Creating a Business Plan for 2018: How to Set SMART Goals for a High-Demand Year

Thu December 07, 2017 - National Edition
Megan Wild

SMART goal setting is an acronym that represents creating a vision around ideas that are <strong>specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based</strong>, allowing you to fulfill business goals effectively.
SMART goal setting is an acronym that represents creating a vision around ideas that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based, allowing you to fulfill business goals effectively.

The new year brings new business resolutions and plans. When it comes to setting major goals for your construction business, use SMART goal setting strategies to be successful in an upcoming high-demand year.

SMART goal setting is an acronym that represents creating a vision around ideas that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based, allowing you to fulfill business goals effectively. You'll take each larger goal and break it down into smaller, clear and specific activities and tasks that must be completed to realize the big picture vision. Here is an outline of each aspect of setting SMART goals with helpful examples:

1. Make It Specific

Remember the five W's of interrogative questions? Consider these as your guideposts when determining the specific goal.

Your goal must state what will be accomplished. Then, you must determine by whom, when and where this will occur. Add in the why to motivate you to achieve your vision.

For instance, stating, "I want to add a new service to my construction business" is a vague, "unsmart" goal that doesn't show any of what's supposed to be done.

Try this instead: "I will develop a sustainability initiative that focuses on utilizing green and reclaimed building materials, sourcing from contacts in the company network as materials become available and relevantly needed. This initiative lightens the company environmental footprint, adds to the mission statement and attracts eco-conscious customers."

2. Make It Measurable

To know if your business goal is effective and successful, you must make it measurable. When you measure the vision, you will clearly see how the final results were achieved, along with major milestones that may have looked like failures at first attempt. Measurability comes down, again, to answering a few questions:

  • How much will these efforts cost, if anything?
  • How often will my company need to source these materials?
  • How many units of various materials will be needed for specific projects?

A simple spreadsheet or company tracking software will be helpful in tracking expenses, sales, data or interest related to your SMART goal. Goal and habit building apps for entrepreneurs, such as StickK and GoalsOnTrack, monitor progress on the goal while showing charts and graphs that demonstrate time and other variables.

3. Make It Attainable

Is your company SMART goal realistically attainable? More importantly, do you believe in your and your staff's ability to accomplish this goal? Don't set your company up for failure if the goal is not realistic. Resources may be gained, but that is another step in the process of reaching your overall SMART goal.

If your staff doesn't believe in the goal or the company's ability to achieve it, then they will not invest in the idea, either. Teams should feel like they are actively and effectively contributing to the development and progress of the SMART goal, but the head of the company is the vision maker. It's a good idea to sit down with your teams and get their thoughts on the SMART goal after you've outlined the basics.

When it comes to motivating your staff to reach the goal, offering performance-based incentives, like bonuses tied to sales, of subset tasks will make them more likely to buy into the idea and push to achieve it. The 2015 World-at-Work survey showed that 94 percent of companies offered short-term incentives, while 53 percent provided long-term incentives besides pay.

Incentives provide a positive and active form of reassurance to your staff letting them know you believe in them.

4. Make It Relevant

Make your SMART goal attainable by focusing on its long-term relevance for the future of the company, even if it's a small goal. Your SMART goals always fall into short-term or long-term arcs, but either way, they will have long-term impact.

Ask yourself how the SMART goal fits in with your mission statement and existing company services and goals. SMART goals aren't rushed into or "easy."

5. Make It Time-Based

You've ensured so far that your business goal is specific, measurable, attainable and relevant, but you must also be able to place it within a time frame. Time-basing your goal will not detract from achieving it but rather motivate you and your staff to realize it. Begin gradually, such as placing 50 calls a day, and build as time goes by.

Timelines are also helpfully developed by contact relevant parties that may provide materials or resources for your business, asking about when and how they are able to do so. You don't have to do unspecific guesswork. Once you arrange a timeline, your measurable deliverables must consistently be used when it comes to market research and tracking sales to stay on course.

If you feel uninspired, your SMART goal may need more time and information for clarification. SMART goal setting helps businesses to avoid disappointment and wasted time and money in the end.

There will be trial and error and starts and stops in the process, but don't be discouraged. Take time to trace each step and task thoughtfully. Writing down your goals with each of the steps of SMART goal setting will help you develop your business plan for 2018 and make a high-demand year more focused and exciting.

Megan Wild writes is a freelance writer who specializes in construction. You can find some of her work on sites like, Procore, Construction Equipment Guide, and more. Follow her on Twitter @Megan_Wild.