By Adam Fout
(Just FYI, I’ve included a link to a downloadable SMART action plan at the bottom of the page — but, because I’m feeling generous, I’ve linked to it up here too. Click the button to grab your free action plan.)
Instituting a SMART action plan is probably one of the — smartest — things you can do as a business owner…
As long as it’s followed by action.
Sounds silly and repetitive, but let me explain.
A SMART Action Plan — Creating a Plan Means Nothing Until You Set It in Motion
SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Agreed Upon, Reasonable, and Time-Bound. It’s an acronym that’s been around for a long time, and it is generally associated with goal setting, though, as you can see, the acronym can be applied rather broadly in a business setting.
Now, I will note that the version of SMART I’ve listed above isn’t a standardized interpretation — in fact, over the years, SMART has come to be acronymized in a variety of ways. Around here, however, we’ve chosen that interpretation for a specific reason — if you have questions about why we chose “reasonable” over “realistic” or “time-bound” over “timely,” just ask in the comments, and I’ll be happy to explain.
Now, about that action plan…
A SMART action plan is the method by which you turn your SMART goals into reality.
This may sound a little ridiculous, but here’s the truth:
Most people who set goals in a business setting don’t achieve them — and those who do often achieve them by accident or were already on the way to achieving them before they set the goals.
Setting the goals did basically nothing.
Tell Me If This Situation Sounds Familiar
You’re sitting around a table with the boss, and the boss wants results.
- The boss spouts off some absurd growth figures off the top of his or her head, usually based on nothing more than the boost they got from their cup of coffee that morning, and leaves it up to you to figure out how to achieve them.
- Or maybe the boss gives you a series of goals to achieve but is extremely vague about what those goals actually look like in practice — you and your coworkers have no clue what they even mean.
- Or maybe the boss sets some goals that are basically meaningless — they have nothing to do with actual growth or anything beyond vanity metrics, and achieving them won’t mean much for the business in a practical sense.
In all these cases, the boss basically just walks off without any plan of action.
In the first case, you do nothing, because the goals weren’t SMART — they were stupidly unachievable, and they mostly just give you low-level anxiety.
In the second case, you do nothing and create no action plan because you have no idea what you’re trying to achieve in the first place.
In the third case, again, nothing is done — why bother? Who cares if we get 10,000 likes on Facebook? Or if we get 100,000 impressions, or Go to the full article.