Half of small businesses don’t survive the first five years. Another 20% don’t make it past the tenth year. Of course, outlier events, industry variance, growing competition and other factors may play a large part in their failure. However, these businesses’ failure to create and carry out SMART goals may also share some blame.
In an age where global expansion is almost expected, these kinds of goals are more important than ever. So, if you want to support your growing global business consider drafting up a few SMART goals during the transition.
What Are SMART Goals?
Before you can implement SMART goals in your business, you must first understand what they are. Unlike broad, overarching goals, SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. These characteristics form the acronym “SMART” and are impactful for every area of your business because they help you evaluate and improve your current standing.
Here’s a more detailed look at SMART goals and what it might look like to incorporate them in an office setting.
Many businesses fail to expand their horizons because they don’t know how to create specific goals. While they may want to attract new customers and find international business opportunities, these objectives are too broad to be measurable, attainable or achievable. Thus, they must narrow their focus to define what success looks like and formulate a better plan that includes several small milestones rather than one large one.
For instance, if you want to expand your network and connect with international businesses, create a specific goal of contacting one or two potential partners each week. Another objective might include making a certain number of connections by a set deadline.
SMART goals must also be measurable to be effective. Use existing data and metrics to determine your starting point and where you’d like to be. Then, measure and track your growth throughout the process. When you hit a certain number or make a particular target date, you’ll know you’ve succeeded.
Use qualitative and quantitative metrics to measure results and make sure everyone is on the same page when recording data. Otherwise, the information won’t accurately reflect your progress and you’ll have a difficult time improving.
Dreaming big is a key factor to growing a global business. Nonetheless, your aspirations should still be attainable, especially if you’re using a SMART goals model. Doing so will help you take feasible steps toward that one big goal and incentivize you to keep going when the going gets tough.
For example, if you’re receiving more negative customer reviews than usual, your goal shouldn’t be to nix these reviews altogether. This goal is both uncontrollable and unattainable. Instead, take things one step at a time and create a SMART goal of reaching out to each customer within the next 24 hours. Other goals might include hiring 10 more customer service representatives or adding live chat to your website by next month.
The “R” in SMART goals represents the relevance of any objective. How important is this goal right now? Because going global is such a huge undertaking, making several ambitious goals can be tempting. However, if they aren’t relevant to growing your business, they can actually distract you from achieving your ultimate goal.
Focus on more immediate priorities by making sure your objectives are timely and pertinent to a growing global business. For instance, instead of investing in a one-week website revamp, make a goal of designing a new Facebook ad or hiring social media managers to oversee all your accounts. These goals are more relevant because they’ll reach more people and convey specific messages to your overseas audience.
If there’s a goal worth achieving, you and your team must be able to complete it in a timely manner. Otherwise, your business will stall and growth opportunities will pass you by. Then, when you finally do accomplish your goal, other parts of your business may have suffered, which can set you back even further. Therefore, it’s essential that you create deadlines and stick to them.
Be realistic about how long the task will take and design a timeline to achieve it. Find the shortest distance from point A to point B by marking milestones along the way. Then, delegate tasks so that everyone is working together to attain the goal faster. Remember to brainstorm and prepare for possible derailments and incentivize early completion with rewards, too.
5 Tips to Create SMART Goals
Figuring out how SMART goals fit into your business plan can be tricky. However, implementing them as you plan for the future and make decisions is crucial to your success.
As you transition to the global arena, SMART goals will play a huge role in how you vie for competitive advantage and connect with your ever-expanding target audience. Below, you’ll find a few tips to help you begin brainstorming SMART goals — and how to get your entire team to join you.
1. Use the 6 Ws
When setting your goal, try using the six w questions to pin down specifics and succeed in even the smallest particulars.
- Who is involved? Stakeholders, workers, managers and consumers might have a part to play in helping your plan come to fruition.
- What do you want to accomplish? Define your ultimate goal and list smaller goals that you’ll need to achieve along the way. Consider measures of completion and what might happen if you can’t meet the scope of these milestones.
- When will it happen? Set deadlines and make a realistic timeline to help you and everyone else stay on track.
- Where will it happen? Think about where you’ll be financially, mentally and physically when you accomplish your goals. Will other areas of your business be ready to transition to the international market by then?
- Which barriers might get in the way? If there’s even a slight possibility of something coming between you and success, write it down and prepare for the potential scenario.
- Why is the goal important? Determine whether the goal is relevant by asking yourself why a particular target matters right here, right now and, if not, how soon it will become a priority.
Answering each of these questions will ensure you’re making truly SMART goals instead of vague wishes.
2. Get Everyone On Board
Of course, for you and your team to work cohesively, you must ensure that everyone’s on the same page regarding goal setting. Hold a meeting to discuss SMART goals and why each component of the acronym is so important to your company’s success. Connect the business’ growth to workers’ individual growth, achievement and expanding opportunities to further incentivize teamwork.
Once everyone understands the game plan, host a brainstorming session to identify potential barriers, find solutions and generate a task list. The more people you ask for input, the more perspectives you’ll receive and the more prepared you will be for failures and triumphs.
3. Tap Into Technology
Traditionally, businesses start locally and expand regionally, nationally and then internationally. However, the internet has accelerated the process. Now, small brands that serve a specific niche are starting internationally with web stores, online marketplaces and websites. If all goes well, they may open a shop or two or remain completely virtual.
Tap into that same technology and take your business online to lay the foundation for global growth. Hire a talent acquisition specialist to find and reach out to skilled international job candidates. Use marketing software and customer relationship management software to collect reports and analytics and track customer behavior. These global approaches This data will help you understand your campaign’s effectiveness and how you might improve it to reach a broader audience.
4. Incentivize Success
Nearly 75% of employees perceive the office atmosphere as good or very good during such incentive periods and 85% say they feel more motivated to do their best at work. So, when the team finally achieves a goal or a milestone, celebrate the win to incentivize future success. Whether they’re vying for a quarterly bonus, new desktop computer or just a dress-down day, odds are the reward will justify the means.
If, on the other hand, your team doesn’t accomplish a goal in time, you can apply negative consequences. Make sure everyone is aware of these consequences before working towards an objective to maximize its motivational power.
5. Review and Reassess
As you outline your SMART goals and nail down a timeline, remember to schedule assessment days. These days are crucial to your global success as you’ll be dedicating them to reviewing your goals and reassessing your plans to accomplish them. If all is going to plan, you can either carry on as you have been or look for new ways to accelerate growth. Likewise, if you’re falling behind schedule, you can start considering potential barriers and corresponding solutions.
Because SMART goals must be measurable, they tend to make performance reviews much easier, too. Use a network project tracking system, note their involvement and frequently review their productivity scores. Doing so will help you more quickly address idleness or a lack of creativity amongst team members so you can work together to rectify the issue.
Slow and Steady
As you actively pursue SMART goals, it’s critical that you focus on the process rather than the result. Measure and track progress throughout the transition and consistently assess the situation to make any last-minute changes. Regardless of whether you achieve your primary objective, in the process of working toward it, your ultimate goal may shift. Therefore, it’s best to practice patience and keep an open mind. Slow and steady wins the race.