S.M.A.R.T. Goals for Your Business in the New Year

With one year in the books and a new one just getting started, people everywhere are resolving to improve their lives. Whether these goals are in fitness, finance, business, or romance, the unfortunate reality is, within a few months, so many of these resolutions will be forgotten. It’s not that people are lazy or uncommitted. The simple truth is most New Year’s resolutions don’t work out for one simple reason—they aren’t S.M.A.R.T.

S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym that stands for “Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.” In life, as in business, the best goals are clearly outlined (“specific”) and realistic (“achievable”). They’re good for your business’s growth, but still within your wheelhouse (“relevant”), with tangible checks in place to make sure they’re actually accomplished (“measurable” and “time-bound”).

If you’ve made a resolution to grow your business this year, why not set these three S.M.A.R.T. goals, and take action today?

Improve your public image with new testimonials.

When someone is thinking about using your services, they’re most definitely going to want to see how you’ve treated past clients. This means queuing up a search engine and seeking out recent customer reviews. One way to stay ahead of the curve is by getting testimonials from satisfied customers. This is also a certified S.M.A.R.T. way to improve public perception of your business.

Specific: Whether you’re posting them to your website or social media, or even including them in physical documents like brochures and mailers. Some customer reviews are better than others, so don’t be afraid to ask a lot of people—if you’ve got more than you need, you can afford to be picky when it comes time to share.

Measurable: You’ll clearly know whether or not you’ve succeeded, based on how many usable testimonials you wind up with. To make sure to keep yourself motivated, set a minimum number of customers to ask each month. Hold yourself to that number.

Achievable: Solicit twice as many testimonials as you’ll need, because not every customer will deliver. But, while you want to have a wide range of testimonials to choose from, you’ll really only need a handful of glowing reviews to make your point.

Relevant: Testimonials will signify to potential customers that you’re someone worth buying from, but make sure you ask your past customers to be specific. Though a 5-star review never hurts, many prospects need greater social proof than that. By including specific details about their experiences with you—such as how responsive you were to questions, or how often you checked in with them—past customers are signaling to future ones that you’re someone who can be trusted. And while you can’t make someone write a glowing testimonial, you can always offer some gentle encouragement. Lead by thanking the customer for their business, then assure them you’re available if they need anything. They’ll be more likely to help you out in return.

Time-Bound: The deadline is whatever you make it. If you don’t want to wait until the year’s end to have a “win” to celebrate, consider setting quarterly goals—say, 10 new testimonials to choose from.

Turn your prospect pool into more customers.

Depending on the size of your sphere, the numbers will vary here, but you’re only going to turn prospects into customers if you’re truly committed. But if you set a realistic, measurable goal and are willing to put in the work, your network will continue to grow.

Specific: Start by making a list of prospects, and then figure out what percentage of that list would realistically be interested in your services this year. If you need help figuring out how many leads you need to hit your goals, you can download our leads calculator for free.

Measurable: Spend 1-2 hours each day contacting prospects. Make calls, send messages on social media, or meet for coffee. Keep track of how many new customers this yields you each quarter.

Achievable: Sure, it would be nice to double (or triple) your customer list every year, but that isn’t always feasible. Be ambitious, but also be realistic—anticipate growth based on your industry, as well as your success in recent years.

Relevant: Your ability to attract new customers is the difference between your business growing or remaining stagnant. While not every call will result in a sale, keeping in touch with a prospect can lead to success down the line—statistics show that it could take 7-10 phone calls to close a sale.

Time-Bound: It’s still early in the year, but remember that it takes time to build relationships with potential customers. Start making those calls today!

Establish yourself as a thought leader by blogging.

If you don’t already have a blog for your business, you’ll probably want to make that a top priority. Blogging regularly about topics relevant to your audience will help establish you as a trusted authority, while giving customers another reason to check in on your website. But once you’ve got a blog set up, how do you make it a cornerstone of your marketing plan? By getting S.M.A.R.T. about it, of course!

Specific: You don’t necessarily have to blog every day, but, if you’re serious about being seen as a thought leader, you’ll need to build up a collection of high quality posts.

Measurable: Start out by aiming for at least one new blog post every week. Spend an additional 1-2 hours each week brainstorming new topics, and another couple hours promoting your posts via email and social media.

Achievable: Don’t commit to writing two blog posts per week if you don’t have the time to make that happen. On the other hand, giving yourself six months to post a handful of times probably won’t light a fire under you. Try to find the right balance.

Relevant: Blogging is a great way to build trust among readers, who will ideally be current or future customers. You’re also able to communicate with your audience in as little or as many words as it takes, which isn’t the case with many other kinds of communication. Better still, blogging is one of the best methods for establishing yourself as a resource in your community. Try posting about some upcoming local events or other topics relevant to people in your area. When you do this, you’ll help increase your search engine ranking—making it more likely that your business will show up sooner when people are looking for the services you provide.

Time-Bound: By blogging just once a week, you’ll build up 52 pieces of content in 12 months’ time. If you’re consistently putting out information that’s useful to potential customers, you’ll start to see more leads in no time.

So, there you have it! Rather than make a vague resolution to “grow your business” this year, you’ve now got three tangible goals that will put you well on your way to seeing measurable results. All you need to do is work hard and be S.M.A.R.T.

Written by Kevin McElvaney

Zealous wordie and reluctant writer of short bios.