What are SMART Goals?

A SMART goal is a goal-setting method first introduced in 1981 by George Doran, Arthur Miller, and James Cunnigham. In the article, “There’s a S.M.A.R.T Way to Write Management Goals and Objectives,” the authors introduce the SMART acronym and its criteria:

  • Specific goals are direct, detailed, and meaningful.
  • Measurable goals are quantifiable and can be tracked to monitor progress or success.
  • Attainable goals are realistic and require the adequate tools or resources to achieve them.
  • Relevant goals align with your company mission and will push a business forward.
  • Time-based goals have a definite time frame and a completion date.

Why do you need to set SMART Goals?

Goal setting is a necessary component for success in any business. They give us purpose and help us turn our aspirations into reality. But, “80% of small business owners said that they don’t keep track of their business goals”, according to Peter Vanden Bos from Inc. and the Annual Staples National Small Business Survey.


How do you set SMART Goals?

The first step in the SMART goal setting process is to be as specific as possible with your goal. Consider the 5 W’s; who, what, where, when, and why.

It’s important to know how to measure SMART goals. Goal tracking is a vital part of the goal-setting process. This keeps businesses accountable for measuring the progress, success, or failure of their goals.

The most compelling goals push us out of our comfort zones and encourage us to grow. But they also need to be realistic.

If your goal isn’t directly connected to the work you’re doing, it’s probably not a good goal. And on a higher level, if it’s not aligned to your company’s mission statement and values, then it can be hard to understand the meaningful impact of your work.

Your goal can be specific, measurable, attainable, and relevant – but it’s all trivial if your goal isn’t time-bound. Timing is Everything. If your goal is to book 25 Back to School displays but it is November, then you have missed the Back to School time frame.


Example of a SMART Goal:

Let’s put this theory into practice. For this SMART goal example, let’s say our goal is to increase the number of bookings for Birthday Yard Cards. Here’s how we can turn this into a SMART goal.

  • Specific – Increase the number of bookings for Birthday Yard Cards from our current 20 per month to 40 per month by March 31, 2022 by scheduling daily posts on Social Media and running a monthly special on our website.
  • Measurable – We will track the number of bookings through our scheduling software to measure the success of our goal.
  • Attainable – We have 15 Birthday Yard Card sets, adequate stakes and marketing materials, and employees for prepping, set up and pick up.
  • Relevant – This supports our company mission to provide a special way to celebrate big milestones in our community.
  • Time-Bound – We will roll this campaign out over a 3-month period starting on January 1st. Daily Social Media posts will be scheduled for Facebook and Instagram every Sunday for the following week. We will advertise on Facebook Marketplace and other local community groups 3 times per week, as well as running a monthly promotion on our website.


What resources are available to help with your SMART Goals?

SCORE has the largest network of free volunteer small business mentors in the nation. These mentors can help you start, grow, or transition your business. They also offer great resources to help you set SMART goals.


Small Business Development Centers provide counseling and training to small businesses including business planning, strategy, operations, financial management, marketing, sales, goals setting and so much more.


Download a FREE template for setting your SMART goals.


Don’t forget to join Yard Card Business Support and Supply Facebook Group, if you haven’t already. You’ll often find additional information, tips, and videos from other carders. Also, don’t forget to check back for the next installment of Business Basics where we will be discussing Hiring. 



Elaina Boling is the owner of The Yard Life, a yard card company in Fort Collins, Colorado as well as a Creative Specialist for Yard Card Supply. She is married with 5 children and enjoys an active lifestyle. Elaina is passionate about quality products, mentoring, and growing the yard card industry.


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