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The Anatomy of a SMART Goal

The Anatomy of a SMART Goal

I have been privileged to meet with amazing business owners who are entrepreneurial geniuses. They know where they want their business to go. The question is, how do they get there?

Road that says success in the asphalt

Business owners achieve success by creating actionable steps towards their dream. These actionable steps are called SMART goals.


SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely.

What does a SMART goal look like?

As an accounting firm gains higher level clients, they often realize that the lower level clients are less profitable. The employees of the firm could be working on getting bigger clients if they could do the work for the lower level clients more efficiently.

Ordinarily, to solve this problem, the partners of the firm create a goal like “work more efficiently to make time for newer and bigger clients.”

But this goal will never get the accounting firm where it wants to go.

What is the problem with this goal?

This goal does not give actionable steps for the firm to take.

The overarching idea isn’t bad. The firm wants to be more efficient, but what does “work more efficiently” mean? Who on the team needs to work more efficiently and how would they do that?

The accounting firm needs to rework this goal into a SMART goal. Let’s say I talked with the accounting firm partners and discovered that many of the lower level smaller clients are not using the most efficient bookkeeping system which cost both the client and the accountant time. I also might find out there are several employees on the team that had clients that used QuickBooks Online. Those team members saw how much time it saved the client and the firm. After considering other suggestions and possibilities, it seemed that moving clients to QuickBooks Online would be the one thing that made the work more efficient.

So instead of saying “Our goal is to work more efficiently” the SMART goal becomes “Our firm will have 90% of business clients on QuickBooks Online by September 30.”

What makes this a SMART goal?

Specific. Instead of saying “efficient” the goal is narrowed down to an efficient process, QuickBooks Online.

woman with tablet set SMART goalsMeasurable. Instead of using the vague word “more” there is a measurable number involved: 90%

Attainable. Is it actually doable? Depending on the size of the firm, yes, this would be doable. In some cases, this may mean losing some lower level clients who are unwilling to change, but it may be worth it, in the long run, to pave the way for larger clients.

Relevant. If the overarching goal of a firm is to grow revenue/profits or stay current in the market, then this is definitely relevant.

Timely. There is a specific date attached to the goal, September 30th.

Breaking Down the Goal

In order to make the goal even more attainable, it’s helpful to break it down into even smaller goals or action steps. For example:

  1. Send all business clients communication about converting to QuickBooks Online during tax planning meeting in Quarter 1 or Quarter 2 at the latest.
  2. By the end of Quarter 1, all accounting/bookkeeping staff will be certified on QuickBooks Online.
  3. Select one person to oversee the conversion process and submit a plan for converting existing clients. Other team members will begin documenting the processes for newly-converted clients including any training that should be done. All due by March 31.
  4. At the beginning of Quarter 2, conversion begins in earnest with 35% of clients converted by end of July.
  5. In Quarter 3, convert remaining clients using momentum and learnings from previous conversions to accelerate the process. Convert the remaining 55% of clients by September 30.

Carla CaldwellGoal achieved!

Celebrate with a day off, massages, nice lunch, a gift card for dinner with spouse, or anything else that would be special to your team. Make the celebration known from the beginning of the process so that there is motivation to keep your team moving towards the SMART goal.

If you have goals and dreams for your business and you need guidance defining your SMART goals, contact Carla Caldwell for a consultation.

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