Be SMART about it!

Everyone (or pretty much everyone in business) should have heard of SMART – the process of setting objectives that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results Orientated and Time Bound. It is a great way to tailor the objectives of the business to the departments and people within the business who are required to deliver them.

When we set out our objectives for the business or the people within a business, no one intentionally sets out on the journey to hitting an objective thinking it’s NOT going to go as planned. But this happens time and time again. When setting out objectives think carefully about the Achievability of them in the Time allowed. Think about available time, the level of ability of the people involved at the point of setting off and other things that may well adversely affect the achievability of the goal.

The problem often is that when setting goals or objectives minor (or even major) delays aren’t usually factored in. Because people tend to underestimate how long it will take to complete a task, along with any associated risks and unanticipated costs, they place themselves in last-minute, or worse, past-deadline scenarios. One thing that is often ignored, that could well allow more realistic timelines, is past experiences. If we draw into our thinking how long previous tasks of a similar nature it may well counterbalance the optimism of hitting a target in a shorter time.

Avoid subjectivity when laying out your plan – always be objective – look at data – historic and what you can glean about the future in market terms. Do consider how much time and effort similar tasks have required in the past? If the goal / task is completely new to you, do your research. Does your work mirror that of another firm?

By setting overly aggressive Specific objectives we set ourselves up for failure and failure demotivates. Far better to take a really balanced view between optimism and realism which should then deliver objectives that are achievable.

But objectives must be Compatible with where you want your business to be. But realism must come into that thinking too if disappointment for your company is to be avoided. If you set your business a goal of, say, increasing profits by 35% in the next year you must be able to put together and agree the methodology that is capable of achieving that. For example, if you are a supplier to major retail businesses and you set such an objective you would need to ensure that the goals set for your top 10 customers, that probably account for 80% of your business, would, if achieved, deliver part of that profitability increase and probably that the goals set for your purchasing department, who are responsible for securing the best price from suppliers, also adds a significant amount from their work with suppliers. In both cases good management ensures that the people who are responsible for these parts of the business buy into these goals and feel that they are deliverable in the Time allowed and that the goals are Action orientated.

Then, as a business owner you have a plan – just like a jigsaw the pieces of your plan must all come together to make the whole piece. We would advocate using our BOMM sheet to make life easier when thinking about and setting objectives for your teams.

The challenge for any business owner is to balance your optimism (which is absolutely essential) with realism. Adding some creativity into your thinking about the future and combining it with objectivity will provide you with goals that move your business forward significantly yet are achievable. Using the SMART process will work alongside this thinking.

If you need help being SMARTer about business, get in touch with Tinderbox at or call us on 0116 232 5231.

Also have a look at our online learning platform provided by our sister company where you can find useful business tools including our BOMM sheet to help you with the day to day running of your business.

You can click here to access The Box Academy and see for yourself, you can join for free and if you like what you see can join as a full member giving your people access to a huge amount of learning and development material.

The Tinderbox Team