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Setting SMART Goals for Your Business in 2024

Setting goals for your business is key to making it successful. However, not just any goals will do. You need to set the right goals, and using the SMART goal framework might just be the best way to do that.

A literature review found that specific and measurable goals helped both managers and lower-level employees reach higher performance levels.

SMART goals could therefore be the next tool to add to your business arsenal to help you scale your pet care business.

What are SMART goals?

SMART business goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound objectives that provide a clear framework for effective goal-setting. Following the SMART goal-setting method increases the likelihood of achieving goals by providing a structured and strategic approach.

The SMART system doesn't tell you exactly what your goal should be. Instead, it helps you set goals that can maximize efficiency.

  • S - Specific: The goal must be clearly defined. Instead of saying, “increase customer retention,” you could say, “increase customer retention by 10%.”
  • M - Measurable: As the old adage goes, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” How will you know if you’ve reached your goal if you don’t measure it? Be sure your goal includes units of measure so you can track progress.
  • A - Achievable: Aiming for the clouds is good, but you should be realistic about what you can achieve. The goal should be challenging enough to motivate you and your team while also being an achievable goal.
  • R - Relevant: Every goal should align with the bigger picture of your business. Relevant goals contribute to reaching your business’ desired outcome.
  • T - Time-bound: Every goal should have a target date of completion. Deadlines create a sense of urgency and keep you focused on achieving those goals.
Source: iStock

Why are SMART goals important?

SMART goals are important in business because they offer a strategic approach to achieving key milestones. It’s very easy to be busy in your pet care business without being productive. We often choose to complete the most urgent tasks rather than the ones that will get us closer to our end goals.

SMART goals are effective because they:

  • Lower stress levels: Employees encouraged to set SMART goals reported spending more time in the “flow” state with lower daily stress levels.
  • Increased clarity: When there is a goal for employees to aim towards, everyone is on the same page. SMART goals eliminate ambiguity and misunderstandings. This clarity may translate to better employee productivity and resource management.
  • Improved motivation: SMART goals provide a sense of direction and purpose. When employees are working towards something, there is a sense of accomplishment when they get closer to meeting those goals.
  • Better performance measurements: SMART goals are measurable. Therefore, they make it easy to track employee performance and provide improvement ideas that fit into what employees are working towards.
  • Strategy alignment: When you take the time to set SMART goals, you can ensure that everything your business is working towards is aligned with your end goals. You won’t need to worry about employees working in the wrong direction or improper resource allocation.
  • Increase feelings of success: It can be hard to feel accomplished when faced with a continuous daily grind. Often, your to-do list feels like it will never be completed. SMART goals can give you and your employees the sense of success you’re missing.
Source: iStock

SMART business goal examples.

Before we dive into how to set SMART business goals, it often helps to look at some examples of SMART business goals.

SMART goals for pet care businesses may include:

  • Within the next three months, expand dog walking services to a new neighborhood by acquiring 20 new clients in that area.
  • Introduce a new pet boarding package, by next summer, to increase boarding bookings by 10%.
  • Offer more flexibility and a 24-hour cancellation policy to reduce dog walker cancellations by 15% in the next 12 weeks.
  • Expand pet-sitting services to include overnight stays, generating an additional $5,000 in revenue within the next quarter.
  • Increase online grooming appointments by 20% in the next quarter through a user-friendly online booking system.
  • Reduce appointment cancellations and no-shows by 10% within the next 3 months by sending appointment reminders.

6 Steps to create and achieve SMART goals.

The following steps will help you write SMART objectives and set workable goals for your pet business.

Step 1: Identify your long-term objectives.

Before you can achieve your goals, you need to figure out your vision for the business. In other words, where do you want your business to be in the next three to five years?

What parts of your business need to grow? Do you want more dog-walking clients? Or are you looking to expand your service offerings?

You don't need an exact three-year plan, but envisioning where you want your business to be in a few years can help guide your progress in the right direction.

Step 2: Set a preliminary goal

Now that you have a long-term objective, you can figure out how to get there. That’s where SMART goals come in. Be specific and ensure your goals are measurable and doable. Put a deadline on every goal to keep you motivated. Otherwise, you may be working on it forever.

For example, if your long-term objective is to grow your dog-walking business, you may want to grow your client base. However, “grow my client base” is too vague. You need to make it measurable and with a deadline.

Therefore, this objective may turn into “increase the number of dog walking clients by 20% within the next quarter.”

Don’t worry about ensuring the goal is truly SMART. We’ll do that in the next step.

Step 3: Use the SMART acronym to flesh out your goal

Use the acronym as a guideline to ensure your goal is truly SMART. This step can help you flesh out the preliminary goals from the previous step to take full advantage of the SMART framework.

Start with the first letter, ‘S,’ which stands for specific. Write down as many details for your goal as possible, making it as specific as possible. Don’t just write down “increase revenue.” Write down how you’ll increase revenue. Will you offer a new grooming service or send out marketing emails?

Next, move on to ‘M.’ Do you have a metric you can measure? How will you measure your goal's completion? Having a system set in place is vital. Otherwise, your measurement may never get done or be accurate.

The ‘A’ ensures that your goals are reachable. Read over your goal and ensure it is challenging but doable. Consider what you’ve accomplished in the past to set achievable goals.

Then, consider whether the goal is relevant (R) to your overall objective. Does your smaller goal move you in the right direction for your bigger goal? If your original objective was to increase revenue, but you ended up with a goal to grow your social media, you may want to reassess by adding a revenue metric to measure.

Finally, add the ‘T,’ time-bound. Dig out your calendar and add an appropriate deadline. Your goal is ready to go, so you can start working towards it as soon as the deadline is set.

Source: iStock

Step 4: Measure your goal.

Once you have a SMART goal, it’s time to start working towards it. Here’s where you’ll really make use of your goals' measurability. You’ll need to track whatever metric you’re using for your goal.

For instance, you may track the number of new dog-walking clients or how much revenue you’ve generated via your new overnight pet-sitting service.

It’s best to make measuring your goal as painless as possible. Otherwise, you may not do it. Consider using a pet care software like PetExec to help you measure different metrics more easily. For instance, you can use PetExec’s accounting reports to measure revenue increases.

Step 5: Readjust as needed.

It's important to measure your goals regularly so that you can assess their progress and make changes if necessary. You can set a specific timeline for this, such as every month, to ensure you're on track to achieving your goal.

For instance, your goal may be to increase your total number of dog grooming clients by 20% in three months. If it’s nearing the 2-month mark and you’ve only increased your clients by 5%, it’s time to consider why.

Sometimes, just looking at why and re-adjusting is enough to propel you toward your goal. Other times, you’ll notice that your goal wasn’t achievable initially.

Setting goals is a skill. Odds are, you won’t get it exactly right the first time. Maybe you flip your calendar page and realize that your goal’s deadline is that month, but you’ve made very little progress. Maybe a different business opportunity appeared, and you readjusted your long-term objective.

Either way, your SMART goal must still be working for you. You can reassess and start anew if it is no longer relevant or providing motivation.

Step 6: Start again.

If you reached your goal, good job! If you’ve re-evaluated and decided your goal no longer fits, no worries! Now is the time to start again with new goals that will continue to propel you to your bigger vision.

It’s important to analyze how well you accomplished your initial goals. Consider what you could do better next time. SMART goals have been shown to increase learning, especially when paired with a growth mindset. Using all that you have learned through your original SMART goals will help you set and achieve your new goals.

Perhaps you missed your goal because you lacked the skills to reach them. For instance, if your goal was to increase revenue in your dog daycare, you may have chosen the wrong upselling technique. Analyzing your actions will help you to understand how to be more successful with your goals in the future.

How can PetExec help with your SMART goals?

Using a pet care business software like PetExec can be a great tool to help with your SMART goals.

  • Specific: PetExec’s features help keep your goals specific. Do you want to increase customer communication? PetExec allows you to set up automated communications, including appointment and vaccination reminders which you can use to set a specific goal around. Additionally, the system also logs your customer communication for up to 120 days to help with tracking your goal.
  • Measurable: PetExec allows you to download lots of different reports to make tracking and measuring your goals' progress much easier.
  • Achievable: PetExec can help you achieve your goals by doing some of the heavy lifting for you. If you want to focus your next goals on marketing, but still need to complete the daily business tasks such as employee scheduling, PetExec can help streamline these types of tasks so you can spend more time focused on your marketing goals. Additionally, if you want to gain more positive reviews online but have little time to dedicate to it, PetExec integrates with Broadly to automate the review acquisition tasks.
  • Relevant: As a pet care business software, PetExec has all the features you could need to scale your business to multiple services and locations. You could set a goal to scale your business by utilizing a PetExec feature that you aren’t already using.
  • Time-bound: The in-depth reporting features of PetExec allow you to see if you are on track to achieve your goals by the defined deadline.
Source: iStock

Common mistakes to avoid.

When you write a SMART goal, it’s important not to fall into these traps:

  • Setting too specific goals: We can make our goals so specific that they become difficult to achieve. For example, trying to get new dog-walking clients in a specific area may seem like a great idea, but you can potentially close yourself off to clients in other neighborhoods.
  • Being too ambitious: Be realistic and set attainable goals based on what you’ve done in the past. While you may feel like an achievement boss, you might not feel that way in two weeks when you come down with a cold. You cannot go at 100% all the time; your goals should keep this in mind.
  • Having too long of a deadline: It’s much better to split a large goal into several smaller ones than to have a larger deadline years in the future. Readjusting will be more of a challenge, and more steps will be involved. Plus, it’s hard to stay motivated on one thing for years.
  • Forgetting the big picture: Make sure your SMART goals align with your aspirations. It may be easy to increase revenue in one part of your business or complete a specific training, but does it work towards your end goal?

To learn more about how PetExec can help you set SMART goals for your pet care business, book a free demo today!

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