Entrepeneurs, Marketing, Operations, Small Business

Tips for Writing Your Goals and SMART Objectives

How Do I Start Creating Goals and Objectives?

In a previous blog post, I talked about the rationale for setting goals and objectives and how it helps your business.  I defined the difference between a goal and an objective as well as provided some concrete examples of a business goal and a business objective.  Everyone’s goals and objectives may be different depending on the type of business and the current stage that your business is in.  Just as a refresher, below are the definitions of a goal and of an objective, and some examples of goals and objectives as well.

More Examples of Goals and Objectives

Goals: Definition and Examples

Goal [definition]: A goal is a long-term end result that a business hopes to achieve.  Goals can be created for the overall business, for the sales department, for the marketing department, or even just for social media.

  • Example of a business goal: Increase profit margins by 50%
  • Example of a sales goal: Exceed sales targets by 10%
  • Example of a marketing goal: Increase brand awareness amongst new customers
  • Example of a social media goal: Increase customer interactions by 20%

For goals, my preference is to keep them long-term but I like to set a timeframe of approximately a year to achieve them.  This keeps it realistic and attainable.  Nothing can be more demotivating than feeling like you aren’t making progress towards a goal.

Objectives: Definition and Examples

Objective [definition]: An objective is a strategy or steps required for the business to reach its goals.  Again, objectives can be created for each type of goal.  There can be business objectives, sales objectives, marketing objectives, and social media objectives.

Here are some examples of objectives, and they help to attain the goals listed directly above.

  • Example of a business objective: Decrease manufacturing expenses by 10% by June 2019.
  • Example of a sales objective: Increase sales of accessories by 20% during the Christmas season (November to December 2018).
  • Example of a marketing objective:  Create 10 YouTube videos by June 2019 that show the history of the brand and its products.
  • Example of a social media objective: Launch 3 social media campaigns in 2018 that will request user-generated content.

Objectives are more specific and detailed compared to goals.  The social media goal “increase customer interactions” can be achieved in multiple ways, using multiple social media platforms and tactics.  Since objectives are more tactic-based, this means you can have one or more objectives to help you achieve one goal.

Writing Your Own Goals and Objectives

So how do you go about writing your goals and objectives so that they can motivate you but also be useful to you in your business or marketing plan?

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Tips for Writing Your Goals

1. Keep it simple

Goals tend to be more generic and lofty, without details about HOW you are going to achieve them.  So keep them simple.  Keep your mind open to the possibility that there are multiple ways to achieve one goal.

2. Challenge yourself

Your goal should push you and your business to grow and be better.  It should be challenging enough that you will need to work for it.

3. BUT…make it attainable

Nothing can be more demotivating than having a goal that you can’t reach.  If you don’t have the resources or ability to reach the goal then it’s not attainable and won’t help you drive your business forward.

After creating your goals, you can then look at what objectives will help you achieve those goals.  To proper structure your objectives, we use the SMART method.

SMART Tips for Writing Your Objectives

Some of you may have heard about the SMART method of writing your objectives.  SMART is an acronym which reminds you of the 5 important criteria for writing objectives that will help you achieve your goal.  SMART stands for:

SMART objectives

Let’s review the criteria and give some ideas and examples of good and bad objectives.

S is for SPECIFIC

Specific objectives only focus on improving one area of the business.  Being specific gives you clarity into the tasks that need to be completed for you to meet your objective.

Generic objective: Increase the yearly revenue

Specific objective: Increase the yearly revenue by creating a loyalty program to encourage patients to return monthly.

Looking at the two objectives above, yearly revenue can be increased in a variety of different ways, by increasing the number or frequency of billings, decreasing costs, or increasing the number of patients.  By being specific, as in the second example, your office can then focus their efforts on patient retention instead of patient recruitment.  Being specific allows you to easily measure your successes as well, which leads us to the next criteria.

person writing on notebook
Are you writing your objectives so that you can measure your success?

M is for Measurable

An objective is measurable if you are able to somehow quantify with numbers, whether you are reaching your objective or not.  If you don’t have any processes set up to measure whether you are reaching your objective, then that would be an immeasurable objective.

Immeasurable objective: Increase brand awareness amongst Facebook followers in Vancouver

Measurable objectiveIncrease likes, comments, and shares on Facebook.

Looking at the examples above, brand awareness is definitely an immeasurable objective since how do you figure out brand awareness unless you interview everyone in Vancouver?  However, if you count the customer interactions on Facebook by keeping track of likes, comments, and shares, then you are measuring the impact of your Facebook posts.  Being measurable doesn’t mean that you need to use fancy statistics.  Your way of measuring may just be keeping track on a spreadsheet.

A is for Attainable

Being attainable means your objective can be achieved.  It may be a challenge but using the right tools, resources, and hard work, you will reach your objective.

Unattainable objective: Double the number of patient bookings per clinician.

Attainable objective: Increase the number of patient bookings per clinician by 10%.

In the first example, the objective is unattainable if the clinician’s schedule is already 80% booked.  If the clinician doubles the number of bookings, that means they would be over capacity and couldn’t properly care for the patients on their schedule.  In the second example, a 10% increase in the number of patient bookings is more reasonable and attainable.

R is for Realistic

Closely related to the attainable criterion, an objective also needs to be realistic.

Unrealistic objective: Improve search engine results page ranking from the 10th page to the 1st page in a month.

Realistic objective: Improve search engine results page ranking from the 5th page to the 4th page in one year.

In the first example, the objective is unrealistic since a website cannot legitimately jump up in rankings so quickly.  It normally takes a website 6 months or longer to improve its Google ranking if proper SEO techniques are used.  Even then, you may only move from page 10 to page 8 within 6 months. In the second example, the timeframe is longer and the jump in rankings is realistic compared to the first example, based on what we know about Google and case studies.

flat lay photography of calendar
Do you have a timeframe to complete your objective?

T is for Timely

Being timely or being time-bound is a very important part of an objective since it gives you a set timeframe that you can measure whether you’ve achieved your objective.  Giving yourself a timeframe pushes you to achieve your objective faster and harder than if the objective is open-ended.

No timeframe: Increase the number of client referrals by 50%.

Time-bound: Increase the number of client referrals by 50% by the end of December 2018.

The first example is the start of a great objective since it’s a specific, realistic, and attainable objective that you can measure.  The challenge is how quickly are you going to get to that objective and find success?  You need a set timeframe to measure whether you’re reaching the 50% growth.  If you’re not reaching it halfway through the timeframe, you can make adjustments to your marketing tactics so that you can get more patient referrals.  The second example is an example of a time-bound objective where the end date is December 2018.

Depending on how you write the objective, being time-bound means you can also have a timeframe to compare against.  If you say “increase the number of client referrals by 50% this year compared to January 2017-December 2017”, this means you can compare the number of referrals from 2017 to 2018.  This will give you more accurate measurements as well.

Summary of Goals and Objectives

Ultimately, you want to write goals and objectives that are relevant to you and your business.  They could also be about your personal life as well.  The important thing is that the goals and objectives challenge you and push you out of your comfort zone.  They wouldn’t be very effective for you if they didn’t.

If you’re having problems coming up with some concrete goals and objectives, connect with me and I can help you fine-tune what you’ve got.

What’s the biggest challenge for you when you’re writing goals and objectives?  Feel free to share below!

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