Business owners want their business to thrive and make a lot of money. No surprise there. But not every business takes the time to map out how they’re going to get there. This is where setting goals comes in.


Use the SMART model for establishing specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely business goals.

Be SMART About Your Goals

SMART is a popular model for setting business goals. The idea is to make your goals:

  1. Specific
  2. Measurable
  3. Achievable
  4. Relevant 
  5. Timely

Make it Real

Making your goals realistic may be the single most important element in accomplishing them. If you set unreachable goals, you’ll fail to meet them and that can be depressing.

Even worse, since you’ll be communicating your business goals to all of your employees, failing to meet goals that weren’t realistic in the first place can crush morale.

Here are some factors to consider in setting realistic goals:

  • Do you have the necessary resources to meet your goals? Resources include having enough staff, the necessary equipment, funding and expertise.
  • Is there anything going on economically or politically that could thwart your ability to meet your goals?
  • Is the size of the market for your product or service big enough to support your goals?

Put a Number On It

Quantifying business goals is crucial. In addition to stating the “what” and “how” for each goal, you’ll want to define “how much” and “by when.”

Also, include how you’re going to measure the goal. For example, instead of saying, “My goal is growth,” you might say something like this: “My business will increase profits by 10% over the next two quarters by marketing new products.

Including numbers in your business goals gives you a way to measure your progress. It can also be a good reality check.

If you get a gnawing feeling in your gut after you quantify your goal, it’s probably not realistic.

Examples of Business Goals

Some additional examples of goals for business are:

  • We will improve internal tech support by hiring three new specialists over the next two months. 
  • Beginning in June of this year, we will generate a $10,000 a month increase in revenue by subletting the work space that we’re not using.
  • We will lower our costs by 15% annually by switching to a different supplier when the contract with our current supplier ends in March.
  • We will raise awareness about our business this calendar year by partnering with related businesses in our community and joining the chamber of commerce.
  • We will improve customer service by the end of this quarter by training front-line employees in best practices and asking our customers for feedback via email.

Keep Your Eye on the Prize

One often overlooked component of setting goals is rewarding your employees and yourself when they’re met. You might be tempted to throw a celebratory party. A nice idea, but keep it small and simple. Hand out bonus checks while you’re celebrating. Most employees will appreciate cash a lot more than a party.

Don’t forget to reward yourself. Take that long overdue weekend getaway trip or buy that new home stereo system you’ve been coveting. Note: Buying a new copy machine for the office or upgrading everyone’s software are not rewards. Things like that are the normal cost of doing business and should be part of your business’s budget.

The Long and Short of It

It’s helpful to divide business goals into long- and short-term. You can define what “long” and “short” means to you. But generally, a long-term goal is one you want to achieve within a number of years. Short-term goals are those you want to achieve in a year or less.