This morning as I was scanning my FB feed, I noticed a question posed to a group. “How do you ensure you are being productive and not just busy?” It’s a question I ask my coaching clients almost daily.
I was intrigued to see how many responses indicated that busyness was filling coaches’ businesses, preventing them from really moving their business forward in a consistent way. I get it, in the beginning you have to wear multiple hats and do all of the things.
But the questions that beg to be asked are:
1. Will this task move my business forward?
2. What ROI will be realized if I take this action?
Oftentimes new business owners confuse busyness with productivity because it creates a sense of action taking. Over the years, I have found that when I am doing “busy” work it’s because I am lacking clarity in the tasks I should be focusing on.
I don’t know about you, but I can be the queen of procrastination when I don’t have clarity. Clarity is the cornerstone to growing your business in a consistent manner. That’s why I like to use SMART goals when I create my annual and quarterly business plans.
In case you haven’t used SMART goals in your business yet, let me give you a quick rundown of what makes SMART goals so impactful as a business growth tool:
To make sure your goals are clear and reachable, each one should be:
- Specific (simple, sensible, significant).
- Measurable (meaningful, motivating).
- Achievable (agreed, attainable).
- Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based).
- Time bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive).
Let’s look at each faces of SMART goals more closely:
The more clear, simplified and specific you can make your goals the higher your chances are to achieve it. It is easy to lose motivation when you don’t have a clear path forward. You can help gain clarity by asking yourself these questions:
- What do I want to accomplish?
- Why is this goal important?
- Who do I need on my team to help me?
- What resources do I need?
- What challenges are holding me back?
Example: Reduce sales team turnover by 15%.
Setting benchmarks to measure progress is another way to stay motivated. Breaking big projects into bite sized pieces will help you stay focused and meet deadlines. Excitement builds as you get closer to seeing your goal realized. Questions that can help you measure your goal might include:
- How much?
- How many?
- How will I know when it’s accomplished?
Example: Reduce sales team turnover by 15% by the end of 2nd quarter.
You need to set realistic expectations that are attainable.You need to make your goal big enough that it makes you feel uncomfortable and will stretch you, however, you need to make sure it is something that you can achieve. As a rule of thumb, you might ask yourself questions like:
- How can I accomplish this goal?
- How realistic is this goal, based on other factors like experience, training, skillset, finances?
Example: Reduce sales team turnover by 15% by the end of 2nd quarter by increasing training and offering incentives for surpassing quotas.
Relevance helps you determine if this goal really matters to you. It allows you to see if you are in alignment with your values and other overarching goals in your business. A relevant goal can answer “yes” to questions like:
- Does this seem worthwhile?
- Is this the right time?
- Does this match our vision/mission?
- Am I the right person to spearhead this goal?
- Is it applicable to the current socio-economic environment?
Example: Reduce sales team turnover by 15% by the end of 2nd quarter by increasing training and offering incentives for surpassing quotas by getting team input for a meaningful reward.
- Time Bound
Goals need to have target dates so you have a deadline to work towards. This step in the goal setting process will prevent everyday tasks from taking priority over longer-term goals. Time-bound goals will answer these questions:
- When does the project/goal need to be completed?
- What can I do six months from now?
- What can I do six weeks from now
- What can I do today?
Example: Reduce sales team turnover by 15% by the end of 2nd quarter by increasing training and offering incentives for surpassing quotas by getting team input for a meaningful reward each quarter and determining a company wide structure if we hit all metrics.
For a goal to be effective it should be evaluated to be sure it is still worth completing. As you go through the process, if the answers to the questions you’re asking don’t line up, it may serve you well to pivot or abandon the goal with a more relevant goal.
To keep the team on track, it is a worthwhile exercise to review progress and make sure everyone is on track to complete their portion in the established timeline. While SMARTer goals are intended to keep the project moving forward, a review may indicate the necessity to revisit deadlines and make revisions along the way.
SMARTer goals are effective. They help provide clarity, focus and motivation to keep you on track to achieving your goals because they help you define your objectives and simplify the process by breaking bigger goals into manageable pieces. They can be used by any one and everyone in your business.
If you’re plagued by feeling busy but not getting the results you want in your business, give SMARTer goals a try. Asking curious questions about your ‘why’ and the results you want to achieve can help you weed out unnecessary tasks and replace them with actions that will provide better outcomes and keep you on target for scaling your business and hitting your financial goals.