Setting business goals that work

4 min read
Will Stevens

Business goals are a great way to ensure your plans for growth stay on track. But if you set yourself irrelevant, overambitious, or even under-ambitious goals then they could end up doing more harm than good.

In this guide we'll look at how you can set business goals that will help your business grow.

What makes a good business goal?

Clearly, everyone wants their business to grow and succeed, but these in themselves are not good business goals.

Why? Well, with goals like that how would you tell if you'd met them? Setting nebulous business goals is one of the most common mistakes in this area.

The way to avoid it is to use SMART business goals.

What are SMART business goals?

SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound.

The idea is that if you can apply all these labels to a particular business goal, then that means the goal is worth pursuing.

Let's consider each aspect of SMART business goals in turn.

Setting business goals that are specific

The idea behind this step is to avoid setting goals that are loosely defined (like the "grow your business" goal example we discussed earlier.)

So instead of just aiming to grow your business, you could set a specific goal of increasing sales by 20% year-on-year. Already you can see how much easier it will be to tell if you have achieved your goal or not.

And specific goals don't have to cover just sales, they can cover any aspect of business. For example, you might want to increase your search engine visibility by 100% year-on-year, or grow your email marketing list to 1,000 subscribers.

Whatever goal you're setting, make it as specific as you possibly can.

Setting business goals that are measurable

Ensuring a goal is measurable is pretty straightforward, although you'd be surprised how often this gets left out.

In most cases, if you're setting a specific goal you'll find it's measurable anyway, but don't let this step slip from you mind.

As well as ensuring your goal is measurable, you'll also need to ensure that you actually have the tools in place to measure results.

For most online businesses, Google Analytics will be able to measure most goals you set. You can learn more about Google Analytics in this guide.

You may also need to get to grips with your business's conversion rate.

Setting business goals that are attainable

If your goal is unrealistic, then you're not going to achieve it. It's as simple as that. Equally, if you set goals that aren't challenging enough then you might not achieve everything you could have.

Setting attainable goals can be tricky, especially if it's not something you've done before.

At this stage, it's a good idea to plan out the tactics and resources you'll use to reach your goal. By doing so, you'll get a better idea of whether your goal is attainable.

Setting business goals that are relevant

Sometimes it can be tempting to set goals that don't offer any real value to your business. For example, increasing the number of followers you have on social media might seem attractive, but it won't really bring any value to your business.

Make sure that the goals you set will actually help your business grow and succeed in either the short or long term.

Setting business goals that are time-bound

If a goal doesn't have a set timeframe in which it needs to be achieved, then you'll never know if that goal has been completed (or not).

Make sure you place fixed deadlines for any goal you create.

Monitoring your progress towards your business goals

Business goals shouldn't be set up and then forgotten about until your deadline arrives.

Regular monitoring of the progress you're making towards your goals can be a vital step in achieving them.

By review your progress, you can change the methods you're using to achieve them if required.

Reviewing your business goals

Whenever a goal's deadline has passed, it's important to take stock and see what you can learn from your success (or otherwise.)

If you've met your goal, you may discover that you were under-ambitious when setting up your goal. Or perhaps you'll discover a tactic you used to meet your goal could be applied more generally across your business.

If you didn't meet your goal, you should consider why and use that information to improve future efforts.

Summing up

The exact goals you set will depend on the nature of your business, but now you should have a solid framework which you can use to create business goals that work for you.