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A Guide to Crushing Your Goals

· Bookkeeping Tips,Life Lessons and Inspiration

Welcome to our guide on setting and crushing financial goals for your small business. Let's face it, steering the ship of your own business can feel like riding a rollercoaster - thrilling, a bit scary, and occasionally leaving you wondering why you got on in the first place. But fear not, because when it comes to finances, we've got your back!

SMART goals are a popular framework used to set clear and actionable objectives for personal and professional development. The acronym SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. By incorporating these five elements into goal-setting, individuals and businesses can increase their chances of success by creating goals that are well-defined, realistic, and focused on tangible outcomes.

In this guide, we'll explore each component of SMART goals in detail, providing practical tips and examples to help you apply this framework effectively in various aspects of your business, but feel free to apply it to all aspects of your life. Whether you're aiming to boost productivity, improve performance, or achieve personal milestones, mastering the art of SMART goal-setting can be a game-changer on your journey towards success.

Whether you're dreaming of growing your revenue, slashing expenses, or just want to level up your financial game, we've got the tips, tricks, and real-life examples to help you make it happen. So, keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times, and enjoy the ride into the wild and wonderful world of financial goal-setting for small businesses!


Setting SPECIFIC Financial Goals

Setting specific financial goals is crucial for small business owners to effectively manage their finances and drive success. To begin this process, business owners should first identify areas for improvement in their business finances. Here's how they can do it:

Conduct a Comprehensive Financial Assessment:

  • Review financial statements such as income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements to gain a holistic understanding of the business's financial health.
  • Analyze key financial ratios and indicators to identify areas of strength and weakness. For example, examine metrics like gross profit margin, operating profit margin, current ratio, and debt-to-equity ratio.
  • Identify any trends or patterns in revenue, expenses, and cash flow that may indicate areas for improvement.

Evaluate Operational Efficiency:

  • Assess the efficiency of various business processes and operations to identify opportunities for cost savings or revenue enhancement.
  • Consider areas such as production, inventory management, procurement, and distribution to pinpoint inefficiencies or bottlenecks.

Analyze Customer and Market Trends:

  • Evaluate customer behavior, preferences, and feedback to identify opportunities for revenue growth or product/service improvements.
  • Monitor market trends, competition, and industry developments to identify potential threats or opportunities that may impact the business's financial performance.

Assess Financial Risks:

  • Identify potential financial risks and vulnerabilities that could affect the business's profitability or stability.
  • Consider risks related to market fluctuations, regulatory changes, supplier dependencies, credit risks, and operational disruptions.

Engage Key Stakeholders:

  • Seek input and feedback from key stakeholders such as management team members, employees, suppliers, customers, and financial advisors.
  • Collaborate with relevant stakeholders to gain diverse perspectives and insights on areas for improvement.

Once areas for improvement in the business finances have been identified, the next step is to set specific financial goals. This involves clearly defining the desired outcomes and targets that the business aims to achieve within a specified timeframe.

Here are some examples of dumb vs SMART goals:

Non-specific Goals:

  1. Increase sales.
  2. Reduce expenses.
  3. Improve profitability.
  4. Enhance customer satisfaction.
  5. Grow the business.

Specific Goals:

  1. Increase monthly sales revenue by 15% compared to the previous quarter by implementing targeted marketing campaigns and offering promotions to existing customers.
  2. Decrease monthly operating expenses by 10% within the next six months by renegotiating vendor contracts, optimizing inventory management, and implementing energy-saving initiatives.
  3. Achieve a net profit margin of 20% by the end of the fiscal year through a combination of increasing sales revenue, reducing variable costs, and improving operational efficiency.
  4. Increase customer satisfaction scores by 15% within the next quarter by implementing a customer feedback system, providing additional staff training on customer service skills, and resolving customer complaints promptly.
  5. Expand market reach by opening two new retail locations in targeted geographic areas within the next year, supported by market research, feasibility studies, and securing financing for expansion.


When setting financial goals for your small business, it's essential to make them measurable to track progress effectively and determine if you're on target to achieve them. Measuring goals involves defining specific metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) that provide quantifiable data on your business's performance. But first, a little background on these two related concepts:

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and metrics are closely related concepts used to measure various aspects of a business's performance. While they are often used interchangeably, there are subtle differences between the two.


  • Metrics are quantitative measurements used to track specific aspects of a business's performance, operations, or activities.
  • Metrics can be financial (e.g., revenue, expenses, profit), operational (e.g., production output, inventory levels), or related to other areas such as customer satisfaction or employee performance.
  • Metrics provide raw data or information without context, and they can be used to measure performance at different levels of granularity.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs):

  • KPIs are a subset of metrics that are particularly important for assessing the success of a business in achieving its strategic objectives or goals.
  • KPIs are selected from the broader pool of metrics based on their relevance to specific goals and their ability to provide actionable insights into performance.
  • KPIs are often used as a way to focus attention on the most critical areas of performance that directly impact the success of the business.

Relationship between KPIs and Metrics:

  • Subset Relationship: KPIs are a subset of metrics. While all KPIs are metrics, not all metrics are KPIs. KPIs are carefully selected metrics that are deemed most crucial for monitoring and evaluating progress towards strategic goals.
  • Strategic Focus: KPIs are aligned with the strategic objectives of the business and are used to measure performance in critical areas that directly impact the achievement of those objectives. Metrics, on the other hand, can cover a broader range of performance indicators, including those that may not be directly tied to strategic goals.
  • Actionability: KPIs are chosen based on their ability to provide actionable insights that drive decision-making and performance improvement. Metrics, while providing valuable data, may not always be directly actionable without additional context or analysis.
  • Performance Evaluation: KPIs are often used for performance evaluation and benchmarking against targets or industry standards. Metrics provide the underlying data that is used to calculate and analyze KPIs.

Okay, now that we have a little background on these two measurements, we can use them in our goal-setting process.

Defining Measurable Metrics:

  • Identify the specific aspects of your business that are relevant to your financial goals. For example, if your goal is to increase sales revenue, relevant metrics may include total sales revenue, average sales per customer, or sales revenue by product/service.
  • Choose metrics that are easy to measure and understand. Avoid overly complex metrics that may be difficult to track accurately or interpret.

Selecting Key Performance Indicators (KPIs):

  • Focus on KPIs that directly reflect progress toward your financial goals. For instance, if your goal is to improve profitability, relevant KPIs may include gross profit margin, net profit margin, or return on investment (ROI).
  • Consider leading indicators that provide early signals of performance trends and lagging indicators that measure outcomes after the fact. Leading indicators can help you take proactive measures to stay on track with your goals.

Implementing Measurement Tools:

  • Use accounting software, spreadsheets, or other financial tools to track and analyze your chosen metrics and KPIs regularly.
  • Set up systems to collect data accurately and consistently, ensuring reliability in your measurements.

By defining measurable metrics and KPIs, small business owners can gain valuable insights into their financial performance and make informed decisions to achieve their goals effectively. Regularly monitoring these metrics allows you to course-correct as needed and stay focused on driving success in your business.

Here are some examples of dumb vs SMART goals:

Immeasurable Goals:

  1. Improve customer service.
  2. Enhance employee morale.
  3. Increase brand awareness.
  4. Expand market presence.
  5. Achieve operational excellence.

Measurable Goals:

  1. Increase customer satisfaction ratings by 20% within the next six months, as measured by post-interaction surveys or online reviews.
  2. Decrease employee turnover rate by 15% within the next year, as measured by the percentage of employees who voluntarily leave the company.
  3. Increase brand mentions on social media platforms by 30% within the next quarter, as measured by the number of brand-related mentions, shares, and engagements.
  4. Enter three new geographic markets within the next year, as measured by the establishment of physical or online presence (e.g., opening new stores, launching targeted advertising campaigns in new regions).
  5. Reduce manufacturing defects by 25% within the next six months, as measured by the percentage of defective products identified during quality control inspections.

Ensuring Goals are ACHIEVABLE

Setting achievable goals is crucial for small business owners to ensure that they are realistic and attainable given their current resources, capabilities, and market conditions. Here's how business owners can ensure their goals are achievable:

Assessing Current Resources and Capabilities:

  • Financial Resources: Evaluate the business's current financial position, including cash flow, available capital, and access to financing.
  • Human Resources: Assess the skills, expertise, and availability of employees needed to accomplish the goals.
  • Technological Resources: Consider the technology infrastructure and tools available to support goal achievement.
  • Physical Resources: Evaluate the availability of physical assets such as equipment, inventory, and facilities.

Using Historical Data and Market Conditions:

  • Historical Performance: Analyze past performance data, including financial statements, sales reports, and operational metrics, to identify trends and patterns.
  • Market Analysis: Conduct market research to understand current market conditions, industry trends, competitor behavior, and customer preferences.
  • Benchmarking: Compare the business's performance against industry benchmarks and competitors to set realistic targets that align with market standards.
  • SWOT Analysis: Conduct a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis to identify internal strengths and weaknesses, as well as external opportunities and threats that may impact goal achievement.
    • Strengths: These are internal factors that give a business a competitive advantage and contribute to its success. Strengths can include resources, capabilities, unique selling propositions, brand reputation, and customer loyalty.
    • Weaknesses: These are internal factors that place a business at a disadvantage or hinder its performance. Weaknesses can include areas where the business lacks resources, skills, or expertise, as well as operational inefficiencies or poor market positioning.
    • Opportunities: These are external factors in the business environment that the business can leverage to its advantage. Opportunities can arise from market trends, technological advancements, changes in regulations, emerging customer needs, or gaps in the market that the business can capitalize on.
    • Threats: These are external factors that pose challenges or risks to the business's success. Threats can include competition, economic downturns, changes in consumer preferences, technological disruptions, regulatory changes, or supply chain disruptions.

Setting Realistic Targets:

  • Incremental Approach: Break down larger goals into smaller, achievable targets or milestones to track progress and maintain momentum.
  • SMART Criteria: Ensure that goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound to provide clear direction and focus.
  • Flexibility: Be open to adjusting goals as needed based on changes in circumstances, market conditions, or resource availability.
  • Collaboration: Involve key stakeholders, such as employees, suppliers, and advisors, in goal-setting to gain diverse perspectives and buy-in.

Additional Advice for Achievability:

  • Risk Assessment: Identify potential risks and challenges that may hinder goal achievement and develop contingency plans to mitigate them.
  • Skill Development: Invest in employee training and development to enhance skills and capabilities necessary for goal attainment.
  • Feedback Loop: Establish a feedback loop to regularly review progress, assess performance against targets, and make necessary adjustments.
  • Celebrate Milestones: Recognize and celebrate achievements and milestones along the way to maintain motivation and morale.

By assessing current resources and capabilities, using historical data and market conditions to set realistic targets, and following best practices for goal setting, small business owners can ensure that their goals are achievable and set themselves up for success.

Here are some examples of dumb vs SMART goals:

Unachievable Goals:

  1. Increase annual revenue by 500% within the next six months without any additional investment in marketing or sales.
  2. Achieve 100% customer satisfaction rating for all products and services, with no negative feedback or complaints.
  3. Double the size of the business's workforce within the next quarter without increasing the budget for hiring or training.
  4. Become the market leader in the industry within one year, surpassing all competitors in terms of market share and brand recognition.
  5. Eliminate all operating expenses and achieve a profit margin of 100% within the next month.

Achievable Goals:

  1. Increase annual revenue by 20% within the next six months through targeted marketing campaigns, expanding product offerings, and improving customer retention strategies.
  2. Improve overall customer satisfaction rating from 85% to 90% within the next year by implementing customer feedback surveys, addressing common pain points, and enhancing customer service training for employees.
  3. Hire five new employees with critical skills and experience within the next quarter to support business growth initiatives, while reallocating resources to provide targeted training and development opportunities for existing staff.
  4. Increase market share by 10% within the next year through strategic partnerships, targeted marketing campaigns, and product differentiation strategies that capitalize on the business's unique strengths and customer preferences.
  5. Reduce operating expenses by 15% within the next quarter through cost-saving initiatives such as renegotiating supplier contracts, optimizing inventory management, and streamlining operational processes to improve efficiency and profitability.

Aligning Goals with Business RELEVANCE

Aligning financial goals with broader business objectives and strategies is essential for ensuring that the business's financial efforts contribute to its overall success and long-term sustainability. Here's how a business owner can effectively connect their financial goals with the broader business context:

Understanding Business Objectives and Strategies:

  • Start by clarifying the business's overarching objectives and strategies, including its vision, mission, core values, and strategic priorities.
  • Identify key areas of focus such as growth, profitability, market expansion, product innovation, customer satisfaction, operational efficiency, or sustainability.

Linking Financial Goals to Strategic Objectives:

  • Review the business's strategic objectives and identify how financial goals can directly support or contribute to their achievement.
  • Align financial goals with specific strategic priorities, ensuring that they are relevant and meaningful in driving the business forward.

Differentiating Financial Goals from the Business's Vision or Mission:

  • While financial goals focus on specific targets related to revenue, expenses, profit, cash flow, or return on investment, the business's vision or mission defines its broader purpose, values, and long-term aspirations.
  • The vision or mission reflects the business's ultimate goals and the impact it aims to make in the world, whereas financial goals are more specific and measurable targets that contribute to realizing that vision or mission.

Supporting Each Other:

  • Financial goals and the business's vision or mission are interconnected and mutually supportive. Financial success enables the business to fulfill its broader purpose and achieve its long-term objectives, while the vision or mission provides the guiding principles and direction for setting meaningful financial goals.
  • Financial goals translate the business's vision or mission into actionable targets that drive performance and accountability, ensuring that resources are effectively allocated to support strategic priorities.

Examples of Aligning Financial Goals with Business Objectives:

  • If the business's strategic objective is to expand market share, financial goals may include increasing sales revenue in specific target markets or launching new product lines to capture market opportunities.
  • If the business's strategic objective is to enhance customer satisfaction, financial goals may focus on improving service quality, investing in customer service training, or implementing loyalty programs to retain existing customers and attract new ones.
  • By aligning financial goals with broader business objectives and strategies, business owners can ensure that their financial efforts are purposeful, strategic, and contribute to the overall success and sustainability of the business. This alignment fosters clarity, focus, and alignment across the organization, driving collective efforts towards achieving the business's vision and mission.

Here are some examples of dumb vs SMART goals:

  1. A local bakery specializing in artisanal bread and pastries, with a primarily elderly clientele who prefer traditional communication channels over social media.
    Irrelevant Goal: Launch a social media campaign to increase Instagram followers by 50% within the next month.
    Relevant Goal: Host a baking workshop for local schools to promote community engagement and showcase the bakery's expertise in artisanal baking techniques.
  2. A law firm specializing in corporate law, with a focus on serving businesses in the technology sector.
    Irrelevant Goal: Organize a charity marathon fundraiser for a non-profit organization unrelated to the firm's legal focus.
    Relevant Goal: Conduct a webinar series on data privacy regulations for technology startups to attract potential clients and establish the firm as a thought leader in the industry.
  3. A boutique clothing store catering to high-end fashion enthusiasts, with a commitment to sustainable and ethical fashion practices.
    Irrelevant Goal: Develop a mobile app for online shopping without considering the store's target demographic's preference for in-store shopping experiences.
    Relevant Goal: Launch a loyalty program offering exclusive discounts and personalized styling sessions to reward repeat customers and enhance brand loyalty.
  4. A neighborhood coffee shop known for its cozy ambiance and personalized customer service, with a focus on building a sense of community among patrons.
    Irrelevant Goal: Invest in high-tech coffee brewing equipment without considering the café's focus on creating a cozy atmosphere for customers.
    Relevant Goal: Partner with a local artist to host monthly art exhibitions showcasing the work of emerging artists, attracting new customers and enhancing the café's cultural appeal.
  5. A software development company specializing in custom solutions for small businesses, with a focus on delivering cost-effective and user-friendly software products.
    Irrelevant Goal: Implement a premium subscription model for software products without considering the company's target market of small businesses with limited budgets.
    Relevant Goal: Conduct user testing sessions to gather feedback and improve the user interface of software products, enhancing user experience and increasing customer satisfaction.

Setting TIME-BOUND Financial Goals

Setting time-bound financial goals is crucial for small business owners to provide a sense of urgency, focus efforts, and track progress effectively. Here's how business owners can set appropriate deadlines and break down long-term goals into smaller targets:

Setting Realistic Deadlines:

  • Consider Business Cycle: Take into account the business's natural cycles, peak seasons, and industry-specific timelines when setting deadlines. For example, a retail business may align financial goals with the holiday shopping season.
  • Assess Complexity: Evaluate the complexity of the goal and the resources required to achieve it. Break down the goal into smaller tasks and determine a realistic timeline based on available resources and capabilities.
  • Review Historical Data: Analyze past performance data to understand typical timelines for similar projects or initiatives. Use this information to set realistic deadlines that balance ambition with achievability.
  • Factor in Contingencies: Allow for unexpected delays or obstacles by building flexibility into the timeline. Consider potential risks and develop contingency plans to mitigate them without compromising the overall goal.

Breaking Down Long-Term Goals:

  • Define Milestones: Break down long-term goals into smaller, manageable milestones or targets that can be achieved incrementally. Each milestone should have a clear deadline and contribute to the overall long-term goal.
  • SMART Criteria: Ensure that each milestone is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. This helps maintain focus and accountability throughout the goal-setting process.
  • Allocate Resources: Determine the resources, tasks, and responsibilities associated with each milestone. Allocate resources effectively to ensure that progress is made consistently and efficiently.
  • Regular Review: Schedule regular reviews to assess progress towards each milestone and adjust timelines or strategies as needed. This allows for course correction and ensures that the business stays on track to achieve its long-term financial goals.

By setting realistic deadlines and breaking down long-term goals into smaller, time-bound targets, business owners can create a roadmap for success and maintain momentum towards achieving their financial objectives. This approach provides clarity, focus, and accountability, ultimately leading to greater likelihood of success in reaching financial milestones and driving overall business growth.

Here are some examples of dumb vs SMART goals:

Not Time-Bound Goals:

  1. Improve employee training programs.
  2. Enhance customer service quality.
  3. Increase brand recognition.
  4. Expand into new markets.
  5. Improve product quality.

Time-Bound Goals:

  1. Improve employee training programs by implementing a new training curriculum and conducting workshops by the end of the third quarter.
  2. Enhance customer service quality by achieving a customer satisfaction rating of 90% within the next six months, as measured by post-interaction surveys.
  3. Increase brand recognition by launching a targeted marketing campaign and achieving a 20% increase in brand awareness within the next year.
  4. Expand into new markets by establishing a presence in two new cities within the next 12 months, supported by market research and strategic partnerships.
  5. Improve product quality by reducing defect rates by 15% within the next six months through process improvements and quality control measures.


And that's a wrap, folks! We've covered a lot of ground in this guide to setting and achieving financial goals for your small business. From understanding the ins and outs of SMART goals to aligning your objectives with the bigger picture of your business, you're now armed with the knowledge and tools to take charge of your financial future.

But remember, setting goals is just the first step - the real magic happens when you roll up your sleeves and start putting your plans into action. So don't be afraid to dream big, stay focused, and embrace the occasional detour along the way. After all, the road to success is rarely a straight line, but with determination and a sprinkle of creativity, you'll get there in the end.

Keep this guide tucked away for easy reference and you can finally enjoy the the roller coaster of entrepreneurship! This concludes our ride for today, please gather your belongings and exit through the gift shop!


Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as financial advice. Consult with a qualified professional for personalized guidance tailored to your specific situation.