The Dilemma of Solopreneurship

The practice of using the SMART methodology for objective setting traces its roots to the 1950’s. It spread rapidly through the corporate world. If you’re a solopreneur – don’t ditch it too quickly.

Let’s start with a quick refresher on SMART objective definitions.

S: Specific

M: Measurable

A: Achievable

R: Relevant

T: Time-Bound

These were typically used in a company’s performance evaluation system. If you’re a solopreneur or side hustler, how do you set goals and objectives for yourself? Do you have a formal process? Who will hold you accountable?

When you exited the corporate world, you probably intended to ditch all that bureaucracy that bogged down your work. That’s what I did.  Now, I’m going back and leveraging the basic concepts to my advantage.

Now, I’m going back and leveraging the basic concepts to my advantage.

Big Picture Planning

Whatever your gig, you’ve probably created a plan: in a project management app, spreadsheet, text document, or maybe it was just a checklist on the back of a napkin.

You’ve got an ultimate high-level Goal and a series of Objectives designed to lead to that goal.   Have you skipped the part where you perform a SMART analysis on that Goal and each of the Objectives?

Who’s Your Boss Now?

In the corporate world, SMART processes served multiple purposes.

Improved Performance

Transparent Accountability

Office Politics and Gamesmanship

In the Gamesmanship category, I always tried to sandbag my Objectives. I wanted to make it as easy as possible to dramatically exceed the metrics. My bosses usually imposed the opposite perspective. The metric for simply “meeting” the Objective required a Herculean effort.

If you’re thinking about exceeding an objective – forget about it.

How is SMART Different for the Solopreneur

You need to use the SMART process to get real and make it work for you not against you.

For starters, you don’t need to be playing any games with yourself. You need to use the process in a way that boosts your results.

This starts by actually documenting your analysis.  I’ll even provide you with a link to a SMART Objectives Template at the end of this post (including SMART Objectives Examples).

Specific: This may be the easiest part. Don’t write a novel and don’t be too cryptic. Simply describe the objective with enough detail that will make sense—even if you put the project aside for 90 days and start up again.

Measurable: Decide what metrics apply, such as leads, sales, downloads, reviews, testimonials, etc. If you run into difficulty, you may need to go back and add more detail to your description in the Specific section.

Achievable: Now things start to get harder. This is where you decide if the Objective is realistic. For the Goal at the end of your plan, this is a really hard call.  But, when you break down the plan into smaller and smaller pieces, the assessment of “achievable” for a small Objective becomes increasingly easy. This is a great argument for actually creating a plan.

Relevant: In a corporation, this was used to make sure everyone’s objectives aligned with the corporate values and visions. Does it have any relevance now that you’re in the solopreneurship model? Yes. It very easy to fall into a pattern of spending time on things that don’t relate to your ultimate goal.

Time-Bound: This may be the easiest and the hardest part. It’s easy because you’re simply putting a date on completing the work. That only takes about 3 seconds. The hard part is knowing what date to enter. If you’ve done your work in the Achievable section, you should already have a date.

When you finish, this isn’t a commitment to your boss or your corporation. This is a commitment to yourself and your journey to solopreneurship independence.

You must treat every aspect of the SMART process thoroughly and honestly. There’s nothing to gain my wild-eyed optimism, lying to yourself or gaming the process.

Need More?

If you would like to get a SMART Objectives Template, simply follow the link below and I’ll send you an email to gain access.  I’ll also provide a SMART Objectives Example and a Tip Sheet.

SMART Objectives Template

You may also receive an occasional email with insights on improving performance in your solopreneurship journey.

Need to Customize?

Different organizations (and solopreneurs) have tweaked the meaning of the acronym. Here are a few of the variations. SMART Objectives Definitions. 

If you are using the SMART methodology and believe a new definition serves a better purpose, go for it.