SMART and SWOT – Two Ways to Stay Focused

Large corporations often use academic style tools to improve their processes and it should be even more important to small businesses. These big companies have such a large pool of customers and opportunities that there is actually greater room for error without noticeable effect and yet, large corporations are far more inclined to fine tune through analytics than small businesses are. Let’s face it, small business owners are time strapped and often too busy just trying to tread water, especially in tougher economic times. So let me remind you of some little things that you can do that will help you and your employees regain focus.

Most all motivational speakers and self help experts emphasize the idea that goal setting is critical to achieving success. It helps you focus your efforts and, focus after all, is a key ingredient to success. This is where SMART goals come in. But, before we look at SMART goals, let’s take a look at another acronym, SWOT analysis. The reason is that doing a SWOT analysis is a great way to think about discovering and framing your goals. The SWOT analysis is a way of examining where your company is functioning at a specific time.

It allows you to view your strengths weaknesses opportunities and threats at a specific moment in time and, then, you can build your goals around further development of your strengths, ways to overcome your weaknesses, becoming strategically aware of your opportunities, and thinking about how to minimize your threats. A SWOT analysis can easily be set out in a four cube matrix. In the upper quadrants you list your strengths and weaknesses and in the lower two quadrants you list your opportunities and threats. Once you have analyzed the situation and have a clear understanding of it, you can then begin to formulate your goals.

This is where SMART goals kick in for you. The acronym stands for goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and, time framed. In other words, these are goals that will cause a change if met and, further to the point, they are goals that can be met. First, they should be specifically designed to improve on the situation as lined out in your SWOT analysis. They should be goals that specifically deal with each of the four quadrants.

Secondly, they should be goals that you can measure, a certain number of new customers, or a goal of additional revenue. Next they must be achievable that is, goals that you can really achieve and then they must also be realistic; in other words, goals that you are likely to achieve if you apply yourself to them. Finally, they must be goals that have a deadline; goals achieved within a specific time frame.

Now that you have done this exercise, it is important that you make sure that every employee is aware of their part in achieving these goals. The more they buy into the idea the more likely you are to achieve the success you want.


SWOT analysis






SMART goals




Realistic and Relevant

Time Bound.

I suggest that you continue with these tools all the time. What I mean is always keep them available to look at and measure with. Likewise, it is important to update them periodically to be sure that the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and, threats have not changed. As markets and competition changes these things can change over time. It would be prudent to change your goals to meet any changes in your SWOT analysis.