CEOs & Founders

SMART goals – a senior product manager tells you all you need to know

SMART goals – a senior product manager tells you all you need to know

Setting goals has been a significant part of my career, but it hasn’t always been easy. In fact, it has sometimes been so challenging that I had to rethink my entire approach to it.

When I first joined Charlie, I knew we had a lot of work to do in our product function. So, to clear my head and become laser-focused on solutions rather than problems, I revisited an old method called SMART goals.

But what exactly are SMART goals? If you’ve heard about them, as a CEO or manager, you may be wondering how to implement them.

In this blog, I’ll share answers to your most common questions, examples of how we use SMART goals at Charlie, as well as our own free template. Read on.

What are SMART goals? 

SMART goals are a goal-setting method that allows businesses and teams to define clear, realistic, and achievable goals.

Teams often struggle with setting concrete goals that are in line with business objectives. That’s where the SMART framework comes in handy for defining them.

What does the SMART goals acronym stand for? 

SMART goals stand for the following: 

  • Specific – The goal is clear and concrete so that all team members understand its purpose.
  • Measurable – The goal can be quantified using concrete data and is not solely reliant on 'vanity' metrics.
  • Attainable – The goal is not entirely unrealistic but remains challenging enough to encourage everyone to give their best to achieve it.
  • Relevant – The goal aligns with other business metrics and overall objectives.
  • Timely – The goal must be achieved within a certain timeframe, providing everyone with a clear objective to work towards and holding them accountable.
smart goals acronym

Examples of SMART goals and each of its components

Here, I’ve taken a specific example used by our marketing team at Charlie – I will highlight each component of our SMART goal so you can understand how to build your own. 

Specific goals 

The first aspect of SMART goals is to establish a specific objective. This should be easily comprehensible to all involved, and be used as their guiding star throughout the project. It should be concrete and contain enough detail so that it’s not vague. 

Example from Charlie’s marketing team: We want to increase our organic traffic by 40% from the current results in the next 6 months by publishing 15 blogs per month.      

Measurable goals 

Measuring goals is important to ensure they align with the overall business strategy, but it can sometimes be challenging – which metrics should you use? It really depends on what your business is trying to achieve and what your team can do to help it get there. 

A common sales metric, and quite a straightforward one, is to set a monthly revenue target based on the number of customers acquired and the size of the deals.

Example from Charlie’s marketing team: We want to increase our organic traffic by 40% from the current results in the next 6 months by publishing 15 blogs per month.   

Attainable goals 

Sometimes, it’s tempting to set goals that are difficult to reach, but when you fail to reach them due to a lack of resources, your team feels demotivated and like they’ll never be able to ever reach that goal. 

My advice on this is to set goals that are attainable while maintaining a medium amount of challenge. 

This will not be reflected in the wording of your goal, but it will have to be compared with what you’ve achieved in the past and the current resources you have. 

Relevant goals 

When you work at a startup or small business, you usually have a lot of creative people with tons of ideas in the room, so it can be difficult to stay focused on one

Although people will have a lot of opinions, it’s essential to stay focused and follow through on goals that align with business objectives.

For example, if we have a business goal of increasing our customer database by 50% in two years, we want to ensure that all departmental goals align with that objective.

Consider how marketing can contribute to awareness, how product improvements can be made to address customer needs and preferences, and why potential customers choose competitors over us, among other factors. 

Timely goals 

Although deadlines can be stressful, it’s pretty much guaranteed that without setting deadlines for the work your team does, they’ll never finish it.

A good idea is to set a deadline for the goals to measure progress against the target.

One way to do this, for example, is to have both longer-term projects and shorter-term projects. You can then determine whether achieving the goal is feasible within six months or less.

For instance, in a development function, changing the way a page responds to users can take a few weeks. A good way to challenge the team to achieve it on time is to ensure you set a deadline instead of leaving it open-ended.

Example from Charlie’s marketing team: We want to increase our organic traffic by 40% from the current results in the next 6 months by publishing 15 blogs per month. 

3 reasons that make SMART goals essential to your small business

At Charlie, we want our team members to be accountable for the work they do. This doesn’t mean putting the blame on someone if a mistake is made, but taking ownership of projects so they’re completed on time, making adjustments as you go along, and seeking help if you need it.

SMART goals help team members contribute to business goals, and it’s an important aspect of how and why we decide to give someone a promotion, for example, as business impact is part of our progression framework.

All in all, we think there are many reasons why SMART goals are essential to our business and could be to yours – below, you’ll find the three reasons I shortlisted. 

1.They give your team purpose and help them trust their leaders

There’s nothing worse than a team that lacks purpose. With SMART goals giving them a definition of what they need to achieve and a timeline, it’s less likely your team will reroute towards something else.

Giving people a purpose is also a good way of encouraging teamwork, and making sure you retain your team members by showing them you have a clear plan towards success. 

2.They help you push for results without micromanaging 

Give smart people a challenge, and you will see results. Human beings are not meant to sit around waiting to be told what to do. They need their brains to work hard, and if you trust your team members to come up with solutions after you define clear problems, they’ll do it for sure. 

If you don’t, people will likely feel frustrated at the lack of structure and end up giving up. 

3.They give your company structure

Finally, having a process like SMART goals in place gives your company direction – people will use that framework to solve most of their problems.

It ensures you have an organised workforce who thinks of smart ways to do the work and invests effort in the right places, instead of trying to do everything all at once and burning themselves out. 

Free SMART goals template 

Feel free to download our worksheet below or simply copy and paste it. 

Download our SMART goals worksheet.webp

Main goal

Find a simple way to describe what is the goal you want to set and what you’d like to achieve. Once you’ve done this, this will be your starting point to refine it below. 


  • How can you make your goal more specific? Is the wording clear? 
  • Do you need other people from your team or outside your team to work towards this goal? 
  • What are the specific tactics you will use to reach that goal? 

Goal “I want to improve our SEO performance”

SMART goal “I want to bring 50% more organic traffic to the website by the end of 2024 by publishing 20 blogs per month.” 


  • How can you measure your goal’s success? 
  • Do you have specific metrics you can follow to measure improvement and see if you’ve reached your target? 

Goal “I want to make our customer experience better”

SMART goal “I want to improve our customer satisfaction results by tracking satisfaction results surveys and aim for a 20% improvement by the end of 2024.” 


  • Which resources are available right now? 
  • What progress have you made so far? 
  • Do you think you have the skills or can you acquire the skills? How long will that take? 

Goal “I want to improve the company’s revenue by 50% in 3 months.”

SMART goal “I want to improve the company’s revenue by 30% by the end of 2024 by improving our cold calling strategy with 2 additional hires.” 


  • What does the company want to achieve this year and in the future? 
  • Does your goal align with these perspectives? 
  • Do you feel like you can attach your goal to what the company wants to do? 

Goal “I want to build a completely new feature to our product.” 

SMART goal “I want to improve an existing feature we already have to improve retention by 20% in the next 6 months.” 


  • How much time do you have? How long will it take? 
  • What’s the urgency on this? 
  • Does the company expect results quickly? 

Goal “We want to rebuild our entire product by the end of 2025”,

SMART goal  “We want to improve our time off management feature by adding a timesheets feature by the end 2025 and increase our customer acquisition by 20%.”

And perhaps SMART goals are just the first step towards structuring your company’s processes. At Charlie, we used SMART goals to improve our HR software as well – so that we can help small businesses and startups scale up their HR. 

If you’d like to see what that looks like, you can take a free 7-day trial today – no credit card required. 

Click here to start a free trial

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