Setting goals is something we all do in our day-to-day lives. It can be as simple as getting ready for work in the morning: We have a measurable goal of being awake, dressed, and at our desk by a certain time. 

In business, we regularly set goals to help us stay motivated and focused. The best structure for goal setting is using the SMART methodology. 

What is a SMART Goal?

SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely Goal Framework. This framework allows us to set goals that will lead back to our purpose, help us to determine if we are being productive and ultimately to meet the goals you have. Below is a summary of each component of setting a SMART goal. 


To set a specific goal, consider the five “W” questions. 

  1. Who is involved in this goal? 
  2. What do I want to accomplish?
  3. Where is this goal to be achieved?
  4. When do I want to achieve this goal? 
  5. Why do I want to achieve this goal?

For example: a general goal would be “I want to learn to drive”. A specific SMART goal would be “I want to attend driving school near home, to get the right training and be able to drive a car by the end of October.


It’s important to be able to measure your goal. Measurable criteria is a concrete way to track your progress. To determine if your goal is measurable, see if it can be quantified in terms of counting “how much” of something will be gained or lost, or setting a date for meeting that goal. For example: “My goal is to complete my driver’s education course by October 15th.”


Goals are more likely to be met when the measure of success is reasonably achievable. Ask yourself whether you have the resources or support to achieve that goal. You may even want to create a daily or weekly outline of smaller tasks, necessary to achieve that goal. Will those tasks  fit in with your other responsibilities? Make a plan and analyze if it’s realistic. For example, it’s achievable to attend driver’s education classes if the class times are on evenings when you don’t have to work.  


Being realistic is a delicate balance of your past history and the extent to which you want to move forward. Similar to the criteria for being achievable, setting a realistic SMART goal requires you to ask yourself if it’s reasonably within your reach. Has anyone done it before you? Are there an overwhelming amount of obstacles and setbacks to this goal? Is it physically possible? For example, it may be unrealistic to buy a car within 1 month if you don’t yet have a source of income.


Goals are more likely to be attained if they are time-bound. Putting a deadline date on a goal gives it a sense of urgency and it becomes increasingly high-priority as that date approaches. It also adds a sense of accountability, especially if your goal involves other people. For example, “I need to register for a driver’s education course by September 20th, to be accepted into the October 1st training group.”


It’s been said that “Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.” This is especially true when it comes to setting business goals. Setting SMART goals for business startup or growth will help to make the process less stressful and more productive. 

If you’re ready to take the next step, book a meeting with an experienced Business Advisor at Small Business Centres Ontario. We have 54 offices across Ontario.  Working with a Business Advisor means you are not alone and that you can get help to build your plan.  Find a location near you.

Want to learn more about planning and goal-setting for your business? Check out our free online course, “What is a Business Plan?”.