How to write a SMART goal + free SMART goals template

How to write a SMART goal + free SMART goals template
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SMART goals can help you set your business goals, and the SMART goals template can help ensure you achieve the goals you set. Setting goals for your business is crucial for long-term success, so when you are ready to set goals, try using the SMART goals system to help you be effective.


What are SMART goals?

SMART goal setting is one of the most popular goal-setting strategies used for project management and personal development. The concept was first proposed by George T. Doran in 1981 and published in an issue of Management Review. He suggested that all goals should be SMART, which stands for:

  • Specific: The goal should be as specific and precise as possible and briefly outline the action plan.
  • Measurable: The goal has to be measurable, and you have to decide what metrics you’ll use to measure it.
  • Achievable: The goal has to be attainable and realistic, so you have to assess your current situation and what percent of growth is realistic.
  • Relevant: The goal has to fit in with the bigger picture of your business and help you move closer to the direction you desire.
  • Timely: The goal has to have a start and end date, which will, in turn, encourage you to actively pursue it.


smart goals template

How to write a SMART goal

When you are writing your SMART objectives, remember what each letter in the acronym means, and break it down accordingly. Also, be prepared to answer a lot of questions to help you get clarity.

So, let’s break the SMART goal-setting process down one letter at a time:


The first step is to define what goal you want to achieve. It’s important to narrow down the focus of what you want to achieve and be as precise as possible. Sometimes we tend to be too broad with our goals, which leads to a lot of confusion when it’s time to break them down.

So, when you write your SMART goals, try answering these questions to help you narrow the initial goal down:

  • What do I want to achieve?
  • What skills and capabilities do I need to achieve this goal?
  • Why do I want to achieve this goal?

In this step, you want to be as specific as possible, really trying to define what you want to achieve. Here is an example:

  • Vague business goal: “I want to make more money.”
  • Specific business goal: “I want to sell 5% more online courses than I did last year.”


The next thing to consider when setting a goal is whether or not it’s measurable. Having a measurable goal will allow you to know whether or not you achieved it. It also helps you assess whether your strategies are working or not. And if you have team members, setting measurable goals will help you measure their performance.

So, figure out how you want to measure your business goals. Answering these might help you figure it out:

  • What metrics can I use to measure progress?
  • What metrics are in my control, and what metrics are not in my control?
  • How will I know that the objective has been achieved?

Numeral metrics work great to measure many different goals. If you are tracking growth or sales, then using percentages to set goals and measure progress is great. However, certain numeral metrics might not be the best way to measure business goals, like social media follower numbers.

These kinds of metrics are measurable, but they are often vanity numbers that have no real effect on your business growth. Yet, tracking these numbers might seem lucrative due to how easy it is. So, be cautious not to fall into these traps when measuring your goal achievement progress.


Having big dreams and aspirations is healthy, and even useful in some cases. When you dream big, you have better chances of achieving what you want because you believe anything is possible. However, when setting goals, especially short-term, it’s best to be realistic about how much you can achieve.

When weighing whether the goal you are setting is achievable, answer these questions:

  • Do I have the skills to achieve this goal currently?
  • If not, what skills do I need to develop?
  • How high does the goal seem to be compared with the growth of my business in the past year?
  • Do I feel like I’m capable of achieving this goal?

Looking at your business growth in the past can be a great way to help you find a reasonable, attainable goal for the future. For example: if you increased your online course sales by 10% last year, it’s realistic to set a goal of increasing sales by 15% next year.

There is always a chance that you might get lucky or go viral on social media, which would exceed all of your expectations for business growth. However, it’s always best to be smart about the expectations and your goals and keep them manageable with your current skill set. And if you exceed your own expectations, then it’s a sweet bonus!


Every goal you set should be directly tied to your overall business strategy, and it should be overall business goal specific, getting you closer to where you want your business to be. You want your goals to be impactful in a positive way and help you keep on track.

So, when setting your goals, answer these questions:

  • Why do I want to achieve this goal?
  • How does this goal fit in with the rest of my business strategy?
  • How does this goal help me pursue my vision?

You probably have a thousand business ideas swarming inside your mind, and all of them seem like good ideas. Your job here is to be very intentional with how you use those ideas to set goals and build a business that’s successful long-term.


Lastly, your goals should be time-bound. This is a small detail that’s easy to overlook, however, it’s one of the most crucial components of actually achieving the goals you set. Having a time limit gives you a sense of urgency, which encourages action. And, it also helps you track progress and success.

So, consider these questions:

  • What tasks do I need to finish to achieve this goal?
  • How long will it take for me or my team members to complete these tasks?
  • Can I achieve this goal before the set deadline?

Finding the right timeline for your goals can be challenging. If you give yourself too long, the goal loses its urgency, and if you don’t give enough time then you’ll be overly stressed. It’s a fine balance of finding the right time frame.

Most businesses operate in quarters. Three months or 90 days or 12 weeks is enough time to achieve progress without stress but still, keep the momentum. But of course, the right timeframe will depend on each goal individually.

SMART goal examples

If you’re still unsure of how to set SMART goals for your business, let’s do a quick walkthrough of two examples. We will take two common business goals you might want to set and then transform them into SMART goals.

welcome email

Example 1: I want to grow my email newsletter

This goal is a great business goal to have. However, it’s too vague to inspire or motivate you to act. Let’s break it down:

Specific: I want to grow my email newsletter by creating two lead magnets relevant to my target audience and using social media to promote them.

Measurable: I want to grow my email newsletter to 1,000 subscribers.

Achievable: With old lead magnets, my email newsletter gets 150 new leads every month. Because these new lead magnets are more in line with my audience’s needs and I’ll be promoting them on social media (10,000 followers combined across different channels), the goal is achievable.

Relevant: By growing my email newsletter, I’ll be able to build trust and a relationship with my audience, which in turn will drive more sales to my online course business.

Timely: I want to hit 1,000 in the next six months.

Your new SMART goal: In the next six months I want to grow my email newsletter to 1,000 subscribers by creating two new lead magnets and promoting them on my social media channels.

product launches

Example 2: I want to launch a new product for my digital shop

Wanting to launch a new digital product for your digital shop is a wonderful goal to have. However, to be effective, you need to be more specific with how you want to achieve it:

Specific: I want to create and launch an ebook in my digital shop as supplemental material to my main online course.

Measurable: Smaller milestones I need to complete before the release – outline the ebook, draft the material, edit the material, create a book cover, write marketing material, write a sales page, create marketing graphics, upload the ebook to the website, create a launch marketing plan.

Achievable: I will set aside five hours every week to work on this project and I’ll hire a professional editor and cover designer to help me with some of the tasks.

Relevant: This ebook is a great extension of the online course available and it will be a great offer to students who are enrolled in a course but want a more in-depth dive into the topic. It also serves as an entry-level product for my brand for the current audience who is hesitant to buy a course but wants to try my products.

Timely: I want to have the ebook ready for launch in six months.

Your new SMART goal: In the next six months I want to create and launch an ebook for my digital shop to serve as an additional offer for my current students and as an introductory low-price offer for new customers looking to try my business before committing to a larger purchase like an online course.

digital products to sell

Free SMART goals template

To help you get started with setting your SMART goals, we created a fillable SMART goal template. This editable SMART goal template will help you set SMART goals for your business with ease. And what’s great is that you can customize it to fit your needs better!

SMART goal-setting worksheet

To help you track your progress and assess if your SMART goals-setting strategies are working, we also created a SMART goal-setting worksheet to complement the template. SMART goal worksheets and templates are valuable tools to help you start setting goals, tracking progress and actually achieving the goals you set.

SMART goals FAQs

Let’s look at some of the most frequently asked questions people have about smart goals and answer them.

How can SMART goals help you?

SMART goals help you achieve your personal and business goals in a multitude of ways. Using this goal-setting strategy, you’re able to get clarity on what your goal should be and how it should look like.

If you’re using the SMART goals template to set your goals, you’ll have to really dig deep into what your goals are, why you need to achieve them, and lastly, how you can achieve them. Once you’re done setting the goals, you’ll have a very clear roadmap of how to achieve what you want.

Also, SMART goals allow you to keep your focus and motivation when achieving your goals. Because you know what your next step is, you can focus on execution. Having the SMART goal breakdown also allows you to see where exactly in your journey you are, so you can track progress and assess accordingly.

And lastly, SMART goals help you be efficient with your time. When you know where you are going and what you need to do to get there, you save a ton of time you’d otherwise spend trying to find a direction.

Are SMART goals effective?

SMART goals can be an extremely effective goal-setting strategy. Especially if you feel like you lack clarity and consistency and are new at setting goals. Using a tool like the SMART goals template can help you get on track with your business goals very efficiently.

What are the three W’s of goal setting?

The three W’s of goal setting are:

  • What: first and foremost, when setting goals you need to know what it is that you want to do and achieve, which helps you set the direction.
  • Why: to achieve your goals, business and personal, you need to know why you want to achieve those goals, which helps you stay motivated.
  • Who: lastly, you need to assess who you need to be to achieve those goals, which helps you break down your goals into smaller steps.

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