How to set SMART goals: a guide for accountants and bookkeepers
Setting achievable goals is a vital part of running a successful accounting or bookkeeping business. Whether you want to grow your practice, improve your processes or set more time aside for personal development, a well-structured plan will help you get there. Here’s how using the SMART framework can help your practice achieve its objectives.
What are SMART goals?
SMART is an acronym that you can use to help guide your goal-setting. By using the SMART framework, you can turn vague targets into defined goals with clear actions.
SMART stands for:
By ensuring your objectives have these five characteristics, you’re more likely to stay focused and achieve your business’s goals.
How to set SMART goals for your practice
It can be difficult to know where to start when establishing new goals and objectives for your practice. Here are some things to think about when using the SMART framework.
When writing SMART goals, it’s important to use specific wording to give you direction. “Grow my practice” lacks clarity and focus. Instead, think about what areas of the practice you’d like to grow and how you might do this.
For example, “I want to grow my practice by increasing the number of leads we generate each month” gives a better indication of how you will focus your efforts to achieve your desired outcome.
It’s important that your goal is measurable so that you can determine when you’ve reached your target. Many practices want to grow their client base, for example, but without a measurable target, it’s difficult to track your progress and stay motivated. Assigning your goal a number you can measure will help you meet deadlines and keep you focused.
Goals are designed to help us reach milestones and exceed targets, but it’s important that they are within your business’ capabilities. Setting your sights too high can lead to a lack of momentum or a misallocation of resources. To help keep your goal attainable, think about what’s achievable within the current market, your desired time frame and your budget.
While a goal should have a specific focus, it’s important that it supports your overall practice strategy. Think about why you’re setting this goal and how it ties back to business impact. If your goal doesn’t align with your strategy, think about how you could change or adjust it to make it relevant to your practice.
Finally, it’s important that your goals have a deadline. Time frames give you something to work towards and will help you stay on track. If relevant, map out a timeline for reaching your goal - use key milestones or establish check-ins to keep you motivated and on the right path.
How to achieve your business’s goals
Many businesses have ambitious goals that have a long-term outlook - increasing your practice’s revenue or doubling your client base is unlikely to happen overnight. The key is to create a roadmap that will lay out the steps you need to take.
Start by breaking down your long-term goal into smaller, short-term goals. For example, if your goal is to increase your practice’s revenue by 20% over a two-year period, then your supporting goals could be to:
These smaller goals are easier to digest, allowing you to create distinct, measurable and action-oriented tasks to get you started. Just remember to keep these goals SMART too!