Have you ever tried an escape room?
You know, the tiny rooms that groups of friends willingly lock themselves into in hopes of sniffing out clues, solving thought-provoking puzzles, and beating the hour-long clock in order to eventually break themselves free? These rooms are typically littered with frustratingly unspecific hints, making them very challenging. At most escape room locations, the list of defeated victims far outnumbers the wall of victors.
The real challenge of escape rooms lies in their lack of specificity. Every member of the group knows that the overall goal of an escape room is to get out, but without detailed guidelines and clear courses of action along the way, groups become utterly confused. Measuring success also becomes blurry, given that no one really knows when, or if, they’re truly solving the clues that matter.
There is no doubt that challenging escape rooms can be fun; however, this level of chaos has no place in the business world. Unfortunately, some business owners attempt to run their company in an eerily similar way.
A Lack of Specificity Leads To Chaos
Just as everyone in an escape room knows that the underlying goal is to get out, business owners also have a firm grasp on what their underlying goal is: to make money and grow their business. But those overarching goals are simply not specific enough to successfully cross any finish line. Still, too many business owners leave their goals as vague as the clues that fill an escape room. This scenario sets the perfect backdrop for a chaotic show, one in which frustration is sure to ensue and the prospect of achieving goals feels far out of reach.
The good news? It doesn’t have to be this way! Proper planning can lead to specific goal setting that is both trackable and achievable. And what better time to set and execute these detailed guidelines for success than before the start of a brand new year? Today, we’re explaining our number one recommendation for properly executing a structured way to set (and achieve) specific business goals.
Whether your business is just starting out, needing to emerge victorious from a rough patch, or just wanting to continue the recent success you’ve already experienced, SMART goals can help.
You have probably heard the term, “SMART goals” in the past. Today, we’re breaking down this acronym, letter by letter, in order to demonstrate the fact that specific goal setting will lead to unmatched success.
What Are SMART Goals?
SMART goals allow businesses to develop laser-like focus. They outline your business’ specific path to success, help you to stay on course in a timely fashion, and best of all, make vague goal tracking a thing of the past.
Let’s break down the details of each letter and introduce some questions that you should be asking yourself in order to ensure that your goals are truly SMART.
As the example of the escape room demonstrated, a lack of specificity leads to chaos. Set your business up for success by taking the time to outline specific ways that you will work toward achieving your overarching business goal.
Specific goals are simple and straight-forward. They are practical, yet significant. They are your overarching goal, broken down into bite-size chunks.
Is your business’ overall goal broken down into more specific sub-goals? Think small-scale and ask yourself these questions:
- What do I want to accomplish?
- Why is this goal important?
- Who is involved?
- Where is it located?
- Which resources or limits are involved?
Being able to measure and track progress is one of the most important aspects necessary for success. Benchmarks that are meaningful and motivating should be set in order to hold both business owners and employees accountable.
A measurable goal should answer the following:
- How much?
- How many?
- How will I know when it is accomplished?
Goals that stretch us are beneficial because they often build character and make us resilient. So, it makes sense that setting stimulating business goals would be acceptable. However, it is also crucial to remember that your goals must be realistic. Do not try to set a goal that you know will not be possible for your business to accomplish in a timely manner. This will only set you up for disappointment.
Consider all aspects of your business and all of the resources that you have at your disposal and answer the following:
- How can I accomplish this goal?
- How realistic is the goal, based on other constraints, such as financial factors?
- Do I have the resources and time to accomplish this without spreading myself too thin?
Goals must be results-oriented. This means that they are reasonable, they matter to all involved, and they are focused on accomplishing the overall goal of the company. Another important aspect of this is making sure that all individual, sub-goals must align and mesh well together. Results-oriented goals cause business owners and their employees to feel responsible for dedicating their time to what truly matters.
A results-oriented goal will answer "yes" to these questions:
- Does this seem worthwhile?
- Is this the right time?
- Does this match our other efforts/needs?
- Am I the right person to reach this goal?
- Is it applicable in our current environment?
The last letter of SMART stands for “time-bound.” Every goal needs a target end date. These deadlines give employees something to focus on and strive toward. Goals that are time-based have higher success rates because there is an element of urgency that pushes those involved toward the finish line.
A time-bound goal will answer these types of questions:
- What can I do six months from now?
- What can I do six weeks from now?
- What can I do today?
Now, let’s go back to the escape room, only this time, each step involved in breaking free is perfectly lined out for you. You go down the list, checking off the items one by one until at last, you discover the final piece of the puzzle that opens the door and lets you out. That scenario is, of course, too easy for an escape room, but wouldn’t it be nice if accomplishing your business’ goals felt that straightforward?
Escape from unspecific, general goals that could be holding your business back from achieving its overall objectives in a timely manner. Set your SMART goals today!
Information adapted from https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/smart-goals.htm