You’re Not Perfect, but Are You SMART-er Than the Average Entrepreneur?

March 15, 2012

So, you’re back. That must mean I didn’t hurt your feelings too badly with my last post. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, feel free to take a few minutes to read this and come back.


Yes folks, I said something that you all needed to hear: You’re imperfect, and that’s never going to change.


But here’s the good news: There’s nothing wrong with imperfection. In fact, as I wrote in that previous post, perfection is a business mirage we’ve created in our heads. And the lemmings searching for that utopic end destination will ultimately wander the proverbial desert looking for an oasis that doesn’t exist.

Meanwhile, the smartest and most efficient entrepreneurs focus on the things they can achieve, honing in on attainable short and long-term goals that allow them to quickly pivot, experiment, and thrive when opportunities present themselves.



In other words, they set really good SMART goals and achieve them.


Haven’t heard of SMART goals or forget what the acronym stands for? Here’s a quick refresher:


  • Specific: What and why do you want to accomplish something?
  • Measureable: How will you know if/when you’ve accomplished your goal?
  • Attainable: Do you really have the skills and resources to achieve a particular goal?
  • Relevant: Will the goal really impact your business or its target customer?
  • Timely: Can you set a specific timeframe to accomplish the goal and realistically achieve it?


Generally speaking, the SMART goal concept requires creativity, strategic thinking, and technical skills, mixed in with experience, attention to detail, and effort. You want to determine what really matters to you, prioritize those things, and leverage your resources (people, time, and money) as to go after them. Doing that represents true efficiency and goal orientation, which produce behavior and results that are as close to perfect as you can ever realistically hope to achieve.


Of course, if that were as easy to do as it was for me to write that last paragraph, you wouldn’t be reading this blog post.


The truth is that setting SMART goals and following through with them requires discipline. But not in the context you might expect. Discipline sometimes means sometimes ignoring the things that don’t matter, even if the collective masses are telling you they do.


For example, let’s say you have a marketing manager that’s hell bent on being a social media all-star on every channel that exists. With the recent explosion of Pinterest, that employee is probably spending an inordinate amount of time playing around with it, attempting to build the perfect Pinterest presence.


Here’s the problem with that: Maybe Pinterest isn’t right for your business.

Taking it back to SMART goals, are you sure that Pinterest can really provide a medium for customer engagement that will allow you to achieve specific, measurable goals? Or are you jumping aboard a bandwagon that might take you in the wrong direction entirely, diluting your team’s focus and absorbing precious time that could be spent on more impactful initiatives?



You could ask that question more generally about almost every other component of your business. And unless you’re sure that the things your team is working on will accomplish specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely goals – encouraging efficient execution, rather than time-consuming perfectionism – why the hell are you doing them at all?


So, take a step back, look at what really matters to your business, and then set SMART goals that drive your business forward. That will keep your team focused and aligned to your business’ mission, vision, and values, and create a higher probability of success in both the short and long-term. What company doesn’t want that?


OK, now it’s your turn. How have SMART goals helped you stay on track? Or, more importantly, do you think perfection actually exists in business and that you’ve achieved it? I’d love to hear your argument…

SVP Marketing & Sales

<strong>Brian Zimmerman</strong> was a Partner at OpenView from 2006 until 2014. While at OpenView he worked with our portfolio executive teams to deliver the highest impact value-add consulting services, primarily focused on go-to-market strategies. Brian is currently the Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at <a href="">5Nine Software</a>.