Setting S.M.A.R.T. Goals

With the year’s end around the corner, it’s time to take stock of everything you accomplished in 2010 and set new goals for 2011. At the beginning of each year, I write out at least three ‘big’ goals (professionally and personally) – something that has been proven to be a huge help when focusing my priorities.

The S.M.A.R.T. method is an effective way to help you set inspiring and achievable goals for the next year.

Specific: If you don’t know whether your goal has been completed or not, it’s not specific enough. The goal must be concise, tangible and simple. It should explain what you want to achieve in simple language – so that anyone else would be able to see your goal and immediately understand it. For example, “Find happiness” is not a very specific goal – but “find a boyfriend/life partner” is.

Measurable: Your goal should be measurable, so determine the numbers that are important to you! For example, “Exercise a lot” is not a goal. “Go to the gym 3x per week” or “Average 30 sales per month” are measurable targets you can benchmark and compare your results against throughout the year.

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The Google “Proof”: Entrepreneurs Make the World a Happy Place

Key to every successful business website is having the right product to sell at the right moment in time. A good source of intelligence about what is hot and what is not is Google Trends.

For those that don’t know, Google Trends provides a tremendous amount of data about people, products, or concepts. Want to know what is going to be the hot seller? Ask Google. As noted in this blog, “search volume data (how much people are searching for a keyword or term at a point in time) is a great measure of how interested people are in a particular topic over any given time period.”

At, we use Google Trends for a couple of different things, including search engine optimization and PPC research. However, in looking at Google Trends the other day, we noticed an interesting correlation that “scientifically” proves what we’ve been maintaining for the past 10 years: Entrepreneurs Make the World a Happier Place.

Well scientifically proven may be a bit of a stretch, but we thought we would share our observations:

Our search started with the concept of “happy” (see below for the trend report since 2004). The concept of “happy” ebbs and flows around the holidays, in large part to “Happy New Year” and “Happy Holidays” no doubt. But what piqued our curiosity was the relative volume of news mentions at the end of 2007 and the start of 2008… mentions that have been increasing relatively constantly since that time.


This chart surprised us a little. After all, aren’t we still in the midst of a recession? Isn’t it all a doom-and-gloom, the sky is falling, run for the hills, depressing kind of world that we live in right now? Why is ‘happy’ trending upwards?

Take a look at the keyword concept “recession” to see both the massive spike in the volume of search surrounding the concept as well as the mentions in news. Yep… the recession is in full swing (though interestingly it is on a downward trend).


Given this increase in “happy” in the midst of a recession, we asked ourselves, “What makes us happy?” Responses came from across the company: customers, success stories, getting a product out the door, selling. In other words, what makes us happy is winning.

So we ran the “win” and “lose” search concepts through Google Trends and here are the results:


Six years ago, “win” was searched for with much greater regularity than “lose”. In fact, “lose” has recently overtaken “win” for the first time in Google Trend history. But the same uptick occurs for news mentions, correlating to the increase in happy. We guess it stands to reason, that news mentions about winners might happen to mention that the winners are happy.

So was this the answer, or was there something deeper? We dug into things further with a few search concepts that are dear to our hearts: the life of the entrepreneur. of course is passionate about entrepreneurism as evident by our homepreneur contests, our entrepreneur spirit days, and our website builder that speaks to early-stage entrepreneurs.

We started with a simple search for “small business” (see below). And there was our first “ah-ha”, the same uptick at the end of 2007 and start of 2008. What was interesting is that this uptick also corresponds well to the searches around “recession” and recessionary concepts. Captain Obvious might state that if people are worried about the economy and losing jobs, they might very well consider starting a small business of their own.


What happens when you search for the concept “entrepreneur” and “self employed” within Google Trends? You see the same spike in mentions in the news and you see a rolling average increase in the total number of searches.



So, in our opinion, this proves what most entrepreneurs and small businesses know intrinsically: when you are an entrepreneur and running your own business, happiness is often a result.

Do you agree? Are entrepreneurs happier than most? Let us know in the comments below.

Written by John Lyotier, VP of Marketing at and avid reader of stats, charts, and graphs.