Tips for Setting (and Achieving) Goals for Your Advisory Business

By Danielle Petrullo, Marketing Associate

It is important to assess your current business situation in order to determine where you can improve. Take a look at the previous year and identify what worked well for your firm, and more importantly, what did not work so well. This will help create clarity, present learning opportunities, identify areas that need improvement, and help you build a foundation to make smart business decisions.

Now that you have all of this information, what’s next? Set your goals!

A simple process for setting goals is thinking in terms of being SMART. Set goals that are:

S – Specific. Define exactly what it is you are going to achieve, and when. Be as detailed as possible.

M – Measurable. How will you know when your goal is achieved? Choose a goal that is measurable, or add criteria that will allow for measuring progress.

A – Achievable. Is your goal feasible? If your goal is long-term or a larger goal, identify smaller steps of achievement along the way.

R – Relevant. What is the bigger picture and how does your goal fit into the overall mission and vision of your advisory firm? Make sure your goal has importance and is relevant to the firm’s success.

T – Timely. Establish a timeframe for your goal, with a clear beginning and end.

What can SMART Goals Do for Your Business?

Setting SMART goals can help you evaluate the goals you wish to set, think about whether or not they are realistic, and keep you and your staff accountable for achieving them. Afterall, having clear, well-defined goals can:

  • Help your business grow
  • Assist you in achieving your objectives
  • Improve teamwork and collaboration
  • Ensure everyone understands the direction of your business

Let’s first take a look at some SMART, and some not-so-smart goals:

Not-so-smart Goal:

I want to grow my business. This may be a good starting place for a SMART goal, but it is not easily defined or measurable, and therefore it would be difficult to develop a plan for achievement.


I want to bring in 5 new clients this year that each have over 1M in investable assets. I will achieve this by creating a client advisory board made up of my top clients and ask them each to help me reach this goal. Now we have a clearly defined goal with action steps and a timeframe.

Not-so-smart Goal:

I want to work smarter. Again, this is an admirable endeavor but contains no context for measurement or the rationale behind the effort.


I need to improve efficiencies in my office. I will implement new technology by the 3rd quarter to assist my office staff in standardizing and automating common processes. This goal now has an actionable strategy and timeline, with more context: automating processes.

Stating Your Goals is Just the Beginning

Once you have your SMART goals, how will you make sure they are accomplished? The key to achieving your goals is not just stating them and being specific. It is tracking their progress. For this reason, I propose you set up monthly meetings with all key stakeholders in your practice that are relevant to helping you achieve your goals. Being held accountable to execute is half the battle and will ensure proper action is taking place. Otherwise, day-to-day activities get in the way of implementation. Make sure to measure and adjust as you work to accomplish your goals. Making an adjustment is not failure; it’s much better than allowing things to get off track or worse, never get started.

If you find yourself unable to set a SMART goal, it is usually because that your future plans are not clear enough and you need to do more work to clarify exactly where you want to go within a set time period. Don’t try to skip the process of SMART goal setting and just “go for it” without analyzing your goals and matching them to the vision of your advisory business.

After all, you know what they say: “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”

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