SMART Goals: How To Set Them & Crush Them

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Have you ever sat down and thought about what happened to all those goals that you set in college, work, or life.

Why did they fail?

Was there something that you could have done to make them better?

I am sure that there are countless things and reasons that you can summon. But, have you ever pondered whether your goal setting is efficient or not. If you are setting the wrong goals then is it any wonder that you do not achieve them.

No, I am not going to suggest some magical potion that will solve all your problems. Rather, I will point towards a method which has been in use for a long time: setting SMART goals.

SMART is a mnemonic for Smart, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. To explain it, we will take the example of setting a goal for a lemonade stand business. The stand has been installed and is in the startup stage of its lifecycle.


This can be aided by 4 W’s: Who, What, Where, and When. For example, look at the following goal

The stand will be open for business all the time and try to achieve its targets.

There are some inherent flaws with this goal. It does not cover the 4Ws and chances are that its implementation will be awful, as no one will know for sure what to do. Now, look at the following example:

The stand will be open at xyz area, London for 12 hours; the first shift will be from 7am-1pm – covered by John, whereas Murphy will cover the second shift from 1pm-7pm.

It is very clear that this goal is more specific, as it covers the aforementioned criteria. The chances of any misunderstandings are greatly reduced by filling in all the blanks.


Goals have to be measureable; otherwise there is no way that anyone will be able to gauge performance. It will help if you ask the question: How many? In our example, to make the above goal measurable the following line can be added:

John and Murphy will sell 80 lemonades a day, 40 each, trying to achieve a weekly target of 560 lemonades, working all 7 days.


The next step is to ascertain whether you have the abilities and the skills to achieve the goal. In our example is it actually possible to sell 80 lemonades a day. If it is the winter season, then obviously this will have to be scaled down. Other factors to be considered include whether John and Murphy have the time to cover 6 hour shifts? Will 7-days a week be possible? All employees need a break and there are various other factors involved as well. This does not mean that you cannot set hard goals, but there has to be a path to achieve them as well.


Your goals have to be relevant to your overall objectives. If they are not relevant, then chances are you will abandon the goal after some initial effort. In our case, why did you establish the lemonade stand in the first place? If it was to generate funds and create awareness about a local charity, then it will fulfill its purpose; if it is not conflicting with another major goal. However, if you are doing it to collect enough money to buy a Porsche in the fall, then we are afraid it is not relevant, as a lemonade stand may not be able to generate enough to buy an expensive car.


Everything in business has to be time-bound. Without the limitation of time there can be no value. However, results can be drastic if the time constraints are made unrealistic, as they have a bad effect on team morale. Our goal from the example is already accounting for time, as the target is to sell 560 lemonades in a week, working set hours and 7 days a week.

Achievable and Relevant versus Progressive

Like all things in life, this model is not perfect. The main things to consider are the limitations which being realistic and relevant, place on your venture. It tends to promote the use of current set of skills instead of updating the overall skill set. This can result in a situation where the company becomes stagnant and the chances of becoming obsolete, in case of a drastic change in circumstances is increased. There are various case studies and other resources related to this on Groupon, which can help in getting a deeper understanding about it. Regardless, it is undeniable that a proactive approach will benefit the company more than being reactive. Hence, a balance has to be struck between achievable goals and high objectives.

Successful Entrepreneurship needs SMART Steps.

All in all, this is a good basic model which can help beginners; however, it has to be modified according to the needs of your overall business strategy. We deliberately took an easy example, as going for complex businesses would have made it specific, lengthy, and counterproductive. It will help you in setting better goals and make your life a lot easier in planning successful ventures.


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