All companies set goals to move forward, but effective companies set SMART Goals.

What follows is an article by Launch413 advisor, Kate Putnum

What are SMART Goals and Why Should You Use Them?

Goal setting and planning are exercises that once completed are too often put on a shelf to be forgotten. In order to make planning and goal setting relevant, companies should constantly set SMART Goals.

Companies should begin by defining their mission, vision and values. Once these are determined, they will give context and guidance to setting relevant goals and explaining the why and how these goals will be met.

So let’s define relevant goals using the SMART acronym:

Specific: target a specific area for improvement

Measurable: quantify or define an indicator of success

Achievable: set a goal that can be met by a person or group to whom it is assigned

Relevant: determine the results that can be expected given available resources

Time-bound: establish a timeline of the expected progress towards accomplishing the goal, reinforced with feedback along the way

Other people use other words to define relevant goals such as strategic, motivating, assignable, action-oriented, ambitious, aligned with overarching goal, agreed-upon, realistic, resourced, reasonable, trackable, time based, time/cost limited, testable. All of these are designed to encompass the intent of the goal toward a vision, the ability to tell if progress is being made, and the timeline for doing that.

Usually SMART goals are based on one overarching long term goal. Generally, long term goals should not be planned out more than 3 years, and often, plans should be more immediate. As an example, a short term goal might be to make the most of a six month learning program, with SMART goals to help you do that. An overarching goal might be to profitably triple revenue in three years. This overarching goal is generic, but sets the stage for more specific short-term SMART goals that will help achieve your long term goal. These short term goals might include product development, HR and staffing, marketing, sales administration, accounting, etc.

All companies set goals to move forward, but effective companies set SMART Goals. Let’s look at the difference:

Attracting more customers is a common goal for most companies.

A SMART Goal would be to attract X number of customers who will buy Y by reaching out to 3X prospects through weekly social media updates, 50 weekly phone solicitations, 4 customer referral requests per week, etc. You can measure that SMART goal and change it when needed.

Another common goal would be to hire staff to sell more.

A SMART Goal would be to hire one incremental customer -facing staff per year, who is or will be trained to sell Y.

A subset of that goal might include creating a training manual, documenting and updating an effective sales process by X date, learning to interview to find the skills you are looking for by Y date.

SMART Goals work by breaking a big task down into achievable tasks and by looking strategically at all aspects of the business that are needed to support the overarching goal. Having monthly and weekly goals and measuring your progress will also tell you if you are making progress or need to change what you are doing.

Another way to approach the creation of SMART goals is to visualize what three years from now looks like for you. Sometimes your personal goals inform your business goals. If you are a sole proprietor looking to be able to take a 6-week European vacation in three years, then you already have a clear profitability goal to meet that challenge, a staffing goal to allow you to be away for that long. Conversely, your business goals might read like an encyclopedia but your personal goals include family time. In that case, you have to decide how to reconcile your personal priorities with your business priorities.

So can you each think about your overarching 3 year goal and one detailed goal that will help you make progress on the 3 year goal?

About Kate Putnam

Besides advising clients of Launch413, Kate is a recovering CEO, mentor, investor, and consultant who works with startups and small businesses. She has taught entrepreneurs and small business owners and worked with them to develop their plans and measure their progress. She recognizes that accountability plays a big part in moving a company forward. Her expertise lies in B2B but she has also worked with companies in the B2C space. She lives and moves around a lot in Massachusetts. You can learn more at or