8 SMART Goal Examples to Set Your Business Up for Success

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Peter Shallard
CEO | Commit Action |

Entrepreneurship is a wild rollercoaster ride full of twists and turns that either makes you want to throw your hands up in joy or grip your seat hoping you make it through the next loop.

But keeping your sights locked on the right goals acts like a trusted GPS to guide you through the chaos ahead.

SMART goals are your map to navigating the entrepreneurial thrill ride without spinning out of control. They transform your vague hopes into crystal clear objectives that push your limits while keeping your wheels on track.

SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. By following these criteria, you can shift from dreaming big to executing with precision.

Let's explore 8 real-world SMART goal examples to inspire your own business ambitions and focus your efforts on the results that matter most. 

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1. Increase Your Network with Laser-Focused Relationship Building

Jennifer is an entrepreneur who recently started her own digital marketing agency after leaving her cushy corporate job last year.

However, as a solopreneur, she soon felt isolated and struggled to secure her first clients and partners. 

Rather than spray and pray with broad outreach efforts, she set herself the following SMART goal.

  • Jennifer decided to make connections with 10 new potential strategic partners and collaborators this quarter by attending networking events for the industry at least twice per month. 

  • Her aim was to collect business cards and have follow-up coffee meetings scheduled with each connection within 3 business days of meeting them. 

  • She’ll create a tracking spreadsheet after each event to monitor her outreach efforts. 

  • Through regular, meaningful touchpoints she aims to convert at least 5 of these new contacts into official partners contributing to projects and client referrals within the next 6 months.

By examining the specifics of Jennifer's goal against the SMART criteria, let’s see how she crafted an objective focused on expanding her network in an actionable, targeted way:

  • Specific: The number of new connections, networking cadence, follow-ups, and tracking methods are explicitly defined.

  • Measurable: Jennifer can track quantitative progress on new connections made and partners onboarded.    

  • Achievable: The volume of events and systematic approach are manageable alongside other entrepreneurial demands.    

  • Relevant: Network expansion is absolutely critical in Jennifer's first year flying solo.      

  • Time-bound: One quarter to establish connections and 6 months to convert partnerships means her efforts remain focused.

By applying the SMART criteria, Jennifer broke down a vague goal like ‘network more’ into a targeted plan of action with urgency. Each event and subsequent follow-up effort moves her closer to assembling a thriving ecosystem of partners without which an entrepreneur cannot succeed.

An accountability coach like Commit Action can further ensure that Jennifer stays on track with her SMART goals and gets her first set of clients and partners.

2. Improve Strategic Leadership Chops for Career Advancement   

smart goals examples for business.webpNick has piloted his B2B startup from a fledgling newcomer to a rapidly rising industry player. But he felt his technical chops and scrappy habits needed leveling up to steer the company through scale-up mode.

Rather than loosely declaring he should ‘develop leadership skills’, Nick set a SMART goal for himself:

  • He wanted to complete the company's highly selective emerging leaders training program by Q4 2023 and successfully lead the cross-functional initiatives of redesigning the onboarding process and launching an upsell strategy. 

  • He aims to increase new customer activation rates by 15% and drive over $250k in additional revenue through upsells by the end of 2023. 

  • This will enable Nick to demonstrate expanded leadership skills and tangible business impact on two mission-critical areas of growth. 

  • With this experience and contribution, he aims to be ready for a promotion to Vice President of Customer Success within the next 18 months.

Looking at the key elements of Nick's goal, it aligns with the SMART framework:

  • Specific: The training, projects, metrics, and timeline are explicitly defined.

  • Measurable: Nick targeted quantitative metrics around customer activation and revenue.    

  • Achievable: The goals are ambitious but doable given the company's growth trajectory.    

  • Relevant: It is directly aligned with Nick's leadership development and promotion goals.     

  • Time-bound: An 18-month timeline creates urgency and clarity on when he is ready for advancement.

With a sharp SMART goal, Nick avoided ambiguity about how to gain strategic skills or when he was ready for leadership. Now he can purposefully develop the experience needed to align with the company's growth and earn his next career level.

3. Get Feedback to Fuel an MVP That Truly Resonates

Amer is an entrepreneur who is eager to break out on his own, leveraging his machine-learning expertise to help businesses optimize e-commerce pricing.

However, he has only been dreaming about the idea without taking action so far. 

To gain momentum, Amer set himself the following SMART goal:

  • He wanted to launch a minimum viable product (MVP) for his AI-powered price optimization SaaS.

  • He aims to complete market research and prototyping this year. Then, he plans to launch the MVP by Q2 2024.

  • His goal is to secure 30 beta customers to rigorously test the MVP and provide feedback over 6 months. This will allow Amer to refine the product before conducting a full launch in 2025.

Let’s examine the key aspects of his goal to show how it aligns with the SMART framework:

  • Specific: The MVP launch timeline, beta testing numbers, and process are defined.

  • Measurable: 30 beta customers give clear testing volume metrics.    

  • Achievable: The testing phase prevents the prospect of a failed launch before product-market fit.    

  • Relevant: The feedback will refine the product-market fit for his target customer.    

  • Time-bound: The Q2 2024 launch provides urgency while 2025 allows time to integrate feedback.

With his SMART goal, Amer avoided building an MVP in isolation and risked creating a solution in search of a problem. Now he can validate that his AI pricing technology resonates with his audience before going for a full launch.

Furthermore, Commit Action’s science-backed productivity ritual can hold Amer accountable to his SMART goals ensuring that he takes action consistently without fail.

4. Dial in Profit Margins While Scaling Your Agency  

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Cynthia had built a successful agency delivering web development projects to SMBs. However, she felt her team’s capacity hitting a wall as their client roster kept growing. 

Rather than sacrifice quality or profitability, she set this SMART goal:

  • Cynthia wanted to improve overall project margins by 15% over the next quarter. 

  • To accomplish this, she will implement value-based pricing strategies on all new proposals to clients to better align project costs with the value delivered.

  • Additionally, Cynthia will closely track all project hours for her team on a weekly basis to identify opportunities for increased efficiency.

  • Finally, she will renegotiate contracts with existing vendors and freelancers to improve rates and terms.

When we break down the components of Cynthia's goal, you can see how it checks all the boxes of being SMART:

  • Specific: The goal clearly defines tactics like implementing value-based pricing, tracking project hours, and renegotiating vendor contracts to increase profit margins.

  • Measurable: The 15% profit margin increase provides a quantifiable metric to track progress.

  • Achievable: The adjustments required are feasible for Cynthia's agency to implement alongside current growth.

  • Relevant: Improving profitability through these tactics is pivotal as Cynthia scales her agency.

  • Time-bound: The tight quarterly timeline creates focus and urgency around improving margins.

With Cynthia’s clear focus guided by SMART criteria, she could grow her business sustainably without undervaluing her services or overextending her team. Now she has a framework to deliver high-quality work profitably.   

Read also: Learn how to set baby-step goals to achieve enormous wins.

5. Systematize Client Onboarding for Scalable Growth 

Sienna is the founder and CEO of a quickly growing marketing consulting agency. However, her business's ad hoc client onboarding process was slowing down her agency’s scaling.

To help streamline and systematize onboarding, Sienna set herself the following SMART goal:

So she set out this SMART goal:

  • Sienna decided to create a standardized client onboarding process by developing templatized service agreements, onboarding checklists, and project plan structures for her team to follow.

  • Her goal is to go from a signed contract to delivering initial value within 5 business days for 80% of new clients.

  • This will involve clearly documenting the required steps and resources needed to smoothly onboard each new project.

  • By implementing consistent onboarding processes and documentation, Sienna aims to remove bottlenecks to taking on new clients as her consulting business scales.

If we examine the way Sienna constructed her objective, it's clear she designed it to align with the SMART criteria:

  • Specific: The goal clearly defines creating standardized templates for client agreements, onboarding checklists, and project plans, with a timeline of 5 days from contract signing to delivering value.

  • Measurable: Sienna can track and quantify the percentage of new clients onboarded within the 5-day timeline to gauge progress.

  • Achievable: Though current processes are ad hoc, standardizing templates and workflows is feasible as a first step.

  • Relevant: With client onboarding being a major scaling obstacle, this goal is directly aligned with business priorities.

  • Time-bound: While ongoing improvement is needed long-term, the initial focus on standardizing will provide an immediate impact.

With a honed focus guided by the SMART framework, Sienna could hit the accelerator on landing and onboarding new clients without compromising quality. Now, she has a foundation for delivering high-quality service at scale.

6. Launch an MVP to Validate an Automation Idea

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Leo is a software developer who came up with an idea for a SaaS tool to automate social media scheduling. However, he became stuck in research mode without moving forward to execution.

To gain momentum on his idea, Leo set himself this SMART goal: 

  • Leo planned to launch a basic minimum viable product (MVP) of his social media automation app within 2 months. This MVP will have core scheduling functionality ready for beta testing by 30 customers.

  • His aim is to validate whether solid market demand exists for the app's core value proposition before investing further in full-scale product development.

  • The 2-month deadline will force Leo to shift from analysis paralysis into concrete action on testing his concept quickly without overinvesting upfront.

Looking under the hood at how Leo formulated his goal, we can see how she built in the core elements of the SMART framework:

  • Specific: The goal clearly defines the launch of a minimum viable product (MVP) with core scheduling features ready for beta testing within 2 months.

  • Measurable: Having 30 beta customers provides a clear metric to quantify market validation.

  • Achievable: A quick launch and testing phase is reasonable before investing in full product development.

  • Relevant: Validating market demand is the prudent next step rather than overbuilding features.

  • Time-bound: The 2-month deadline creates an urgency to get the MVP launched rather than remain in analysis paralysis.

By setting a SMART goal, Leo broke free of analysis paralysis and spurred action on testing his concept quickly without overinvesting upfront. Now he can validate needs before continuing development.

Commit Action can also help Leo plan his weekly goals and check in with him daily to ensure he’s making progress on his SMART goals.

Read also: Are you stuck in the feast/famine cycle of your business? We will tell you how to break the feast-famine cycle.

7. Start Delegating to Increase Your Leverage and Impact

Janet is the founder and CEO of a digital marketing agency that has been growing rapidly over the last few years. However, Janet was wearing too many hats in her agency which was hampering its growth.

To help address this and increase leverage, Janet set herself the following SMART goal: 

  • Janet wanted to delegate 3 tasks per week to qualified assistants starting in Q2 2023, after documenting standardized operating procedures (SOPs) for smoothly handing off responsibilities.

  • Her aim is to free up 10+ hours weekly through delegation, so she can focus her time on high-level strategy and increasing sales by 30% this year.

  • By gradually delegating tactical work, Janet will be able to increase her leverage and impact as the CEO of a rapidly growing company.

When we analyze the composition of Janet's goal, we can observe how she applied the SMART framework to make it targeted and actionable:

  • Specific: The goal clearly defines delegating 3 weekly tasks to assistants starting in Q2 2023, after first documenting SOPs for smooth handoffs.

  • Measurable: Janet can quantify the number of hours freed up weekly and track progress towards the 30% sales increase target.

  • Achievable: Gradually delegating 3 tasks per week is a sustainable and stepwise process.

  • Relevant: Delegation directly enables Janet's priority of growth by freeing up strategic time.

  • Time-bound: The Q2 2023 start prevents unnecessary delay and creates urgency.

With Janet’s clear SMART focus, she could start multiplying her impact by gradually handing off tactical work to assistants. Now she has a path to increase leverage and hyperfocus on a strategy to scale her business.

8. Make Space for Innovation by Scheduling Creativity

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Patrick is a consultant who runs a successful services firm. However, constant client work was crowding out Patrick's ability to innovate and develop new offerings.

To help make time for innovation, Patrick set himself this SMART goal:

  • Patrick decided to schedule 2-hour weekly innovation sessions every Friday morning to explore new service offerings starting next week.

  • The sessions will provide dedicated time to brainstorm ideas for expanding his consulting services portfolio.

  • By Q4 2023, Patrick aims to validate client demand and develop capabilities to launch at least 1 new offering contributing $40k in additional revenue to his business.

Zooming in on the finer details of Patrick's goal demonstrates how he adhered to the SMART framework when articulating his objective:

  • Specific: The goal defines scheduling 2-hour Friday morning innovation sessions weekly starting immediately, with the aim of launching 1+ new offerings by Q4 2023.

  • Measurable: Patrick can quantify new service revenue to track the impact toward the $40k target.

  • Achievable: Finding 2 hours weekly for innovation is reasonable alongside client demands.

  • Relevant: Patrick identified that constant client work blocks innovation, so this carves out essential time.

  • Time-bound: The Q4 2023 deadline drives urgency rather than delaying innovation indefinitely.

With Patrick’s laser focus thanks to SMART criteria, he could force himself to carve out dedicated time for innovation weekly. Now he has a channel for unlocking new sources of value to future-proof his business.

To ensure that Patrick carves out dedicated time for his SMART goals, he can enlist the help of an expert accountability coach like Commit Action and realize his dream much faster.

Bring Your SMART Goals to Life with Expert Accountability

By now the power of SMART goals is clear - focused objectives can accelerate your entrepreneurial growth exponentially. 

But goal-setting is just the starting line. 

Executing your plan consistently amidst the rollercoaster ride of entrepreneurship takes skillful time management, unbreaking focus, and expert accountability.

That's where Commit Action’s science-backed methodology comes in. 

Our certified coaches hold you accountable to your biggest goals, keeping you on track through weekly planning and daily check-ins. 

Our science-backed rituals further reinforce the motivation needed to systematically chip away at your most important priorities, equipping you with insights on how to structure your days for maximum productivity and progress.

With Commit Action, you don't just set audacious SMART goals - you realize them. Our customizable approach ensures the coaching fits seamlessly into your entrepreneurial lifestyle.

So, if you're ready to accelerate your success, explore how our 1-on-1 coaching can drive results and bring your SMART goals to reality. Sign up today to know more. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What is a SMART goal checklist?

A SMART goal checklist ensures your objectives are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound - following these criteria sets you up for success.

2. How long should a SMART goal last?

SMART goals should have a clearly defined time horizon, from 1 week for short-term milestones to 1-2 years for longer objectives, keeping the end date top of mind.

3. What are short SMART goals?

Short SMART goals have a tight time frame, like improving productivity through daily meditation within a 1-month span.

4. How do you write a simple SMART goal?

A simple SMART goal follows the criteria in a brief statement like "Exercise 3x per week for 45 mins by year-end to improve my health."

5. What is an example of a SMART goal for building relationships at work?

An example of this can be: Scheduling 1-on-1 meetings with 5 key cross-functional peers over the next month to improve collaboration.

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