Maximizing Efficiency with SMART Operations Goals

Achieving Success with SMART Operations Goals

It’s the time of year when the leaves are starting to turn, I am starting to spend more and more time at kid’s fall sports activities and we are inching on the last 100 days of the year. It’s also when I start thinking about SMART Operations goals for the following year.

This is the time when even if your business isn’t on the typical quarterly or yearly planning system, you start to think about the next year in terms of how you want to accomplish. If not professionally, personally.

Is this how your head feels this time of year? Too many sticky notes with reminders? Too many tabs open and your processor is starting to overheat?

Picture of messy un-focused person's desk

For those of us with small businesses, now is the time to take stock of where we are to reflect on the past year and narrow in on how to move our business forward next year.

2023 has been a difficult year for some and has really outlined the importance of marketing and sales and being able to pivot your business to your target clients’ needs. Granted, this is not an official study, but definitely what I’ve been hearing in the many conversations I’ve been having.

So I am deep diving into goals today, not only for those that need it, but also to remind myself about the importance of SMART goals, why the framework exists, and how it helps small businesses.

What are SMART operations goals?

SMART operations goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound objectives that organizations set to improve their operational performance. These goals help businesses streamline their processes, reduce costs, increase productivity, and skyrocket customer satisfaction.

For those of you who haven’t been in the business world for long, or dozed off during that business class in college, SMART goals are a way of creating goals that help organizations create solid goals for their organization that can be understood, measured, and assessed quickly.

SMART is an acronym meaning Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

Before going into what each of these means, let’s talk a little bit about what it means to set goals in your business, and how even though each of us works differently, having a practice to create visible goals or “landmarks” in your business is beneficial, even if you aren’t a specifically “goal-oriented person.

Setting goals helps to give clear direction and vision for the company and its employees

As a systems person myself, I have found a lot more luck in establishing systems and habits in my business, than having a goal in mind and trying to figure out how to reach that goal day in and out. However, I was going about the goal-setting business in the wrong way before. Goals should be the end point of your systems and habits, not an island alone in the ocean that you are trying to get to on a boat without a paddle. (Yes, I did make up that example by myself, thank you).

Goals (SMART Operations Goals) help provide the endpoint and help establish the roadmap for where you want your business to go. Systems, projects, and habits are the vehicles that drive the journey toward that goal.

We will talk more about establishing the roadmaps… I mean systems based on the goals later, but actually identifying WHAT you want to do, is the first step. (I mean, you aren’t going to hop on a plane and not know where it’s going, are you?)

What does S.M.A.R.T. stand for?

SMART goals on my iPad

S is for “Specific”

Specific means precise. I am someone who thrives on definitions. As someone who knows a lot of words can be ambiguous I’m always clarifying what my clients (or my husband) say to make sure I understand EXACTLY what they are talking about. This is a great example of the need to be specific in your SMART goals so everyone can understand them.

For example… saying that you want to increase sales… is not specific enough. (well no $#it sherlock). A more specific goal might sound like, “I want to increase sales of my Service by 10% in the next quarter”.

Another example may be, I want to increase my marketing by posting on Facebook every weekday for the next 90 days.

This level of clarity eliminates guesswork and gives a definite direction on what you and the team need to work on.

M is for “Measurable”

A SMART Operations goal that is Measurable means that there is something about it that can actually be measured, and it’s not just a subjecting understanding that “yeah, I made more sales”. It needs to have some property to it that you are able to count in order to prove its success or gauge progress.

Example of a goal that isn’t measurable. “Gain more customer feedback to improve our service.” This is vague and there isn’t anything specifically measurable about it.

Example of a measurable goal: I will ask 100 clients for feedback and receive 50% back. This is definitely measurable (in terms of sending 100 clients for feedback, and the word required to get at least 50% back)

A is for “Achievable

I always find the “Achievable” goals the hardest for me to be realistic about. You always want to set goals that push you to success, but are not so high as to discourage you from doing the work. (We only have so many hours in the day, after all, and self-care and time with family and friends are important).

I’m sure we’d all love to double our business in 90 days, but would that actually be achievable in the time you or your team have? Would it make more sense to have that goal for a year, and identify some projects or smaller types of goals that are achievable that will get you there?

Example: I will increase social media interaction by 15% in the next 90 days.

Bad example: I will double my social media following in the next 30 days.

R is for “Relevant”

The “R” always makes me laugh a little bit, because it basically is using common sense when establishing your goals. Making something relevant means making sure it is actually in line with your business values and your future vision. This is where Business and Strategic Objectives really come into play.

As someone who has worked with many clients on their strategic objectives, I know first-hand how they can really provide the roadmap for business owners to get unstuck and drive their business forward.

If a business has a business objective to improve student learning outcomes, they may create a goal that includes “introducing interactive e-learning modules for challenging subjects, aiming to improve class average scores by 8%.

T is for “Time-Bound”

Lastly, the “T” stands for Time-bound. In short, this just means that the goal should have some sort of time frame that it should be achieved by. Otherwise, it’s a goal out there just hanging there waiting, with no sense of urgency on taking the steps to get there.

Time is also one of the project management rules for creating tasks and projects. There should never be a project or a task that doesn’t have a date tied to it. Otherwise, it’s just an idea, not an actual task.

🍁 (For more on project management, check out this blog post .) 🍁

Sometimes Deadlines can be intimidating, but they are necessary to instill a sense of urgency and motivate motion and movement where there may otherwise be none. If we know we need to get up early to catch an early flight, we will definitely be setting our alarms to get up then.

An example of a good SMART goal for Time-bound would be “I want to write a 1000-word blog post every week for the next 3 months”. 🙂

Challenge Accepted!

SMART Operations goal examples

So, now that you have been familiarized (or re-acquainted) with what smart goals are, why don’t we supply you with a bunch of possibilities that may be applicable to your business?

I have separated them into the 7 strategic objectives that I cover in my Strategic Objective Mapping VIP Day (Called Simple Path to Success) to help get you started. If you are interested, check out the first step to get qualified HERE.

Check them out and figure out which parts are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevent and Time-bound. (Practice makes perfect!)

How many of these have sparked your ideas on what to focus on for the next Quarter?

Need help? Would love you to check out my Simplify and Conquer 90-minute intensive to help figure out the NEXT best steps to take on your business ownership journey from a certified Director of Operations and Project/Data Management specialist.

Person reaching for a star, or a Goal

SMART Sales Goals:

  • Increase the quarterly sales volume of our premium product line by 15% over the next three months by expanding our sales team and introducing targeted promotions
  • Sell 3 VIP service days a month for the next 3 months by increasing networking and marketing efforts
  • Boost cross-selling rates by 10% in the next quarter by training the sales team in our product ecosystem and offering bundled promotions for complementary products.

SMART Visibility Goals

  • Boost our monthly website traffic from organic search by 25% over the next six months by implementing a content-focused SEO strategy.
  • Achieve a consistent 10% monthly growth rate in our Instagram followers over the next quarter by posting daily, hosting bi-weekly live sessions, and partnering with brands complementary to ours for giveaways.
  • Boost our email open rate to 25% and click-through rate to 5% over the next three months by segmenting our email list and introducing personalized content based on user behavior.

SMART Operations Goals

  • Decrease product return rates by 8% in the next year by enhancing quality control measures and providing clearer product descriptions.
  • Decrease average service delivery time by 10% over the next quarter by optimizing team workflows and investing in advanced project management tools.
  • Shorten the client onboarding process by 3 days within the next 6 months by implementing a streamlined digital intake system and assigning dedicated onboarding specialists.

SMART Team Goals

  • Achieve a 90% employee retention rate over the next fiscal year by introducing a team reward system and employee engagement program.
  • Boost team productivity by 15% over the next quarter by implementing a new project management tool and providing time management training sessions.
  • Improve inter-departmental collaboration by launching bi-weekly cross-functional team meetings and achieving a 20% reduction in project miscommunications over the next 6 months.

SMART Financial Goals

  • We will increase our profit by 100% by increasing the process of our services and performing more of them every month
  • Decrease the average client acquisition cost by 10% over the next quarter by optimizing our digital marketing campaigns and enhancing the referral program.
  • Increase quarterly revenue by 12% over the next year by upselling additional services to existing clients and expanding our service offerings into two new regional markets.

Person reaching the summit of a mountain

SMART Client Experience Goals

  • We will decrease client turnover by 50% by redoing our onboarding process and clarifying all expectations and policies prior to working with them.
  • Achieve a 95% client satisfaction rate by year-end through introducing bi-monthly feedback sessions and implementing a client-centric training program for our service teams.
  • Integrate client feedback into our service offerings by implementing at least three major suggestions from our quarterly feedback surveys over the next 6 months.

SMART Product Creation Goals

  • Will create a pre-work product that will allow us to sell a smaller service upfront, still earn $$ while creating proposals, and allow the client to get to know us.
  • Will redevelop our beginner course to be a 2-month instead of a 3-month course, including a one-on-one session and weekly touch-bases by Dec 31 so it can launch in Q1.
  • Integrate our new scheduling tool into all of our consulting packages in the next 2 months, aiming to improve client booking efficiency by 25%.

Being SMART about it all

Navigating the world of business, especially in service-based industries, can be overwhelming. Especially when you have other aspects of your life that keep you from putting in the hours that you feel like you need to in your job. Central to this chaotic puzzle is the art of setting solid, actionable goals. The SMART formula comes into play, helping us carve out simple, clear, realistic, and, most importantly, achievable targets.

But, setting these goals is just one side of the coin. Keeping the momentum and passion alive is the other. The creation of simple habits, like breaking tasks down or celebrating small wins can make a huge difference. Enjoy the journey, not just the finish line.

By blending the clarity of SMART goals with the right motivational techniques, any business, big or small, is better equipped to ride the waves of challenges and triumphs, making the journey both productive and fulfilling.

Tools to help you set up your Goals


If you appreciate having a tool to streamline your goal-setting process, our Airtable Goal Planner template might be just what you’re looking for. It offers a simple way to lay out, monitor, and reach your business aspirations. Explore the Airtable template here.

This is a really good way to find out more about Airtable as well!

Looking to learn more? 

Check out these blogs:

Planning your life by priorities

Simple Task and Project Management

Organizational Values (Big Rocks)


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