Business Goals Questions to Develop SMART Goals

smart goals questions - business goals

In the small business world, everything you and your business take or every action you take is about accomplishing something as your business goals.

Are you a business owner or an entrepreneur who manages your enterprise without goals? A small business without proper objectives is like a man lost in the woods.

Here I will discuss some important questions that will help you set business goals.

đź“– Key takeaways

  • Without the right goals, you and your team may work randomly without a sense of what you are working towards.
  • Goals will help you prioritize tasks and decisions and provide a way to measure progress and success. They will give you a benchmark to track growth and identify areas for improvement.
  • When you set your business goals, you must look at them from different perspectives. So, you must ask some important questions if you want to set SMART goals.

Why is it Important to Set Goals?

Alice in Wonderland - Where You are Going

Goals are important for both our business and personal life. It is because business and personal goals move us forward toward achieving our ultimate dream.

Related: How to Achieve Personal and Business Goals

I know that you are practicing the business planning process, and one important part of this process is setting business goals.

Also, when you create your strategic plan, it’s important to include strategic goals that later will be translated into operative or tactical goals.

Incorporating leadership development into the business planning process is also crucial because it involves coaching and guiding individuals and teams to set and follow significant goals, a key aspect of effective leadership.

Before You Start Developing Your Business Goals…

before start with goals

1. How can I be objective in setting up my business goals?

Remember that you must be objective when it comes to your business goals. Don’t rely your goals on intuition or gut feeling. You must make informed decisions based on real data.

Think about the following questions to ask:

  • What are the results from the past? Why have I achieved, and why haven’t I achieved my goals from the past?
  • Is there something that was not accomplished last year, and why?
  • What do I need to improve in the goal-setting process learned from the previous two answers?
  • Are there some mistakes I made last year that must be escaped the following year?
  • What are the biggest reasons for mistakes and problems in my business? Can I eliminate them, and how?
  • What’s going on in the industry where my business operates?
  • What are the industry averages in the last several years?
  • What is the quantity limit of the market?
  • Is the quality of my offer in line with the market’s needs?
  • Where is my business now regarding customers, sales, revenue, and profit?

If you are serious about your goals, drop the conditions. Go directly to your goal. Be your goal! Conditions often disguise strategies for escaping accountability. Why not just take charge and create the experience you are looking for?

– Eric Allenbaugh

2. What is the purpose of my business?

Before setting any goals, it’s important to understand the purpose of your business.

This will help guide your goal-setting process and ensure that your objectives align with your overall mission.

Remember that a purpose is different from a mission statement or vision statement, even though all concepts are somehow related. The mission statement outlines the company’s fundamental purpose. On the other hand, the vision statement articulates the company’s ambitions and future path. So, the purpose is a fundamental concept that underlies the mission and vision statements.

3. Who are my target customers?

Second, you must know who you want to reach with your offerings. So, you must first identify who your ideal customer is and what their needs and preferences are. This will help you adjust your goals to meet their specific requirements.

4. What sets me apart from my competitors?

In order to stand out in a market, you need to know what that “something” is that makes you really unique.

So, you must identify your competitive advantage and use it to set up your goals. This will help you focus on what sets you apart and how to leverage it to succeed.

5. What are my strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats?

SWOT analysis - 4 steps

Also, it will be of great help if you conduct a SWOT analysis before you proceed with goals development.

Knowing your own strengths and weaknesses is essential for setting goals you can achieve. Be honest with yourself about what you excel at and where you may need improvement.

Also, do not underestimate the importance of the external environment and the possible opportunities and threats it will bring. This will allow you to set realistic goals that utilize your strengths while addressing any areas of weakness.

6. What resources do I have available?

Consider the resources at your disposal when setting business goals. This includes financial, personnel, technology, and any other assets that can contribute to achieving your objectives.

Understanding what you have available will help you ensure that your goals are attainable.

Business Leaders Start Goal Setting With the Finish Line – Strategic Business Objectives

start with the finish line

As a business owner, initiating the goal-setting process begins with defining strategic business objectives that align with your vision for a successful enterprise.

You can’t start setting business goals if you don’t know what you want to achieve in the future. You must know where you want your company to be. So, strategic goals, or long-term goals based on your long-term vision, must be your starting point.

Here are questions to ask in this part of setting up your business goals:

  1. Where do I want my company to be regarding customers, sales, revenue, and profit after five years from today? What is my long-term goal?
  2. What are my targets for the next five years?
  3. What will happen in the future?
  4. What are the trends in my industry, market, or related business environment?
  5. What type of changes would I like to see within my company in the next five years?
  6. What type of changes would I like to see outside my company in the next five years? Is it possible, and how much?

How to Create SMART Goals?

SMART goals

As you can see from the previous section and questions, you have the basic framework for your business goals.

Setting up SMART goals for the coming year is one of the biggest motivators for everyone, so it is also for you.

As you probably know, SMART goals is a helpful framework to set goals that are:

  • Specific,
  • Measurable,
  • Achievable,
  • Realistic and
  • Time bound.

If you have specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-limited goals, you will be on the right way to running your own business.

How do you ensure your goals are specific?

Specific goals are crucial for success as they provide clear direction and focus. To ensure your business goals are specific, make sure they answer the following questions:

  1. What exactly do you want to accomplish?
  2. Why is this goal important for your business?
  3. When do you want to achieve this goal?

By answering these questions, your goals will become more specific and actionable, making tracking and achieving them easier.

Start with your vision and where you see your company at the end of the year. Do you want to introduce new products or services, increase your profitability, improve quality, and so on? Make a list of what you want to achieve.

The next question will increase my level of commitment to the goals I want to achieve. Answering this question will explain why you need to achieve this goal.

For example, if your goal is to increase profitability, it is not a specific goal. Yes, it responds to the “what” question but doesn’t give any other specificity.

On the other hand, if you say that your goal is to increase profitability by 20% so that you can invest more money in new product research and development, it becomes more specific because it contains “what” and “why.” This “why” is important because it gives you a higher purpose for your specific goal.

How do you ensure your goal is measurable?

measurable goals

The next important thing you must look at is the metrics, or how you will measuring progress towards your goals.

So, here you must respond to the following questions:

  1. What data or metrics will you use to track progress toward your goals?
  2. How often will you review and assess your progress toward your goal?
  3. Are there any potential obstacles that could hinder your goal achievement?
  4. What can you do if something goes wrong?

For example, we already have integrated a measure that will tell us whether we achieve success with the specific goal. It is an increase of 20%.

The second question concerns regular review and assessment of goal progress. This is an important question because it will help you stay on track and make necessary changes.

The third question will add additional dimensions to your goals. For example, increase profitability for 20% through cutting costs by 15%, increase marketing budget by 10%. In this case, we are covering possible obstacles and ensuring they are included in our goal.

How do you ensure your goal is achievable?

Also, you must ensure that your goal is attainable by setting a specific target that is within your possibilities to reach. We all want to double our profitability, but is it something that we can achieve with the current resources, operations, and capacity?

So, ask the following questions here:

  1. Are your goals feasible within a specific timeframe?
  2. Can you break down larger goals into smaller ones?

If I can see that we have increased profitability between 11% and 15% in the past, I can say that 20% is feasible for the same period as analyzed data from the past.

Also, now I can improve my goal so that it will be:

  • Increase profitability by 20% by:
    • Cutting costs by 10%, first by analyzing the cost structure, defining and removing areas with the highest costs and the smallest return on investments, and
    • Increase the marketing budget by 10% for paid online campaigns and give more priority to content marketing.

Can you see the difference now from where we started? Now, our goal has more details, and we can easily see what we must do.

How do you ensure your goals are realistic?

To ensure a realistic goal, you must answer the following question: Do I have the time, money, and support to reach my goal?

If you don’t have enough time, money, and support, you must consider adjusting your goals or finding ways to get them before you start working on the implementation.

Setting unrealistic goals can lead you to disappointment if they are not met. So, you must consider external factors such as market conditions and competition when you try to check the feasibility of your goals.

How do you ensure your goals are time-bound?

time-bound goals

Setting a time limit for your goals is important in order to keep yourself and your team members accountable and motivated toward achieving success.

The questions you must respond to here are the following:

  1. Do you have a deadline for your goals?
  2. Can you easily create a timeline with the milestones for achieving your goals?
  3. Do you have an action plan outlining the steps to achieve your desired outcomes?

So, now our goal for increasing profitability will be:

  • Increase profitability by 20% next year compared with current year by:
    • Cutting costs by 10%, first by analyzing the cost structure until the end of January, defining and removing areas with the highest costs and the smallest return of investments until the end of March, and
    • Increase the marketing budget by 10% annually for paid online campaigns and give more priority to content marketing.

Related: 7 Steps Framework to Achieve All Your Business Goals

Define Action Steps for Each Business Goal

Now that you know how your business will look at the end of next year, start thinking about what you must do to achieve these desired achievements.

For example, because I want to improve the quality of my products to satisfy my customers fully, I will need to research my current and potential customers, analyze my current products, develop improvement projects, and implement improvement projects.

So, try answering the following questions to define action steps:

  1. What actions must I take to accomplish each of the defined goals?
  2. What is the budget, and from where will it be allocated for each action step?
  3. Who will be responsible for the implementation of each action step?
  4. What will be the milestones for each action step?
  5. What will be the timelines?
  6. What will be each action step’s key performance indicators (KPIs)? How will you measure success?

It is important to establish clear metrics and responsibilities for measuring the success of your goals. For example, based on goals, you can use measures like revenue growth, customer satisfaction ratings, or any other key performance indicators relevant to your organization. With specific measurements in place, you can track your progress and adjust the course if necessary.

After reflecting on all these questions, try to draw connections between them, look for patterns, and ensure that everyone has a clear understanding of your business goals.