SMART Business Goal Setting

Helpful Tips to Consider in Working Towards Your 2022 Business Goals

As we head into the new year, now is the time to fine tune your 2022 business goals. There are many strategies to consider to help you work towards achieving your goals. Utilizing methods such as the SMART will help you stay on track, but first, let’s dive into where goal setting began.

Goal Setting Origins

Bruce Miller, CEO and founder of Financial Resources Group likes to quote Lewis Carroll, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” Please pause for a second or two to think about that. Said another way, “If you don’t have goals, your strategy can be anything and you’ll find success in reaching your non-goals.” So, let’s talk about goal setting.  

Google the topic and you’ll find over a billion results. We surely don’t lack information and tools to help plan.  At this point some might be thinking, I have a strong set of goals I look at often and seek feedback to keep myself on track, or you might think where do I start?  Congratulations to the first group, but this blog is mostly for those that fall into the section group.

Let’s start at the beginning. Where did goal setting itself even start?  For this you can thank the father of modern goal setting, Dr. Edwin Locke, whose 1968 paper, “Towards a Theory of Task Motivation and Incentives” focused on workplace goal setting.  Dr. Locke found that employees were motivated more by personal set goals and actionable feedback to help them reach those goals.  Based on Locke’s research, we need two key things for goal setting exercises to work.  First, we need them to be small, achievable and measurable over time and secondly, we need to set specific and clear outcomes.

The SMART Method

The SMART method of goal setting is the most common goal setting model used today.  And I’m guessing most of you have heard of some of its parts, just not the whole method.  Here George T. Doran, in 1981, went further with Locke’s ideas by stating goals should be:

  • Specific – each goal should be specific and focused.  You can indeed have multiple goals, but please make each one clear – I’m guessing we have all heard this one.
  • Measurable – each of your goals should have clearly defined metrics so they can be measured.  You’ll find it helpful to be able to measure both your progress and the end goal. Again, I’m guessing we have all heard this one too.
  • Achievable – keep your goals achievable so that you don’t lose your motivation.  I appreciate a stretch goal, but also remember that you can always add to your goal next year or adjust the target upward during a good year.  Just don’t set yourself up to fail.
  • Relevant – this is where your business consultant can really help. There’s no point in pursuing a goal that doesn’t add value to you plan.   Here I’ll also add that I find having goals for both your business practice and your personal life helpful.
  • Time-bound – although most people set goals at year’s end for the next calendar year, also keep in mind this works nicely with the achievable step.  Please make sure to set yourself realistic deadlines for each goal as that helps to keep you focused and motivated.

Working Towards Your Goals

Now that we have a SMART script to follow, how do we begin filling in the actual goals?  The first step is straightforward, where do you want your business and personal life to be a year from now?  That target can include AUM, revenue, net new assets (NNA), number of clients, number of new clients as quarterly or year end goals.  It can also include smaller steps or goal that would equal your target, to help keep you on track.  For examples, client touches (phone, electronic, newsletters, letters, etc.), client appreciation events and / or seminars, client acquisition (cleaning up and clearly branding yourself through your web presence [website and social media] and increasing your SEO), using gated content, using lead generation resources (Google ads, Facebook ads, niche marketing, etc.). Although straightforward, you may find it quite helpful to engage your business consultant with this first step as they would be able to be both a sounding board and a source for best practices.

Backwards Goal Setting

Even with help, organizing these goals or parts of these might be hard for some people.  Some might think about a personal target, like a dream vacation, new car or starting a family, and struggle with business goals. Others may think the opposite and focus on their business goals, but don’t control their work / life balance and need help.  Some may also struggle with the idea of goal setting itself.  For this last group I’d offer two things to think about.  First, what would you regret most next year if it didn’t get done and focus on working towards this goal.  Second, think about a goal you’d like to accomplish and consider working backwards to get there.

Backwards goal setting is a great trick to use when you’re stuck.  It’s about switching your perspective around by starting with your ultimate end goal.  For example, using the SMART process you think about your first step, then your second step and third and so on.  Backward goal setting is the opposite where you start your focus on the end target and then work your way backwards.


However you choose to get to your goals, the setup and process is a good use of your time.  We all want to be on the right road and knowing where you are going will get you to a desired location.

For assistance in setting your business goals for the new year, please contact your dedicated Director of Business Consulting.

Chris Thompson, Partner & Director of Business Consulting

Chris Thompson, Partner & Director of Business Consulting

We all want to be on the right road and knowing where you are going will get you to a desired location.

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