role,” your goal would be, “I want to earn a leadership position as a manager of a design team for a startup web design company.” Because you’re narrowing your goal, it’s easier to develop steps toward achievement.

SMART: M Is for Measurable

How are you measuring the progress you’re making toward achieving your goals? For example, if your goal is to earn a leadership position managing a design team, you could be measuring the number of applications you’ve sent out, as well as interviews you’ve attended. By setting up milestones, you present yourself with opportunities for re-evaluating your progress and making any corrections if necessary.

SMART: A Is for Achievable

Are you setting goals that are achievable? If you’re setting goals that are possible to achieve within a reasonable time-frame, then you have a better chance of maintaining focus and motivation. Referring back to the example for earning a leadership position managing a design team, you should have a firm understanding of the experience, skills and credentials necessary to earn that position. Before attempting to work toward that goal, you must determine if it’s achievable now or if you must complete additional steps first.

SMART: R Is for Relevant

It’s essential that you’re setting goals that are relevant for yourself. All of the goals you’re setting should be aligning with your values, as well as your long-term goals. Consider rethinking your goals if they don’t contribute toward your broader objectives. Ask yourself how these goals will help you, how important they are to you and how they’ll aid in contributing toward your long-term life goals.

SMART: T Is for Time-Based

Have you set a time-frame for you goal? Creating an end-date could potentially help you prioritize and maintain motivation. For example, if you would like to achieve a senior leadership position on the design team, you could create a six-month end-date. Take into consideration why you may not have achieved that goal if the end-date arrives and it’s not met. Your goal may have been un-achievable, your end-date may have been unrealistic or you have run into unexpected roadblocks.

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Why Choosing a Free Publisher is a Smart Move for Small Businesses

In today’s digital age, small businesses are constantly searching for cost-effective ways to promote their products or services. One powerful tool that can help them achieve this goal is content marketing. By creating and distributing valuable and engaging content, small businesses can attract and retain customers. However, producing high-quality content requires the use of a reliable publisher. While there are many options available in the market, choosing a free publisher can be a smart move for small businesses. In this article, we will explore the benefits of using a free publisher and why it makes sense for small businesses.

Cost Savings without Compromising Quality

One of the primary advantages of a free publisher is the cost savings it offers to small businesses. Unlike paid publishing platforms that require monthly subscriptions or upfront fees, free publishers allow businesses to create and distribute content at no cost. This is particularly beneficial for startups and small companies with limited budgets.

Despite being free of charge, many free publishers offer an impressive range of features that rival their paid counterparts. These platforms often provide access to user-friendly interfaces, customizable templates, and advanced editing tools that enable businesses to create professional-looking content without needing extensive design or technical skills.

Easy Accessibility and User-Friendly Interface

Another significant benefit of choosing a free publisher is its easy accessibility and user-friendly interface. Most free publishing platforms are web-based applications that can be accessed from any device with an internet connection. This flexibility allows business owners or content creators to work on their projects from anywhere at any time.

Furthermore, free publishers typically have intuitive interfaces designed with simplicity in mind. They offer drag-and-drop functionality, pre-designed templates, and easy-to-use editing tools that streamline the content creation process. This means even individuals with limited technical knowledge can quickly get started with producing high-quality articles or blog posts.

Wide Distribution Channels

One common misconception about using free publishers is that they limit the distribution of content. However, many free publishers provide a wide range of distribution channels that help small businesses reach a larger audience. These platforms often integrate with social media networks, allowing businesses to automatically share their content across multiple platforms with just a few clicks.

Additionally, some free publishers offer built-in SEO optimization tools that can help businesses improve their search engine rankings. By optimizing content for relevant keywords and ensuring proper formatting and meta tags, small businesses can increase their online visibility and attract more organic traffic to their website.

Community Support and Collaboration

Lastly, free publishing platforms often foster a sense of community among users. They provide forums or discussion boards where content creators can seek advice, share ideas, and collaborate with like-minded individuals. This community support can be invaluable for small business owners who are looking to learn from others’ experiences and expand their knowledge in content marketing.

Furthermore, some free publishers offer features that allow multiple users to collaborate on the same project simultaneously. This is particularly useful for small teams or freelancers who need to work together on creating content. With real-time editing capabilities and version control systems, these platforms enable efficient collaboration between team members regardless of their physical location.

In conclusion, choosing a free publisher is a smart move for small businesses looking to enhance their content marketing efforts without breaking the bank. The cost savings, easy accessibility, wide distribution channels, and community support provided by free publishers make them an attractive option for startups and small companies aiming to create engaging content that resonates with their target audience. So why spend unnecessary resources when you can leverage the power of a free publisher? Start exploring the available options today and take your content marketing strategy to new heights.

This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.


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Setting SMART Goals for Your Small Business

With goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely, you can take the steps needed for long‑term success.

With goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely, you can take the steps needed for long-term success.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration , only about half of new small businesses survive for 5 years, and only one-third make it to 10 years. To stand the test of time, it’s important to set goals for your business that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely—in other words, goals that are SMART.

Small businesses tend to interact with their audience more directly, and on fewer fronts than corporations. Although you may have fewer resources, small businesses have many advantages if used wisely. Creating SMART goals to connect with your audience can make all the difference.

What are SMART goals?

The SMART acronym stands for goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely. The SMART goal system is impactful for business marketing strategies, project management and overall growth, because it encourages you to look into your market and evaluate how your business stacks up. It provides a model to identify strengths, track progress and room for improvement.

Here’s a more detailed SMART goals definition:

smart goal business plan

Having a clear, specific outcome in mind is key to making a SMART goal. Making a specific goal means that you can narrow your focus—whether this is on marketing, data collection, sales, or customer relationship management—and get a concise picture of exactly what you want to achieve and thus, what steps you should take to accomplish this goal.

When you set goals, it’s important to make sure you know what metrics you will use to evaluate whether and when you’ve met your goal.

Measurable goals and objectives can be quantitative, like how many returns or outputs you receive or produce; or they can be qualitative, based on the quality of those same returns or outputs.

It’s important to prioritize achievability when you set business goals. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t dream big, but a goal that you can take feasible steps towards will tell you more about the nature of your business, the way you run it, your customers, and the goal itself, rather than working towards something outside your capacity. By defining achievable goals, you’re also allowing yourself to experiment with what works best for reaching this goal, based on your measurements.

Relevancy, in the case of SMART business goals, refers to the pertinent characteristics of your business. Most businesses want to attract a bigger audience and increase their revenue, of course, but relevant goals help you identify what you will do specifically to grow your business.

If you run an online magazine, for example, a relevant and timebound goal is to increase the number of monthly subscribers by 25% this quarter. Subscribers are relevant to the success of your business, and thus the goal meets SMART criteria.

Having a timeframe for when you want to achieve your goal makes the process of planning and executing clearer and more organized. A deadline can be a powerful motivator, and it will help your team work together towards a clear finish line and better time management. Plus, working towards timely goals can give you insight into a certain time of year or the seasonality of your business, which might inform future goals.

Why are SMART Goals Important?

Why is being SMART important, and where does it factor into your small business plan ? SMART goals enable small business owners to take actionable steps towards improvement, measure outcomes, and ultimately achieve scalable success.

smart goal business plan

Vague goals (like, “Find more customers”), can leave you at a loss when it comes to implementing changes to your current marketing campaigns or business models. Vague goals can also leave business owners feeling over-extended without a clear focus, or unsatisfied without substantial evidence of achievement.

Actionable, achievable goals that are relevant, timebound, and have measurable outcomes are crucial for surviving the inception years of your new business. They can lead to sustainable growth and innovation throughout the life of your company or your career development.

How to set SMART goals

You can start writing your own SMART goals in a few ways:

smart goal business plan

  • Use the SMART acronym as an outline. Write down a goal, then break down how the goal is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely. Provide details about your goal for each letter in the acronym. You can use a list format, a flow chart, or an outline—whatever keeps your thoughts organized and helps in reaching this goal.
  • Use a past/present/future question model. Ask yourself questions like: What have I already done? What is the current outcome? Where do I want to be at the end of this month/quarter/year? Although this model prompts you to look to the future, make sure to keep the goal timely and focused.
  • Use marketing software data. Marketing software can provide a foundation to set SMART goals. By collecting your current campaign reports and analytics all in one place, you can start writing your SMART goals based on the quantitative data you’ve already collected. Remember, the data itself is only a starting point; its usefulness is determined by what you do with it.

Use this SMART goal framework that will help you to define a better action plan with the steps you'll need to take, resources necessary to get there and milestones to track progress along the way. With SMART goals, you're more likely to achieve your goal efficiently and effectively.

SMART goal examples

What is a SMART goal? Let’s imagine a small business with the impressive goal of becoming completely carbon neutral or reaching net zero emissions. The goal is laudable, but how will the company achieve it? One step toward that objective might feature the SMART goal of switching 50% of plastic packaging materials to compostable packaging materials by the end of the quarter.

The goal is actionable and brings the company closer to its overall goal of operating as a carbon-neutral entity. Compostable packaging alone won’t get the company to complete carbon-neutral status. Still, it will help get the company closer to that end goal, and it’s an excellent selling point on the company website and sales literature.

Below we’ve listed a few more examples where we take some common small business goals and make them SMART:

  • “Build more customers” vs. “Secure 6 new business accounts before the end of the quarter.” Six is specific, securing new accounts is relevant to the ultimate goal of the business, having a quantitative goal correlates to measurable success, it’s small enough to be achievable, and “end of the quarter” is timely.
  • “Make more profits” vs. “Increase revenue 10% each quarter until the end of the fiscal year.” 10% is a specific, measurable amount that’s relevant to the goal of increasing overall profits. It puts “increase revenue” into achievable terms, and using quarters of the fiscal year is a timely measurement.
  • “Be more present online” vs. “Increase unique blog views by increasing social media marketing content over the next month.” Unique views are a specific audience metric that is captured by your website or marketing platform, increasing social media marketing is measurable quantitatively, and it’s an achievable, actionable item, while “over the next month” is timely.

SMART business goals are about building focus, deepening relationships with your audience, achieving your goals and improving your strategies as you grow. By using the SMART framework, you can improve your business operations, project management and start achieving the goals that matter most.

You can also write SMART goals for personal use, whether you want to improve your career development or achieve goals outside of your professional life. Using the SMART goal framework can organize the process and provide structure before you begin any projects for your small business.

Start setting SMART goals with Mailchimp

Mailchimp helps your company manage customer relationships , generate leads , and grow your small business with an all-in-one marketing platform for email campaigns, content management, and data analysis. Create and achieve your SMART goals by leveraging marketing tools from Mailchimp.

Frequently asked questions

When should i set smart goals.

SMART goals are best set when the company aims to achieve a particular objective or milestone. By taking advantage of SMART goal setting from the get-go, your company can increase productivity, increase profits, and improve client or employee retention.

What is the value of creating SMART goals?

SMART goals take the vagueness out of company operations and help the organization reach its yearly goals with precision. SMART goals can improve resource allocation, time management, and employee morale.

SMART goals help business owners figure out where their teams are succeeding or when they need additional guidance. Grow your small business using achievable SMART goals that will add up to greater success over time.

What are good SMART goals?

In order to set good SMART goals, you must determine what you hope to achieve in the long run, either as an organization or professional.

Learning how to write SMART goals requires creating goals that meet every letter of the acronym. Below are some SMART goal examples that you can use as inspiration:

  • Grow the company Instagram page by gaining 100 followers over the next 6 months.
  • Find a qualified graphic design intern by the end of the quarter by creating job listings on at least three unique career sites.
  • Strengthen the sales team by ensuring that at least 80% of salespeople in your organization complete an inbound sales training by the end of the quarter.

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Human Resources | Tip List

10 SMART Goals Examples for Small Businesses in 2023 (+ Free Template)

Published January 23, 2023

Published Jan 23, 2023

Rebecca Michael

WRITTEN BY: Rebecca Michael

Utilizing the SMART goals methodology will help your company achieve its strategic objectives. SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goals. This strategy will focus your team members on the most important objectives for your business, which will help you in achieving them efficiently.

We outlined some SMART goals examples you can use to help you create your own and stay focused on what you’re trying to achieve. Practical application is the best way to truly understand how SMART goals are utilized in small business today. These examples show you how you might apply the process for your own business.

1. Create a Marketing Plan for a New Business Within 1 Month

When starting a new business, there are plans within plans to make. Creating the marketing plan for the new company is an important SMART goal.

  • Specific: We need to create a marketing plan that has a specific outline we can follow to ensure we covered the most important information.
  • Measurable: Each week of the month, we will finalize 25% of the plan’s details to ensure completion within one month.
  • Achievable: One month should be plenty of time to do all the market research and company analysis required to create a good marketing plan.
  • Relevant: Without a solid plan for marketing, the company is missing a crucial component to success.
  • Time-bound: The time limit is one month.

Check out our guides to writing a marketing plan and creating an effective blog content strategy for additional information on SMART marketing goals.

2. Pay Off $10,000 in Business Debt Within 30 Months

Setting financial goals is an important step toward gaining control of your business finances. One SMART goal example may be to pay down the company’s debt, thus making more money available for employee pay increases and other projects.

  • Specific: Pay off $10,000.
  • Measurable: We can measure progress by monitoring our cash accounts as we go, and track how we are doing month to month.
  • Achievable: We will achieve this by spending less on growth-goal related items and will work to encourage vendors to pay on time and in full.
  • Relevant: We will highlight development and project opportunities throughout the year that can benefit from increased investment once the debt is paid down.
  • Time-bound: Within 30 months, we will achieve our objective.

Did You Know?

SMART goals actually do work. According to a study by Dominican University , 76% of people that recorded their goals, created actionable steps to do and reported on them weekly to another person achieved their goals. This is 33% better than those who didn’t write down their goals.

3. Set Up a Remote Sales Networking System Within 7 Days

This scenario became painfully real to many companies in the early months of 2020. Setting SMART goals for transitioning to remote operations at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic was an important part of maintaining an effective sales culture during a very stressful time. This SMART goal example is rooted in a real-world experience that many people faced.

  • Specific: Every member of our remote sales team should be connected and operational.
  • Measurable: The task is complete when the networking system is operating and our remote workers are able to work.
  • Achievable: Although this goal might be ambitious, we can move this to the top of our priority list and temporarily pull in resources from longer-term projects to complete this necessary goal.
  • Relevant: Remote work is a good setup even when there’s not a pandemic making it necessary. In 2020, remote networking allowed companies to continue operating. In a post-COVID world, remote networking helps employees be productive and companies achieve results.
  • Time-bound: The time limitation for this goal is seven days.

4. Increase New Customer Reviews by 30% Year Over Year

Most companies’ growth these days has to do with the brand awareness your business has in the market. One of your most important goals in brand cultivation is your brand awareness growth throughout the year.

One SMART goal example for this: The number of new customer reviews we get must increase 30% on a year-over-year (YoY) basis.

  • Specific: Increase customer reviews by 30%.
  • Measurable: We measure our progress through monthly reporting, and it shows if we reach our target or not.
  • Achievable: We increased our customer reviews last year by 20%. We believe the 30% target is achievable.
  • Relevant: Based on our research to date, an increase in the number of customer reviews corresponds with increased sales in our top growth channels.
  • Time-bound: This is a YoY comparison.

5. Ensure All Our Overseas Factory Workers Are Paid a Living Wage Within 3 Months

As consumers become more conscious of where their goods come from, the demand for ethically sourced products increases. If you source your products ethically, you can gain customer loyalty and charge a premium while doing it.

The word “ethical” is vague and can mean many things. Different companies have different standards of ethics that they are able and willing to implement. For example, you might insist that the overseas workers who make your product be paid 25% higher than the average wage for that industry, or that your production lines provide well-paying jobs and valuable job training to women escaping domestic violence. You might also make your manufacturing carbon-neutral by planting trees to offset the carbon emissions produced in creating your products. In this SMART goals example, the specific goal is to vet the working conditions of our overseas factories and ensure that all workers are paid a living wage.

  • Specific: We are focused on all our overseas factory workers earning a living wage.
  • Measurable: We will request cost of living data from our overseas partners and then evaluate their compliance with our living wage goal or select new partners on a region-by-region basis.
  • Achievable: Since we already work with overseas factories, vetting suppliers and choosing new partners based on our updated requirements is an achievable goal.
  • Relevant: Many customers base their spending habits on their ethical values. Sourcing our products ethically will help us win loyal customers.
  • Time-bound: The goal is to accomplish this within three months.

6. Grow Worldwide Market Share of Our Top-selling Software at Least 10% by the End of the Year

Growing market share is the goal of most organizations, large or small.

  • Specific: We know the geographic area, the product line, and the level of growth (10%) we’re looking for.
  • Measurable: We will be able to measure our goal by tracking new customers, growth in new markets, and overall growth in current markets.
  • Achievable: We grew, overall, by 8% last year and we feel this increased goal is doable.
  • Relevant: Growth in market share often results in higher revenue and more customers, among other benefits.
  • Time-bound: We will reach our goal by the end of the year.

It’s very important to create and use SMART objectives because they provide a frame of reference for all involved. That way, at the end of the period being measured your team can reassess whether or not it was truly “achievable.”

7. Transition IT Support From Contract to In-house in 6 Months

All companies that use computers have to have IT support. Many companies hire IT support companies to take care of their computer needs. As a company grows, it might become more financially beneficial to create an IT department and handle those needs in-house rather than contracting out to a service, as in this SMART goal example.

  • Specific: This goal requires adding a new department to the organization structure and staffing it.
  • Measurable: This goal is measurable by the existence or non-existence of an IT department. The number of people who will need to be hired is another measurement that will be determined in a sub-goal of this overarching goal because SMART goals can and usually do have additional goals required to make the plan happen.
  • Achievable: This is a reasonable timeline for this goal, and we have the resources and expertise to create this department and hire qualified people.
  • Relevant: An in-house IT department will save us time and money and make our employees more productive by decreasing technology-related downtime.
  • Time-bound: The timeline for this goal is six months.

8. Plan 5 Customer Education Webinars by the Fourth Quarter

A good idea here may be to plan and execute five customer education webinars by the fourth quarter with 15-plus attendees per event and at least 80% highly satisfied or very satisfied responses regarding content.

  • Specific: The goal is to plan five webinars.
  • Measurable: We will assess the number of attendees in each webinar and distribute and analyze attendee survey results.
  • Achievable: The personnel and system resources are available and the need is active.
  • Relevant: These webinars will help generate additional customers and/or our brand will establish expertise in the market.
  • Time-bound: We will have this completed by the fourth quarter of the current year.

9. Increase Sales Cold Calls by 10% This Year

In many businesses, cold calls are key to sales. Whether you’re doing business-to-business or direct-to-customer sales, if your business model requires you to reach out, then increasing your cold calls can be the key to setting higher sales goals , as demonstrated in this SMART goals example.

  • Specific: We want to make 10% more cold calls this year than last year.
  • Measurable: It is easy to compare the number of calls made last year to the number of calls made this year.
  • Achievable: We can add incentives to push our team to make more calls. If we need to hire more people or move some part-time employees to full-time, we can do that.
  • Relevant: If the conversion rate for our calls remains constant, this will increase our overall sales.
  • Time-bound: We have until the end of this year to complete this goal.

10. Increase Website Traffic 25% by December 2023

If your website is successful, you already are aware of your overall conversion rates, both in terms of click-throughs from search engines and social media and in terms of sales generated per click-through. Increasing your website traffic will increase your sales, as long as your sales conversion rate remains relatively constant, in this SMART business goals example.

  • Specific: To increase the number of visitors that come to our site by 25%.
  • Measurable: Increase our annual visitors from 100,000 to 125,000.
  • Achievable: Our inbound marketing team has solid social media and content creation strategies in place. We can hire additional experts as needed to increase our visibility and our website traffic.
  • Relevant:  The more traffic we have, the more money we make and the larger our reach.
  • Time-bound: We want to complete this goal by December 2023.

According to the Center for Management & Organization Effectiveness, studies show that goal-setting teams enjoy 20%-25% improved performance . In addition, employees with goals are happier at work, less stressed, and more productive.

How SMART Goals Work

Here’s how each letter in a SMART goal acronym helps you focus your efforts to achieve desired results:

S = Specific

The “S” in a SMART goal stands for “Specificity.”

We all know that it helps us to remember to write down what we want to do, using action words. For example, instead of saying, “I want more clients,” you might say, “I’m going to sign up four new clients within this next quarter.” Being specific and using action verbs focuses you on what exactly you, or your team, needs to do. The key questions that you are asking you or your team are the following:

  • What’s the objective?
  • What needs to be accomplished?
  • Who (what team) is responsible for completing or driving this task or project?
  • What steps will you or your team take to achieve it?

In the following SMART goals examples, notice how the goals provide information about what exactly you need to do, even though you still need to outline further tasks and sub-goals to flesh out your plan.

M = Measurable

The “M” in a SMART goal helps you clarify and quantify your efforts so you can “Measure” them.

In the SMART goals example of signing up new clients, we can add the additional note that your goal is to increase, by four, the number of new clients. Although establishing a target may seem obvious, many fail to add this important component to their goal framework. In short, your measurements determine whether or not you achieve your goal.

A = Achievable

The “A” in SMART goals represents the goal’s “Achievability” factor.

This step reminds us to check to make sure the goal is within reach; is it practical? Experienced leaders will tell you that people are motivated by goals that stretch them, as long as they’re not unrealistic. Let’s assume, for example, four new clients is an achievable goal, but the timeline suggested is not. Ensure that you are both ambitious as well as practical.

R = Relevant

The “R” in SMART goals addresses the “Relevance” of the goal.

If your overall business plan calls for increasing profitability, instead of sales, perhaps new customers aren’t your primary goal. Instead of focusing on new customers you may need to focus on retention of existing customers and their profitability per sale transaction, price increases, or reducing production costs. Make sure the goal you set makes sense for you. In the following SMART goals examples, notice how Relevant often means “how will this benefit me?”

T = Time-bound

The “T” in SMART goals references the “Time” aspect of your goal.

Setting a time frame around your goals is essential; it not only identifies the end or conclusion of your goal’s duration, but motivates the identified endeavor. Working to achieve four new customers is fine, but if you don’t set a time frame it could diminish the objective overall as it could take much longer to achieve four customers than desired.

(ADD: Infographic template for SMART goals. Fill in the blank format, with the following entry fields: “S: What SPECIFICALLY do I want to do?” “M: How is this MEASURED?” “A: Is this ACHIEVABLE?” “R: How is this RELEVANT to my business?” “T: How much TIME do I have?”)

Do's and Don'ts in Setting SMART Goals

Now that you have seen some SMART goals examples, we want to share with you the “do’s and don’ts” of setting SMART goals. This shortlist has examples of what others have done in the past that have impeded their ability to set successful SMART goals and execute on them thoroughly.

As you can see, following a few simple rules and ensuring that your team follows suit will aid you in setting SMART goals that make sense to everyone on the team.

Additional Tips for Setting SMART Goals

There are strategies for getting your team on board with your SMART goals, which will make you more likely to be successful at implementing your goals. Keep these tips in mind while you’re considering your SMART business goals examples.

  • Get your team involved . People are more passionate about goals they help create. Have your team brainstorm ideas, and involve them in the process of narrowing and selecting the goals they want to work on.
  • Make a plan of action . There should be specific goals for each step of the way. This is like making mini-SMART goals to help you reach your overall SMART goal.
  • Write it down . Every team member needs a copy of the plan, with the big goal and the smaller goals. This helps everyone stay on track.
  • Evaluate, evaluate, evaluate . After every project, have everyone evaluate their own performance and the team’s performance as a whole. What was the goal? Did you achieve it? What went well? What went wrong? What could you have done better? What did you learn? What specific actions can you take to improve your performance in the future?
  • Reassess the goals as needed . As you work on a project, you might find that you need to change your plan, or even adjust your broader SMART goal. Take time to make sure the plan you have is still in alignment with your overall goals and vision.
  • Use a performance management system . It can be hard to keep up with all the elements of goal setting and follow-up, especially in a large organization. A performance management system can help you keep track of everything.

Bottom Line

Not having a goal is like hiking without a map or building a boat without a plan. Making your goals SMART ensures that you not only know what you want to achieve, but how you will get there (as well as a way to measure your progress along the way). We encourage you to read more about using SMART goals as part of your performance management process as well.

About the Author

Rebecca Michael

Find Rebecca On LinkedIn

Rebecca Michael

Rebecca Michael has more than 15 years of experience in publishing and digital media. She previously served as a Head of Content and Editor-in-Chief for a large digital marketing company specializing in content strategies for small businesses. Rebecca has over 20 years of writing experience in online TV, blogs, and news sites. She is the Director of Content for Fit Small Business and The Close , where she’s developed topic teams of excellence that deliver high-quality content to our readers.

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5 Tips for Setting SMART Goals in Your Business Plan

Table of contents.

smart goal business plan

Goals and dreams have important differences. Dreams are wishes and fantasies; for example, many of us long to be rich, famous, more successful, happier and healthier. Goals put your dreams on a deadline and require actionable steps toward achievement. 

As with personal goals, you have a greater chance of achieving business goals when you work within a structure that sets you up for success. We’ll explore the SMART goals system and how you can apply this goal-achievement method to your business. 

What are SMART goals?

SMART is an acronym for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based. The SMART goals framework is a way to stay on target and achieve your goals more systematically. The process includes the following components:

  • Making your goal specific
  • Quantifying your goal 
  • Ensuring your goal is attainable, reasonable and realistic
  • Hitching your goal to a deadline

Why use SMART goals?

SMART goals allow you to chart a course and stay organized when reaching personal or professional goals. You’re more likely to succeed because you’re less likely to get overwhelmed and abandon your goal entirely. 

In a business setting particularly, SMART goals provide teams with clarity, structure and guidelines. Business goals can involve cost-cutting measures , marketing initiatives, sales increases and much more. 

With SMART goals, you and your team know what success in each endeavor means and how to measure it within a project’s framework. Everyone knows the steps they must take to reach the goals. With ambiguity gone and a direction mapped, SMART goals set up your team for success.  

Goal-setting and tracking tools and apps can help your team get on the same page and accomplish company objectives.

How to incorporate SMART goals into your business plan

We’ll take a closer look at each SMART goal element and offer implementation examples you can apply to your business. 

1. Make goals specific.

A specific goal clearly states what is to be achieved, by whom , where and when it is to be achieved (and sometimes why ).

For example, let’s say you’re a wedding planner. Here’s how a non-SMART goal compares with a SMART goal in specificity: 

  • Example of a non-SMART goal: Market my business in Toronto.
  • Example of a SMART goal: Start a monthly networking group for women on event planning in Toronto. Set a monthly attendance goal of 20 women, with two attendees per month signing up for my “How to plan your wedding without stress” workshop.

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2. Make goals measurable.

Measuring your goal means evaluating the end results and the milestones you’ll need to hit on the way. When you measure, you assess if you’re on the right track toward achieving your goal by asking these questions:

For example, let’s say your goal is to reach sales of $96,000 per year. To measure your goal, you could take the following actions:

  • You set a milestone target of $8,000 in sales each month. 
  • You create a process that focuses on achieving $8,000 per month (adding up to $96,000 for the year). 
  • You reason that it’s easier to attain an $8,000-per-month goal because there are many ways to get to this goal and it’s less stressful to think in smaller amounts.

Measuring draws your focus, helping you boost your odds of achieving your goal. One good way to measure is to have a dashboard arranged by month. For example, you could use a chart like this:

3. Make goals attainable.

When you set goals, ensure they’re achievable. If you believe you can reach the goal, it’s more likely you’ll get there. It’s a mistake to set unreachable goals, because you’re setting yourself up for failure from the beginning. Additionally, don’t let others set your goals.

Setting attainable goals is also essential for team goal setting and can boost employee engagement . If you set unrealistic goals for your team, your team members won’t fully engage in the project. They need to be fully on board for the project to succeed. Everyone on the team should share in the goal setting so they own the goal and know it’s attainable. 

Consider setting performance goals tied to an incentive so that your team operates with a sense of urgency on a crucial project.

4. Make goals relevant.

Goals tend to fall into two categories: short-term and long-term. It’s essential to understand how both goal types fit your organizational or personal vision, mission and purpose.

It’s tempting to set a goal because it’s easy or sounds great, only to find out later that it has no long-term importance in what you want to achieve as an individual or an organization.

5. Make goals time-based.

Setting a deadline attaches a time frame to your goals. A deadline can be an excellent motivator. For example, let’s say you want to run a marathon in a year. A time-based goal would look something like this:

  • Run twice a week for three months, gradually increasing your distance.
  • Run three times a week for three months, gradually increasing your distance.
  • Be ready for a half-marathon by the six-month mark. 
  • Increase your frequency and distance over the next six months. 
  • Be ready for the marathon in 12 months. 

Time-based goals help you avoid procrastination because your process offers incentives as you meet smaller achievements along the way. 

If you’re interested in tracking employee performance, check out employee performance measuring tools such as Basecamp, DeskTime and Trello.

How to identify and reach your goals

It’s crucial to set a goal that matches your personal or professional vision. After you set the goal, focus on a process that makes your goal achievable. Here are some steps to follow:

1. Identify your goal.

If you are unable to set a SMART goal, it’s usually because you need to clarify exactly what you want to accomplish within a set time period. It’s inadvisable to skip the process of SMART goal setting and just “go for it.” You have a greater chance of success when you analyze your goals and match them to your vision.

To save time, prevent disappointment and avoid costly mistakes, perform the following exercise when implementing SMART goals.

What are your goals? Writing down your goals helps to clarify your thinking. Can you stretch yourself both personally and in your business by setting three goals in each area?

2. Focus on the system.

Once you’ve set a goal, find a way to develop a system to achieve that goal. For example, if you want to write a book in one year and you’re not an author, you may feel overwhelmed. 

Instead, try writing 250 words per day. Don’t agonize over what you are writing – just write. At that rate, if you write five days per week (260 days per year), you will have 65,000 words in a year, or approximately a 250-page paperback.

Business goals work the same way. Set the goal, and then find a system to help you reach that goal. For example, when setting a sales goal, you may want to focus on consistently achieving 10 quotes per month with a 50% success rate. 

Leah Zitter contributed to the writing and research in this article. 


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smart goal examples

5 SMART Goal Example For Business Development

A smart goal is basically what the acronyms from the name suggest. It is specific, measurable, attainable, and relevant and time bound. The Smart Goal process provides a frame where you can create a long term goal. It also provides a time limit for you to work on the same goal. By doing this business’ are 70% more successful in achieving their goals thanks to regular check-ins, updates and group accountability. Below are a few smart goal examples for business development that will help you understand the system better and enhance your business.

Smart Goal Examples for Business

  • “I Want To Increase My Profits”
  • “I Want To Improve My Response Time to Customer Complaints”
  • “I Want To Improve My Employee Retention”
  • “I Want To Be More Efficient In My Business Operations”
  • “I Want To Grow My Business Operation”

“I Want To Increase My Profits”

smart goal examples

Measurable: I will increase sales over the next 3 months by signing in 5 more potential clients.

Attainable: I will improve my current customer relationships and promote the business through referrals, networking and through social networks. This will help me find more leads and therefore see to an increase in revenue for the business.

Relevant: moving to a cheaper establishment will reduce the operational cost of my business and therefore give room to the growth of profits.

Time-bound: I will have increased my profit by the end of the coming three months.

“I Want To Improve My Response Time to Customer Complaints”

smart goal examples

Measurable: the increase in customer service staff is scheduled to take place within one year. It should bring the number to a total of 8.

Attainable: as I plan on moving to a new establishment I will ensure the place has enough room to accommodate the additional staff members I intend to have in the next one year.

Relevant: I will find ways to manage the complaints meanwhile in order to maintain the customer base I have and strive to grow the client base even further to match the additional customer service staff.

Time-bound: I will have hired the customer service staff by the end of one year

“I Want To Improve My Employee Retention”

smart goal examples

Measurable: the improvement in employee turnover is scheduled to be by about 15% and should take place within 90 days.

Attainable: trainings and one-on-one meetings will ensure the employees are prepared for what is expected of them when they get into production. It also give me a hint of what’s on their mind concerning general operations of the business.

Relevant: outstanding employees will be put up for a reward system. For the ones that might be having a difficult time, there will be motivation trainings for encouragement.

Time-bound: employee turnover will have improved within 90 days

“I Want To Be More Efficient In My Business Operations”

smart goal examples

Measurable: the sales people are supposed to increase their closing ratio from 45% to 60% and the delivery time improved to 12 hours from the initial 72hours

Attainable: I will conduct a survey to find out what both the clients and the sales team think about the idea. I will implement it as soon as the idea passes as valid.

Relevant: increasing the number of motorbikes and pickups that will do courier services for us will help make the plan a success

Time-bound: this should happen in one year.

“I Want To Grow My Business Operation”

smart goal business plan

Measurable: the objective is to increase operations and revenue for the business. This will, in turn, facilitate the growth to three more branches.

Attainable: increasing my current selling space by 25% will mean more production. This can help me save for the planned growth to 4 branches countrywide.

Relevant: increasing production, operations and revenue will mean a larger client base thus the need for more branches will not be a wasteful idea after all.

Time-bound: establishing the branches should be within the next five years.

How Smart Goals Should Align With Your Business Goals

As much as an organization will work to ensure that its business goals are smart, they will never be flawless. It is, however, essential to ensure they give their teams tasks within their capability and make decisions using accurate data from their past operations while setting new smart business goals. The rest will work out just fine.

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Dan Gartlan helps companies of all kinds drive their business initiatives and achieve their goals with strategic marketing programs that deliver results. As President of Stevens & Tate Marketing, he has over 20 years experience across various industries, and continues to share his expertise to build brands nationwide.


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5 Elements of a SMART Business Goal

Darrell Zahorsky is an expert in search engine optimization (SEO) and marketing. He has worked for companies and clients such as Blackberry, ADP, and Subway.

Image by Katie Kerpel © The Balance 2019

Every successful business has clearly set and articulated goals to attain specific objectives. Yet, in the world of small business, many businesses lack a focused goal. “Get more business” is a typical reply of small business owners when asked of future plans. Any self-respecting CEO would be tossed out of a shareholder meeting for uttering a vague response.

Whether you have a 50-employee company or an empire of one, your business success depends on your ability to set and achieve goals. Put your business on the fast-track by applying the principles of SMART goal setting .

SMART is an acronym for the 5 elements of specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based goals. It’s a simple tool used by businesses to go beyond the realm of fuzzy goal-setting into an actionable plan for results.

Great goals are well-defined and focused. “Obtain two new billion dollar corporate clients in the Boston property insurance market” is more meaningful to mobilize your team than “Get more business.” Ryan Blair, The Goals Guy eloquently states, "Focus creates a powerful force: goal power . The moment you focus on a goal, your goal becomes a magnet, pulling you and your resources toward it. The more focused your energies, the more power you generate."  

A goal without a measurable outcome is like a sports competition without a scoreboard or scorekeeper. Numbers are an essential part of business. Put concrete numbers in your goals to know if you’re on track. A goal white board posted in your office can help as a daily reminder to keep yourself and your employee focused on the targeted results you want to attain.

Far too often, small businesses can set goals beyond reach. No one has ever built a billion dollar business overnight. Venture capitalists and angel investors discard countless business plans of companies with outlandish goals. Dream big and aim for the stars but keep one foot firmly based in reality. Check with your industry association to get a handle on realistic growth in your industry to set SMART goals.

Achievable business goals are based on the current conditions and realities of the business climate. You may desire to have your best year in business or increase revenue by 50%, but if a recession is looming and three new competitors opened in your market, then your goals aren’t relevant to the realities of the market.

Business goals and objectives just don’t get done when there's no time frame tied to the goal-setting process. Whether your business goal is to increase revenue by 20% or find 5 new clients, choose a time-frame to accomplish your goal.

Once your business goals are SMART , break down each goal into a specific set of tasks and activities to accomplish your goals. It’s important to periodically review your goals and make adjustments if necessary. Goal setting for your small business is an essential tool for success. Remember in the end to be SMART.

University of California. " SMART Goals: A How to Guide, " Page 3. Accessed April 28, 2020.

Gary Ryan Power. " Goals: The 10 Rules for Achieving Success, " Page 85. Sourcebooks, Inc., 2013.

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50 SMART Objective examples for businesses

The following list of SMART objective examples are designed to support business advisors, consultants and accountants to build strategic business plans for their clients.

Our SMART objectives follow the SMART model. Therefore, the examples are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound targets.

As you know your client’s goals better than us, we recommend reviewing our Setting SMART Objectives blog to decide which objectives best meet their business needs.

When writing objectives, it’s important to focus on a range of topics, not just financial-based results. Therefore, we have listed a range of SMART objective examples for:

Financial/Performance Objectives Customer Growth Objectives Customer Satisfaction Objectives Productivity Objectives Capacity and Occupancy Objectives Marketing & Communication Objectives Sales Objectives Well-being and Social Responsibility Objectives Employee/HR Objectives

Where to use SMART Objectives

SMART Objectives are not just for strategic business plans. They can be used for marketing campaigns, operational improvement plans, customer engagement, corporate social responsibilities and employee well-being initiatives.

How our SMART objective examples work?

All examples are written for you to input your figures. We have suggested the metric with the following system:

  • $$$ – Input financial Target
  • %% – Input percentage
  • ## – Input number
  • MM/YYYY – Month/year target (01/2022)

Note: all the below SMART objective examples assume a start date for measurement has been established. Need a quick way to establish a start point? See our Business Benchmark Report .

50 SMART Objective examples

Financial/performance objectives.

1. Increase company revenue by %% before MM/YYYY. 2. Reach a company revenue of $$$ by MM/YYYY. 3. Increase company net profits by %% before MM/YYYY. 4. Increase average annual gross profit margins to %% by MM/YYYY. 5. Increase average annual net profit margins to %% by MM/YYYY. 6. Increase business value by %% before MM/YYYY. 7. Reduce potential profit gap by %% before YYYY. 8. Increase owners profit by %% in YYYY. 9. Increase returns to shareholders by %% in YYYY. 10. Improve profits (gross and/or net) per employee by %% in YYYY. 11. Improve stock turn rates by %% in YYYY.

Customer Growth Objectives

12. Increase the number of customers by %% before MM/YYYY. 13. Increase the average financial value of each customer by %% before MM/YYYY. 14. Reduce annual customer/client/subscriber churn rate by %% before MM/YYYY. 15. Increase market share by %% by MM/YYYY. 16. Increase customer retention by %% across YYYY.

Customer Satisfaction Objectives

17. Achieve an average customer review rating of ## during YYYY. 18. Increase average customer review rating by %% from the previous year. 19. Achieve ## customer reviews and feedback by MM/YYYY. 20. Increase the number of customer referrals by %% across YYYY.

Productivity Objectives

21. Improve operational productivity by %% before MM/YYYY. 22. Improve output per employee by %% during YYYY. 23. Reduce annual average job/project delivery timeframes by %% during YYYY. 24. Improve asset turnover rate by %% across YYYY.

Capacity and Occupancy Objectives

25. Improve occupancy rates by %% across YYYY. 26. Increase capacity used rate by %% across YYYY. 27. Improve premises utilisation/ROI by %% in YYYY.

Marketing & Communication Objectives

28. Increase the number of genuine leads from Target Market Segments by %% in YYYY. 29. Increase the opt-in prospects database by ## potential clients by MM/YYYY. 30. Improve click-through rates of prospect marketing by %% before MM/YYYY. 31. Increase ROI for online marketing campaigns to $$:$$ by MM/YYYY. 32. Increase new website visitors by %% over YYYY. 33. Improve SEO ranking of the company website to ## by MM/YYYY. 34. Generate $$$ in sales from new/specific product range by MM/YYYY. 35. Increase social media followers to ## by MM/YYYY. 36. Increase positive online engagement by %% across YYYY.

Sales Objectives

37. Increase prospects conversion rates by %% prior to MM/YYYY. 38. Reduce sale conversion time-frame by %% before MM/YYYY. 39. Reduce acquisition cost per new sale by %% before MM/YYYY. 40. Increase cross-sell rate by %% during YYYY. 41. Increase up-sell % to %% during YYYY.

Well-being and Social Responsibility Objectives

42. Reduce owner hours by %% whilst maintaining the same net profit by MM/YYYY. 43. Reduce employee hours by %% whilst maintaining the same net profit by MM/YYYY. 44. Achieve a score of XX in employee workplace wellbeing survey during YYYY. 45. Improve employee mental health scores by %% in YYYY. 46. Increase employee volunteer hours by %% in YYYY. 47. Reduce carbon footprint by %% in YYYY.

Employee/HR Objectives

48. Reduce time frames for finding new employees for the business by ## in YYYY. 49. Improve employee retention rates by %% in YYYY. 50. Increase employee workplace satisfaction by %% in YYYY.

For more information about setting objectives, read our guide on Setting SMART Objectives .

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smart goal business plan

Work Life is Atlassian’s flagship publication dedicated to unleashing the potential of every team through real-life advice, inspiring stories, and thoughtful perspectives from leaders around the world.

Kelli María Korducki

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SMART goals

How to write SMART goals

It’s easier to succeed when you have clearly defined objectives that are based in reality.

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5-second summary

  • Teams often fall short of meeting their goals due to a lack of consensus on the definition of success.
  • SMART goals use a specific set of criteria to help ensure that objectives are clearly defined and attainable within a certain timeframe.
  • Working through each step of creating a SMART goal can reveal instances where priorities and resources are out of alignment.

Meet Jane. She’s a product manager at a mid-sized tech company – let’s call it Techfirm, Inc. Jane has been tasked with increasing usage of Techfirm’s mobile app.

She knows she’ll need all hands on deck to make this happen, but there’s a problem. When Jane has set team-wide goals in the past, they’ve quickly fallen off track. Nobody seemed to have a clear understanding of what success should look like. Progress wasn’t monitored closely enough. And inevitably, that important objective slipped to the back burner (before toppling off the stove entirely).

That’s why, this time around, Jane plans to leverage SMART goals for setting an action plan and staying the course.

Want to get started right now?

Use our template to define the different components of your SMART goal.

5 diagrams that show how context switching saps your productivity

5 diagrams that show how context switching saps your productivity

What are smart goals.

The SMART in SMART goals stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.

Defining these parameters as they pertain to your goal helps ensure that your objectives are attainable within a certain time frame. This approach eliminates generalities and guesswork, sets a clear timeline, and makes it easier to track progress and identify missed milestones.

An example of a SMART-goal statement might look like this: Our goal is to [quantifiable objective] by [timeframe or deadline]. [Key players or teams] will accomplish this goal by [what steps you’ll take to achieve the goal]. Accomplishing this goal will [result or benefit].

Let’s use Jane’s objective to work through each component.

S: Specific

In order for a goal to be effective, it needs to be specific. A specific goal answers questions like:

  • What needs to be accomplished?
  • Who’s responsible for it?
  • What steps need to be taken to achieve it?

Thinking through these questions helps get to the heart of what you’re aiming for. Here’s an example of a specific goal Jane might come up with:

Grow the number of monthly users of Techfirm’s mobile app by optimizing our app-store listing and creating targeted social media campaigns.

M: Measurable

Don’t underestimate the outsized impact of short-term goals

Don’t underestimate the outsized impact of short-term goals

Specificity is a solid start, but quantifying your goals (that is, making sure they’re measurable) makes it easier to track progress and know when you’ve reached the finish line.

Jane and her product team want to grow the number of their mobile app users – but by how much? If they get even one new signup, that’s technically positive growth – so does that mean they’re done? Same goes for their strategy; how many platforms will they advertise on? 

To make this SMART objective more impactful, Jane should incorporate measurable, trackable benchmarks.

Increase the number of monthly users of Techfirm’s mobile app by 1,000 by optimizing our app-store listing and creating targeted social media campaigns for four social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

A: Achievable

This is the point in the process when you give yourself a serious reality check. Goals should be realistic —  not  pedestals from which you inevitably tumble. Ask yourself: is your objective something your team can reasonably accomplish?

Jane might look at her goal and realize that, given her small team and their heavy workload, creating ad campaigns for four social platforms might be biting off more than they can chew. She decides to scale back to the three social networks where she’s most likely to find new clients.

Increase the number of monthly users of Techfirm’s mobile app by 1,000 by optimizing our app-store listing and creating targeted social media campaigns for three social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Safeguarding the achievability of your goal is much easier when you’re the one setting it. However, that’s not always the case. When goals are handed down from elsewhere, make sure to communicate any restraints you may be working under. Even if you can’t shift the end goal, at least you can make your position (and any potential roadblocks) known up-front.

How to write the perfect 90-day plan

How to write the perfect 90-day plan

R: relevant.

Here’s where you need to think about the big picture. Why are you setting the goal that you’re setting? Jane knows that the app is a huge driver of customer loyalty, and that an uptick in their app usage could mean big things for the company’s bottom-line revenue goals. Now she revises her statement to reflect that context.

Grow the number of monthly users of Techfirm’s mobile app by 1,000 by optimizing our app-store listing and creating targeted social media campaigns for three social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Because mobile users tend to use our product longer, growing our app usage will ultimately increase profitability.

T: Time-bound

To properly measure success, you and your team need to be on the same page about when a goal has been reached. What’s your time horizon? When will the team start creating and implementing the tasks they’ve identified? When will they finish?

SMART goals should have time-related parameters built in, so everybody knows how to stay on track within a designated time frame.

When Jane incorporates those dates, her SMART goal is complete.

Grow the number of monthly users of Techfirm’s mobile app by 1,000 within Q1 of 2022. This will be accomplished by optimizing our app-store listing and creating targeted social media campaigns, which will begin running in February 2022, on three social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Since mobile is our primary point of conversion for paid-customer signups, growing our app usage will ultimately increase sales.

Knowing how to set goals using the SMART framework can help you succeed in setting and attaining goals, no matter how large or small.

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5 Dos and Don'ts When Making a SMART Goal [+Examples]

Clifford Chi

Published: June 09, 2023

Every year I create vague New Year's resolutions, but this year I decided to try something different.

SMART goals graphic with a woman holding a compass for direction, pens for writing goals, clock to time-bound, and chess pieces for strategy.

Using the SMART goal framework (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound), I reworded my 2023 goal from "read more books" to "read two books per month to hit my goal of reading 24 before the end of the year."

The SMART framework is an effective strategy for creating more specific and attainable goals. Plus, it provides benchmarks against which you can measure your progress — if you have a larger, more daunting goal, smaller steps can help you remain motivated.

Here, let's explore what SMART goals are, why they're important, and how to make your own.

Download your free marketing goal-setting template here. 

  • What are SMART Goals?
  • Why Are SMART Goals Important?

SMART Goal Examples

  • How to Make a SMART Goal

Download this Template for Free

In the working world, the influence of SMART goals continues to grow. The reason why successful marketing teams always hit their numbers is that they also set SMART goals. Use the template above to follow along and create your own SMART goals.

What are SMART goals?

SMART goals are concrete targets that you aim to hit over a certain period. These goals should be carefully drafted by a manager and their direct report to set them up for success. "SMART" is an acronym that describes the most important characteristics of each goal.

"SMART" stands for "specific," "measurable," "attainable," "relevant," and "time-bound." Each SMART goal should have these five characteristics to ensure the goal can be reached and benefits the employee. Find out what each characteristic means below, and how to write a SMART goal that exemplifies them.

SMART Goal Acronym

Most trace the SMART acronym back to a 1981 paper by George Doran, " There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management goals and objectives ." His colleagues Arthur Miller and James Cunningham are also credited for their work on this paper.

The "Objectives" section of this paper asks "How do you write meaningful objectives?" Then goes on to define the SMART acronym as the following:

  • Specific — target a specific area for improvement.
  • Measurable — quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.
  • Assignable — specify who will do it.
  • Realistic — state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
  • Time-related — specify when the result(s) can be achieved.

The meaning of each letter in this acronym can shift based on the user and how they want to apply this framework to their business. You can see the most popular terms and their best-known alternatives below:

SMART goals acronym

Image Source

The paper also says that not every goal will need to meet all five criteria. Instead, the goal was to use this acronym to create a benchmark for management excellence.

But today, the SMART acronym usually looks like this:

Measurable goals: Smart goals

SMART goals are:

This framework continues to be useful because it's easy to remember and can help streamline the goal-setting process.

Let's talk more about each part of the SMART acronym and how you can apply this as you create measurable goals for yourself and your team.

S — Specific

Specific goals are clear and include precise details. Specificity makes your goal easy to understand and carry out.

To check if your goal is specific, ask more than one person to review your goal and rephrase what you are trying to do. If your proofreaders come up with more than one idea of your final goal, it isn't specific enough.

M — Measurable

Measurable goals are targets that you can calculate and track over time. Goals that include a set measurement or metric are more concrete than anecdotal goals or plans based on someone’s opinion.

Measurable goals give you and your team a chance to track progress toward a goal and make changes over time. It also gives you a clear and specific picture of success.

To figure out how to make your goal measurable, look closely at your ultimate goal. Ask yourself:

  • How can we control this goal?
  • Is this goal clear and actionable?
  • Is there anything subjective about this goal?

Then, choose the metrics that most directly connect to your final goal. If you're not sure which metrics to choose, this guide to KPIs can help you get started.

A — Attainable

Attainable goals are challenging but achievable. This aspect of goal-setting should consider the unique qualities of your team well as the problems and blockers you work on together.

To set ambitious but attainable goals, start by thinking big . Create a list where you imagine the best possible outcomes. Take a break for a day or two, then come back and edit your list with every question, challenge, and critique you can think of.

Goals that are too easy to meet won't motivate your team or lead to growth. But goals that are unrealistic can demoralize your team and strain resources. It's important to find the right balance.

R — Relevant

Relevant goals support the mission, vision, and priorities of your business.

To make sure your SMART goals connect to your business goals, start the goal and objective-setting process with a quick review.

Read through your company's mission and vision statements , or print and post them on the wall in a shared space. Then review quarterly business reports, recent memos, or any recent communication about business goals. This will mean you start the process with what's relevant at the top of your mind.

After you draft your SMART goals, do another quick scan of these documents and review your goals for relevance.

It's easy to get excited about a new idea, even if it doesn't align with company priorities. But the best ideas will support your most essential business goals.

T — Time-Bound

Time-bound goals have a specific deadline or timeframe. Adding a time constraint to your goal creates a sense of urgency.

Urgency combines importance with a need for action. This is sometimes because there's a fear of consequences. Other times employees feel it because they're eager to prepare for the future or meet an exciting goal.

Time constraints are important to your goal-setting process. This is because tasks that are time-sensitive often feel more important than tasks without a timeframe attached. This means that, no matter how essential a project is, it will drop in priority without a deadline.

Luckily, it's easy to create a feeling of urgency. Just add a realistic timeframe to your goal . Time-bound goals also set clear expectations for stakeholders, which improves communication.

Why are SMART goals important?

SMART goals are important to set as they:

  • Help you work with clear intentions, not broad or vague goals
  • Provide a method to gauge your success by setting benchmarks to meet
  • Give sensible objectives that are realistic and achievable
  • Cut out unnecessary or irrelevant work that could take away from what’s important
  • Set a clear beginning and end to adhere to in reaching your goals

When you make goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound, you're increasing your odds for success by verifying that the goal is achievable, identifying the metrics that define success, and creating a roadmap to reach those metrics.

If your goals are abstract, if you don't know what it will take to achieve success, or if you don't give yourself a deadline to complete steps, you may lose focus and fall short of what you want to accomplish.

Do SMART goals actually work?

In short — yes, if done correctly .

For instance, one study found 76% of participants who wrote down their goals, made a list of goal-driven actions, and provided weekly progress reports to a friend achieved their goals — which is 33% higher than those with unwritten goals.

Additionally, I polled roughly 300 participants in the U.S. and found 52% believe SMART goals help them achieve their goals more often than if they didn't use a SMART framework.

SMART goals statistic showing people believe SMART goals work

Setting unrealistic goals and trying to measure them without consideration of previous performance, overly short time frames, or including too many variables will lead you off course.

However, these goals work only if formulated properly and if they take into account the motive and cadence of those working on them. Additionally, your SMART goals can only succeed when the employees working towards them have the means to achieve them.

Benefits of SMART Goals

Offer focus and clarity.

The process of goal completion is often more complicated than it seems. Distractions, side tasks, and other projects can all steer you away from completing your projects.

But SMART goals improve focus because they simplify your to-do list of tasks. At the same time, they offer an immediate reminder of why those specific tasks are important.

Boost Motivation

It's not unusual to experience stress or overwhelm in the workplace. One contributor is often a lack of clear goals. And that combination can make a serious impact on your motivation.

But a SMART goal can boost energy, improve direction, and motivate you and your team because:

  • It gets everyone more involved in the process
  • It helps employees understand why their work is important
  • It offers a new challenge and direction for people who are feeling stuck

Improve Accountability

Fear of failure often stops people from doing their best work. To avoid this stressor, you might avoid making a commitment in the workplace.

But accountability is an essential for high-growth teams. It helps you and your team engage, take ownership of their work, and take responsibility for progress.

SMART goals improve accountability because they give teams and managers a simple way to track progress toward shared objectives. This makes it easier for teams to understand the learning, coaching, and feedback they need to optimize performance.

SMART goals also help teams manage and plan their time more effectively. They make it easier to prioritize tasks too.

Strengthen Communication

According to 2023 data from Project.co , 68% of businesspeople have wasted time due to communication issues. And only 7% of businesses rate their communication as "excellent." Clearly, effective communication is both difficult and essential to any business.

SMART goals help with effective communication. This is because they're goals that multiple coworkers, teams, and departments can quickly understand. This improves knowledge-sharing, collaborative efforts, and communication.

Help Manage Resources

Proper resource management can reduce costs, make processes more efficient, and increase productivity. But managing resources is tough.

Put simply, a business is a group of people, each with distinct knowledge and experience, working toward individual goals. These individual goals eventually come together to meet common goals, but in the process, things can get a little wonky.

But SMART goals are great for resource management. This is because they offer a structure that makes it easier for teams to see where a process is creating blocks or challenges. This helps teams understand when priorities and resources are out of sync. It also creates a shared purpose that can inspire people to make necessary but difficult changes.

Increase Innovation

Innovation is a process that combines creativity and problem-solving skills to get original ideas. You may have heard the common belief says that creativity requires a lack of boundaries. And some critiques of SMART goals say that they can have negative impacts if goal-setting is too rigid or narrowly defined.

But there's extensive data, including this research from Harvard Business Review , that says constraints often positively impact innovation. SMART goals boost innovation because they create motivational challenges. The motivation comes in part from the constraints teams need to work within.

Enhance Performance

For managers, SMART goals offer a useful framework for improving employee performance. They make progress toward project goals clear. This goal-setting framework can also apply to long-term personal goals for each member of your team.

For individuals, SMART goals can make it easier to balance and track work projects. They can boost performance because they help you:

  • Measure progress
  • Identify strengths and weaknesses
  • Build positive momentum

Setting and working toward SMART goals can also help you develop new behaviors that can improve performance.

Let’s take a look at some realistic examples of SMART goals to paint a clearer picture of what they are.

  • Blog Traffic Goal
  • Facebook Video Views Goal
  • Email Subscription Goal
  • Webinar Sign-Up Goal
  • Landing Page Performance Goal
  • Link-Building Strategy Goal
  • Reduce Churn Rate Goal
  • Brand Affinity Goal
  • Podcast Listener Count Goal
  • In-Person Event Attendee Goal

1. Blog Traffic Goal

  • Specific : I want to boost our blog's traffic by increasing our weekly publishing frequency from five to eight times a week. Our two bloggers will increase their workload from writing two posts a week to three posts a week, and our editor will increase her workload from writing one post a week to two posts a week.
  • Measurable : Our goal is an 8% increase in traffic.
  • Attainable : Our blog traffic increased by 5% last month when we increased our weekly publishing frequency from three to five times a week.
  • Relevant : By increasing blog traffic, we'll boost brand awareness and generate more leads, giving sales more opportunities to close.
  • Time-Bound : End of this month.
  • SMART Goal : At the end of this month, our blog will see an 8% lift in traffic by increasing our weekly publishing frequency from five posts per week to eight posts per week.

smart goal example on blog traffic

2. Facebook Video Views Goal

  • Specific: I want to boost our average views per native video by cutting our video content mix from eight topics to our five most popular topics.
  • Measurable: Our goal is a 25% increase in views.
  • Attainable: When we cut down our video content mix on Facebook from 10 topics to our eight most popular topics, our average views per native video increased by 20%.
  • Relevant: By increasing average views per native video on Facebook, we'll boost our social media following and brand awareness, reaching more potential customers with our video content.
  • Time-Bound: In six months.
  • SMART Goal: In six months, we'll see a 25% increase in average video views per native video on Facebook by cutting our video content mix from eight topics to our five most popular topics.

3. Email Subscription Goal

  • Specific: I want to boost the number of email blog subscribers by increasing our Facebook advertising budget on blog posts that historically acquire the most email subscribers.
  • Measurable: Our goal is a 50% increase in subscribers.
  • Attainable: Since we started using this tactic three months ago, our email blog subscriptions have increased by 40%.
  • Relevant: By increasing the number of email blog subscribers, our blog will drive more traffic, boost brand awareness, and drive more leads to our sales team.
  • Time-Bound: In three months.
  • SMART Goal: In three months, we'll see a 50% increase in the number of email blog subscribers by increasing our Facebook advertising budget on posts that historically acquire the most blog subscribers.

4. Webinar Sign-Up Goal

  • Specific: I want to increase the number of sign-ups for our Facebook Messenger webinar by promoting it through social, email, our blog, and Facebook Messenger.
  • Measurable: Our goal is a 15% increase in sign-ups.
  • Attainable: Our last Facebook Messenger webinar saw a 10% increase in sign-ups when we only promoted it through social, email, and our blog.
  • Relevant: When our webinars generate more leads, sales have more opportunities to close.
  • Time-Bound: By June 1, the day of the webinar.
  • SMART Goal: By June 1, the day of our webinar, we'll see a 15% increase in sign-ups by promoting it through social, email, our blog, and Facebook Messenger.

smart goal example on webinar sign-ups

5. Landing Page Performance Goal

  • Specific: I want our landing pages to generate more leads by switching from a one-column form to a two-column form.
  • Measurable: My goal is a 30% increase in lead generation.
  • Attainable: When we A/B tested our traditional one-column form versus a two-column form on our highest-traffic landing pages, we discovered that two-column forms convert 27% better than our traditional one-column forms, at a 99% significance level.
  • Relevant: If we generate more content leads, sales can close more customers.
  • Time-Bound: One year from now.
  • SMART Goal: One year from now, our landing pages will generate 30% more leads by switching their forms from one column to two columns.

6. Link-Building Strategy Goal

  • Specific: I want to increase our website's organic traffic by developing a link-building strategy that gets other publishers to link to our website. This increases our ranking in search engine results, allowing us to generate more organic traffic.
  • Measurable: Our goal is 40 backlinks to our company homepage.
  • Attainable: According to our SEO analysis tool , there are currently 500 low-quality links directing to our homepage from elsewhere on the internet. Given the number of partnerships we currently have with other businesses, and that we generate 10 new inbound links per month without any outreach on our part, an additional 40 inbound links from a single link-building campaign is a significant but feasible target.
  • Relevant: Organic traffic is our top source of new leads, and backlinks are one of the biggest ranking factors on search engines like Google. If we build links from high-quality publications, our organic ranking increases, boosting our traffic and leads as a result.
  • Time-Bound: Four months from now.
  • SMART Goal: Over the next four months, I will build 40 additional backlinks that direct to www.ourcompany.com. To do so, I will collaborate with Ellie and Andrew from our PR department to connect with publishers and develop an effective outreach strategy.

7. Reducing Churn Rate Goal

  • Specific: I want to reduce customer churn by 5% for my company because every customer loss is a reflection of our service’s quality and perception.
  • Measurable: Contact 30 at-risk customers per week and provide customer support daily for five new customers during their onboarding process.
  • Attainable: Our product offering has just improved and we have the means to invest more into our customer support team, and could potentially have five at-risk customers to upscale monthly.
  • Relevant: We can set up a customer knowledge base to track customers’ progression in the buyer’s journey and prevent churn by contacting them before they lose interest.
  • Time-Bound: In 24 weeks.
  • SMART Goal: In 24 weeks, I will reduce the churn rate by 5% for my company. To do so, we will contact 30 at-risk customers per week and provide/invest in customer support to assist five new customers during onboarding daily and track their progress through a customer knowledge base.

8. Brand Affinity Goal

  • Specific: I want to increase our podcast listener count as we are trying to establish ourselves as thought leaders in our market.
  • Measurable: A 40% increase in listeners is our goal.
  • Attainable: We can increase our current budget and level our podcaster’s cadence, to have the means to hold insightful conversations for our listeners to tune into.
  • Relevant: We created a podcast and have dedicated a team to source interesting guests, sound mixing, and eye-catching thumbnails to get it started.
  • Time-Bound: In four months.
  • SMART Goal: In four months, we'll see a 40% increase in average listener count in Apple Podcasts by providing our team the budget and cadence to make insightful podcasts with quality sound mixing and eye-catching thumbnails.

9. Podcast Listener Count Goal

  • Specific : I want to boost our podcast's listener count by promoting our podcast across social channels. We will post four quotes related to new podcast episodes throughout the month on our Twitter account, and we will post six short videos of our podcast conversations with guests on our Instagram account throughout the month.
  • Measurable : Our goal is a 20% increase in podcast listeners.
  • Attainable : Our podcast listener count increased by 5% last month when we published two short videos of our podcast conversation on Instagram.
  • Relevant : By increasing podcast listener count, we'll boost brand awareness and generate more leads, giving sales more opportunities to close.
  • SMART Goal : At the end of this month, our podcast will see a 20% increase in listeners by increasing our social media promotions from two Instagram posts to four Twitter posts and six Instagram posts.

10. In-Person Event Attendee Goal

  • Specific : I want to boost attendance at our upcoming in-person event by 50% by sending out three email reminders to our subscriber lists each week before the event.
  • Measurable : Our goal is a 50% increase in attendees.
  • Attainable : Our attendee number increased by 20% last year when we sent out one email reminder to our subscriber lists.
  • Relevant : By increasing attendee count, we'll increase brand loyalty by providing value to our existing customers, and generate more leads.
  • Time-Bound : August 30.
  • SMART Goal : By the time of our event on August 30th, our attendee number will increase by 50% from where it's at now (250 attendees), by sending out three email reminders to our subscriber lists.

Now that you’ve seen examples of SMART goals, let’s dive into how to make your own.

smart goal business plan

Free SMART Goal Template

A free template to help you create S.M.A.R.T. goals for marketing campaign success.

  • Set your goals
  • Calculate your metrics
  • Evaluate your success

You're all set!

Click this link to access this resource at any time.

Fill out this form to access the template.

How to make a smart goal.

  • Use specific wording.
  • Include measurable goals.
  • Aim for realistically attainable goals.
  • Pick relevant goals that relate to your business.
  • Make goals time-bound by including a timeframe and deadline information.

How to make a SMART goal: Do’s and Don’ts

1. Use specific wording.

When writing SMART goals , keep in mind that they are "specific" in that there's a hard and fast destination the employee is trying to reach. "Get better at my job," isn't a SMART goal because it isn't specific. Instead, ask yourself: What are you getting better at? How much better do you want to get?

If you're a marketing professional, your job probably revolves around key performance indicators or KPIs. Therefore, you might choose a particular KPI or metric that you want to improve on — like visitors, leads, or customers. You should also identify the team members working toward this goal, the resources they have, and their plan of action.

In practice, a specific SMART goal might say, "Clifford and Braden will increase the blog's traffic from email ..." You know exactly who's involved and what you're trying to improve on.

Common SMART Goal Mistake: Vagueness

While you may need to keep some goals more open-ended, you should avoid vagueness that could confuse your team later on. For example, instead of saying, "Clifford will boost email marketing experiences," say "Clifford will boost email marketing click rates by 10%."

2. Include measurable goals.

SMART goals should be "measurable" in that you can track and quantify the goal's progress. "Increase the blog's traffic from email," by itself, isn't a SMART goal because you can't measure the increase. Instead, ask yourself: How much email marketing traffic should you strive for?

If you want to gauge your team's progress, you need to quantify your goals, like achieving an X-percentage increase in visitors, leads, or customers.

Let's build on the SMART goal we started above. Now, our measurable SMART goal might say, "Clifford and Braden will increase the blog's traffic from email by 25% more sessions per month ... " You know what you're increasing, and by how much.

Common SMART Goal Mistake: No KPIs

This is in the same light of avoiding vagueness. While you might need qualitative or open-ended evidence to prove your success, you should still come up with a quantifiable KPI. For example, instead of saying, "Customer service will improve customer happiness," say, "We want the average call satisfaction score from customers to be a seven out of ten or higher."

3. Aim for realistically attainable goals.

An "attainable" SMART goal considers the employee's ability to achieve it. Make sure that X-percentage increase is rooted in reality. If your blog traffic increased by 5% last month, try to increase it by 8-10% this month, rather than a lofty 25%.

It's crucial to base your goals on your own analytics, not industry benchmarks, or else you might bite off more than you can chew. So, let's add some "attainability" to the SMART goal we created earlier in this blog post: "Clifford and Braden will increase the blog's traffic from email by 8-10% more sessions per month ... " This way, you're not setting yourself up to fail.

Common SMART Goal Mistake: Unattainable Goals

Yes. You should always aim to improve. But reaching for completely unattainable goals may knock you off course and make it harder to track progress. Rather than saying, "We want to make 10,000% of what we made in 2022," consider something more attainable, like, "We want to increase sales by 150% this year," or "We have a quarterly goal to reach a 20% year-over-year sales increase."

4. Pick relevant goals that relate to your business.

SMART goals that are "relevant" relate to your company's overall business goals and account for current trends in your industry. For instance, will growing your traffic from email lead to more revenue? And, is it actually possible for you to significantly boost your blog's email traffic given your current email marketing campaigns?

If you're aware of these factors, you’re more likely to set goals that benefit your company — not just you or your department.

So, what does that do to our SMART goal? It might encourage you to adjust the metric you're using to track the goal's progress. For example, maybe your business has historically relied on organic traffic for generating leads and revenue, and research suggests you can generate more qualified leads this way.

Our SMART goal might instead say, "Clifford and Braden will increase the blog's organic traffic by 8-10% more sessions per month." This way, your traffic increase is aligned with the business's revenue stream.

Common SMART Goal Mistake: Losing Sight of the Company

When your company is doing well, it can be easy to say you want to pivot or grow in another direction. While companies can successfully do this, you don't want your team to lose sight of how the core of your business works.

Rather than saying, "We want to start a new B2B business on top of our B2C business," say something like, "We want to continue increasing B2C sales while researching the impact our products could have on the B2B space in the next year."

5. Make goals time-bound by including a timeframe and deadline information.

A "time-bound" SMART goal keeps you on schedule. Improving on a goal is great, but not if it takes too long. Attaching deadlines to your goals puts a healthy dose of pressure on your team to accomplish them. This helps you make consistent and significant progress in the long term.

For example, which would you prefer: increasing organic traffic by 5% every month, leading to a 30-35% increase in half a year? Or trying to increase traffic by 15% with no deadline and achieving that goal in the same timeframe? If you picked the former, you're right.

So, what does our SMART goal look like once we bound it to a timeframe? "Over the next three months, Clifford and Braden will work to increase the blog's organic traffic by 8-10%, reaching a total of 50,000 organic sessions by the end of August."

Common SMART Goal Mistake: No Time Frame

Having no timeframe or a really broad span of time noted in your goal will cause the effort to get reprioritized or make it hard for you to see if your team is on track. Rather than saying. "This year, we want to launch a major campaign," say, "In quarter one, we will focus on campaign production in order to launch the campaign in quarter two."

Make Your SMART Goals SMART-er

Now that you know what a SMART goal is, why it's important, and the framework to create one, it's time to put that information into practice. Whether you're setting goals for a personal achievement or as part of hitting important marketing milestones, it's good to start with what you want to achieve and then reverse-engineer it into a concrete SMART goal.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in December 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

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A free template to help you create SMART goals for marketing campaign success.

SMART Goals Examples

Using the smart goal setting method

Do you ever feel that however hard you work towards an objective, it moves further away? The key might be to make your goals more realistic, clear, focused and measurable. The SMART method can help.

In this article, we’ll define the SMART goal-setting approach, explain how to use SMART goals, and provide some practical SMART goals examples.

Interwoven in the SMART goal examples will be the best practices in implementing the SMART method. We’ll also introduce the concept of using SMART goals in an OKR (objectives and key results) methodology and detail the similarities of the frameworks.

Table of Contents

What are SMART goals?

The benefits of smart goals for businesses., examples of smart goals., smart metrics examples and okrs., frequently asked questions..

SMART is an acronym, which stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. This sets the criteria for setting goals and objectives and also provides a framework for measuring success.

SMART goals are used in strategic planning to develop concrete business goals geared towards execution in a defined period, often during quarterly planning or annual planning meetings.

Examples of SMART goals should be:

  • Specific – Provides a clear description of what needs to be accomplished.
  • Measurable – Provides a metric, or number, that identifies when the objective has been achieved.
  • Attainable – The objective must be achievable, within the timeframe and resources allocated.
  • Relevant – Meaningful, significant, and aligned with corporate priorities.
  • Time-Bound – The objective must be concluded by a specific date.

George T. Doran first introduced the SMART method in the November 1981 issue of Management Review in a paper titled “There’s a S.M.A.R.T. Way to Write Management Goals and Objectives.”

You might set objectives with the best intentions, but with no clear timeframes, actions, rationale or specific details, it’s easy for them to go straight to the backburner.

The benefits of the SMART system include:

  • Organization – By breaking down and categorizing your objectives, you can plan them more clearly. This helps you to assign and monitor your goals.
  • Direction – If you measure your goal against a criterion, it’s easier to plan a route to success.
  • Motivation – It’s easier to stay motivated if you make consistent progress and feel like your goal is within reach.
  • Realism – By ensuring your goals fit into the SMART criteria, you can think more clearly about whether or not they’re realistic. Not ready yet? You can make a different SMART goal to get you closer.

It’s easy to talk about the SMART goals, but what do they look like in practice? Here are some examples of business goals hitting the SMART criteria.

Company-level examples.

We will increase recurring revenue by 25% in 2021, exceeding our 2020 performance by acquiring additional new customers and reducing churn, which will improve overall corporate profitability. We will do so by hitting established targets each quarter throughout the year.

So why is this a SMART goal? If we break it down, you can see it’s:

  • Specific – Increase recurring revenue in 2021.
  • Measurable – Achieve a 25% increase versus one year earlier.
  • Attainable – Improve upon 2018 performance with 15% increase through new customers and reduced churn.
  • Relevant – Revenue is the engine that drives our profitability.
  • Time-Bound – Set specific numerical targets for each quarter in 2021.

People operations examples.

Improve the bench strength of the sales and marketing departments by reducing turnover of top performers in each discipline to no more than 10% annually, and onboarding at least three new people each quarter, within the allocated budget.

This will improve the overall performance of these two key disciplines which drive our sales and profitability, as measured by retention and recruiting metrics each quarter.

  • Specific – Improve the bench strength of the sales and marketing departments.
  • Measurable – Reduce turnover to less than 10% and recruit and hire at least three people each quarter.
  • Attainable – Salary and recruiting budgets are adequate to achieve these targets.
  • Relevant – Sales and Marketing are key drivers to the company’s revenue and profitability.
  • Time-Bound – A mix of quarterly and annual objectives.

Customer success examples.

Improve customer service by improving the user experience and reducing response times, as measured by our NPS score, which we’ll improve from 95 to 98. This will reduce customer churn and improve our reputation in the industry, as measured by quarterly response time and NPS metrics.

  • Specific – Improve customer service and the user experience.
  • Measurable – Respond to all tickets within 12 hours and increase NPS score to 98.
  • Attainable – Response times and NPS score represent incremental improvement versus one year ago.
  • Relevant – Our customer’s experience will determine our ability to grow.
  • Time-Bound – As measured by quarterly metrics for response times and NPS scores.

SMART goals needn’t work in isolation. Many examples of SMART goals for strategic planning use the criteria to form OKRs — objectives and key results.

What are OKRs?

OKRs are designed for companies, teams and individuals working towards a common purpose, combining:

  • Annual goals
  • Quarterly objectives
  • Data-driven benchmarks

OKRs are larger-scale objectives designed to drive alignment, performance and results. They help focus everyone on the same priorities. Think of them like an overarching plan that people in a business can work towards.

They should be significant, concrete, and action-oriented. They represent the direction. Setting and achieving key results throughout the process can help managers and strategists benchmark and monitor how to get to the objective. They should be succinct, specific, and measurable. They typically include hard numbers.

Using a strategic planning tool like Adobe Workfront Goals can ensure your OKRs are SMART, tracked effectively , and aligned to your organization's strategic goals.

Both goal setting frameworks provide criteria and a methodology for developing goals, and both methods address each element of the SMART acronym.

Let’s take a look at how.

OKRs encompass SMART goal criteria.

Here, you can see how an OKR can and should be SMART. For example:

  • Specific – Objectives are specific, answering what needs to be accomplished.
  • Measurable – Key results are measurable, they are typically metrics or numbers which define when the objective is achieved.
  • Attainable – Objectives are attainable, yet inspirational, and in some cases aspirational. Google, for example, uses two types of objectives, which they refer to as aspirational and committed. Aspirational goals require more of a stretch by the organization and may need to be rolled from period to period before being accomplished.
  • Relevant – Objectives are relevant. They must be aligned with corporate priorities, moving the organization in the desired direction, often in support of the mission or vision statements . Quarterly OKRs determine the focus of the entire organization and inform the work to be done in the period.
  • Time-Bound – Key results are time-bound, the typical cadence in an OKR environment is quarterly. Key results are expected to be completed within the current quarter.

Company SMART goal example as an OKR.

Here, you can see an example SMART goal as an OKR. Setting out key results gives managers and staff a clear strategy to work towards.

OBJECTIVE: Increase recurring revenue by 25% in 2021.

Key Results:

  • Key Result 1 – Generate ARR of $250k per quarter, $1 million in 2021.
  • Key Result 2 – Secure a net gain of at least five new customers per quarter nationally.
  • Key Result 3 – Hire three new account executives per quarter.

OKRs adhere to the SMART methodology.

When set out in the SMART format, you can see how the OKR has a bit more context and rationale.

  • Specific – Increase recurring revenue by 25%.
  • Measurable – Generate ARR of $250k per quarter.
  • Attainable – By securing the required number of new customers and aided by an increase in manpower, the objective should be achievable in the specified time frame.
  • Relevant – Revenue is still the engine that drives profitability.
  • Time-Bound – $250k in ARR, five new customers, and three new account executives every quarter.

SMART goals and objectives examples can help you think smarter about your company goals and objectives. Remember, by using the SMART method, you can make all goals and OKRs more realistic, disciplined and measurable. By doing so, you can inspire people across your business to achieve them.

Want to learn other goal-setting and management techniques for your business? Check out our guides to:

  • MBO (management by objectives)
  • Project time management

What are the five SMART goals in strategic planning?

In strategic planning, SMART goals are similar to other aspects of business management, they need to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. When each element of this acronym is met, strategic plans can be more likely to work when executing .

SMART goals help strategic planners to sense-check objectives to make sure they’re realistic and definable, reducing the risk of projects extending further than planned.

How do you write a SMART goal?

To write a SMART goal, separate each element of your overall project aim. It’s likely that any business activity will have a number of sub-goals, and each should be considered on its own merit.

Next, note down the SMART acronym and assess how specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and timely each goal is. Try to avoid ‘yes’, ‘no’ or subjective judgements and, instead, note which specific idea the goal is grounded on and exactly how you’ll measure success or failure

How can I use SMART goals in each phase of the project life cycle?

At the project initiation stage , project managers can use SMART goals to make or assess the business case. Eliminating goals that don’t meet the criteria can also help to keep project scope streamlined from the beginning.

During the project planning phase , SMART goals can define the project schedule and ensure this is realistic. This can also help form a risk analysis.

When executing a project, you can return to your SMART goals to assign clear responsibilities based on what you’ve defined as actionable.

Once you reach the monitoring and controlling stage , return to the measures you mapped to each goal earlier on. Finally, in closing the project , you can assess how realistic your initial plans were.


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  1. What Are SMART Goals?

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  2. Who Invented SMART Goals?

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