- What Is A Short-Term Goal?
- What Are The Benefits Of Short-Term Goals?
- How Do I Measure Progress On Short-Term Goals?
Q: Why is it important for small businesses to set short term goals?
A: Small businesses often forget to set short term, measurable goals; however, these are vital in growing your business, measuring performance, and ultimately making the business successful.
That has long been the mantra for those with an entrepreneurial spirit.
Starting a small business, getting it off the ground, while simultaneously standing apart from competitors is no easy feat. That’s why business leaders often want to reach for the stars and set goals higher than imaginable.
But where do short-term goals for a business fit into the picture?
Yes, running a small business does require a can-do attitude, but without looking at the smaller, more achievable goals, companies can risk losing their way on their journey to success.
Big picture goals shouldn’t be ignored by any means, but in order to reach those objectives, leaders need to focus on the minute details that truly set a business apart from others.
Think of setting short-term goals as the stepping stones used towards achieving long-term objectives.
What Is Short-Term Goal Setting?
Short-term goals are achievements that focus on the immediate future and help contribute to completing long-term goals.
These types of goals are typically meant to be accomplished daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly.
When setting a short-term goal, you should always keep the SMART methodology in mind:
Incorporating all of these attributes when creating a set of short-term goals ensures that your business stays on track, rather than getting lost in the muddled dreams of elaborate achievements.
Let’s look deeper into what SMART goals really mean.
One of the biggest differentiators between long-term and short-term financial goals is the specificity of each objective.
Long-term goals usually look at the big picture are generally more ambiguous, especially in terms of how to achieve the company’s initiatives.
On the other hand, short-term goals for a business require very specific, detailed steps that outline the process from start to finish in order to be completed.
If your small business’ long-term goal is to double profits over the next three years, you will need actionable strategies that will help you increase your profits.
This means outlining specific measures that will be needed to reach this target each day, week, and month. Without creating strategies for incremental growth, elaborate goals can quickly become a fantasy.
Additionally, among the most important aspects of short-term goals your business should incorporate is that they should be attainable and realistic.
Doing so makes it easier for both you and your workers to stay motivated on your path to accomplishing your grander business plans, without feeling overwhelmed by the tasks at hand.
And motivated employees are the key to high retention rates and a well-oiled company.
In fact, a survey by The Corporate Leadership Council of 5,000 motivated employees are 87% less likely to resign.
In tandem with the SMART methodology, you should also be aware of the three types of business goals:
- These include the method in which you complete an objective. These types of goals are completely controllable by workers.
- These are determined and distributed depending on a workers’ specific position
- These are the desired end-results, but are harder to control due to being influenced by external factors
Overall, the purpose of short-term goals is to provide momentum for businesses and instill a sense of motivation into your workforce when trying to reach larger goals.
What Are the Benefits of Short-term Goals for Small Businesses?
While it may seem redundant to set small, achievable goals, these objectives are actually essential to the operations of a small business looking to for growth.
As opposed to long-term goals, which are often lofty and drawn out, setting short-term goals:
- Motivates workers
- Sets time limitations
- Provides immediate feedback
- Builds momentum
Motivation and engagement in the workplace is essential, and by setting goals that are within reach can encourage employees to accomplish tasks faster.
In fact, a Gallup poll shows that highly engaged businesses can lead to 21% greater profitability.
Knowing this, it is safe to say that the impact that short-term goals for a business have on an employees’ attitudes directly correlates with company performance.
And if the past year has taught business leaders anything, it’s that engagement levels are a reflection of workers’ sentiment towards their employer and how much effort they are willing to put into everyday tasks.
Because smaller goals are time-limited, workers also realize they are restricted in how long they have to complete projects and are more likely to take action immediately.
Since many workers are deadline-driven, providing them with smaller goals within a reasonable timeline makes it more likely for them to be completed.
However, it’s important to make these deadlines reasonable, as research has found that workers will reach burnout in order to meet deadline goals.
Even more, receiving immediate feedback from these goals allows business leaders to know whether their efforts are working, and which ones may need to be adjusted to enhance performance.
Getting a detailed look into what works and what doesn’t will make it easier for leaders to make changes to their strategies, or continue doing what they are doing.
Setting short-term goals isn’t just a means of accomplishing small tasks and calling them wins — they are necessary for small business owners looking for a consistent path to growth.
What Makes A Good Short-Term Goal?
We’ve briefly covered what makes the optimal short-term goal and how the SMART methodology should be incorporated, but let’s dive into what each letter means.
When creating an objective that is intended to be specific, it’s important to ask yourself the 5 W questions:
- Who can help accomplish the goal?
- What goal am I trying to accomplish?
- Where will this goal lead the company?
- Which tools or resources will I need to accomplish this goal?
- Why am I trying to accomplish this goal?
Once you’re able to answer these questions, creating a specific short-term goal will come much easier for you.
When determining whether these goals are measurable, you should focus on concrete data.
For instance, if your company wants to reach a specific readership count by the end of the year, you will need to determine how much more writing is required to meet this number.
Next, while it’s very easy to get lost in the idealistic view of being a small business owner and the fulfillment it brings, you can only attain this success by giving you and your employees achievable goals.
This means setting attainable goals that still require hard work, while being prepared to face the potential obstacles that could prevent you from succeeding.
Although it also might be tempting to set countless small goals, it’s more important to identify the most realistic objectives that will help you reach your end goal.
But how do you know if your goal is realistic? Ask yourself the following:
- Does this goal align with our company’s needs?
- Is the outcome worthwhile?
- Will this be achievable in the current socio-economic climate?
- Am I choosing the right time to work towards this goal?
If your answer is “yes” to all of these questions, then it’s safe to say you’ve set a relevant short-term objective for your company.
Lastly, setting a deadline for each goal will play an important role in how well and when it gets accomplished.
Think about this:
Having a specific date that a goal should be completed by gives workers a better idea of how they should prioritize their every day work, and keeps them from being distracted by less-important tasks.
Setting a time-based goal means understanding what is reasonable.
While short-term goals for a business should not take incredibly long, ask yourself, “Can this be done today? How about this week? Or will I need at least one full month to ensure this is done correctly?”
Tight deadlines are often associated with high stress, but if set within reason, can actually help improve productivity.
With less time allotted to complete a goal, workers have no choice but to hunker down, reach out to their colleagues for inventive brain-storming sessions, and finish the task at hand.
And if your workers need a meeting room or office to meet their short-term aims for your business, Alliance Virtual Offices provides affordable, fully-equipped spaces that are easy to book.
Keep in mind!
It’s incredibly important to remember that tight deadlines shouldn’t be dished out haphazardly.
If this approach is abused, workers risk sacrificing their creativity, experiencing more work-related stress, and the company could undermine customer confidence if the deadline cannot be met.
Still, you want to allow yourself an appropriate amount of time to complete such a goal to ensure that it is not only completed, but that it is completed exceptionally. Otherwise you risk hindering workplace morale and motivation, which could lead to employee burnout.
Tracking Progress Towards Short-term Goals
So how do you determine whether your company is meeting its short-term goals? Is there a way to tangibly measure and track progress?
In short, yes. But this will require clearly defined outcomes.
While it may be tempting to set a goal of “increasing profits” (Who wouldn’t want to accomplish this goal?), it’s vital to give a more detailed description of the goal.
Instead, make it a goal to increase profits by 20% during a specified amount of time.
Having specifics attached to each goal makes it easier for you to objectively assess whether progress is being made.
So in order to track the progress of each short-term objective for your business, think about incorporating the following to make measuring easier:
- Conduct internal research about spending habits, customer service statistics, etc.
- Identify Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
- This type of data helps businesses chart their successes and profits as they are accomplished
- Use collaborative platforms
- Employees should utilize platforms, such as Asana, to assign tasks that help them understand precisely what needs to be done before moving onto the next short-term goal
- Stay agile
- Not every objective will be a million-dollar idea, so leaders should be prepared to adjust or alter how to meet goals in the most optimal way
Keeping all of these factors in mind gives you a physical representation of what strategies should be implemented and allows employees to stay in the loop on any progress that is being made.
From there, you can log each factor that contributes to the specific goal being met. By doing this, you can physically see which strategic methods are best suited to contribute to your business’ objectives and which may need to be tweaked or scrapped altogether.
One thing to note is that short-term goals should be viewed against the ongoing trends your business already had before the goal was set.
For instance, if you were already seeing a growth in social media follower count, it could be that a new advertising campaign is not contributing to that continuous increase. Making these observations can actually help your company improve its goal-setting in the future, and set you up for real success.
Simply put, you need a concise image of your company’s progress in reaching its goals, both short-term and long-term.
The Stepping Stones To Success
There’s no issue with dreaming big and trying to make certain your business grows to be prosperous and competitive.
But looking at the big picture is just the first step.
Think of your company as a train, and your long-term goal being the end destination.
In order to get there, you’ll need fuel that powers the locomotive. That’s where short-term goals come in.
Small businesses are especially in need of this type of fuel. Without it, it’s extremely easy to get lost in the vague, ambiguous dreams of being the best company within your industry.
Substance is vital here.
That’s why incorporating short-term goals is vital for small business growth.
By creating specific, time-based objectives, you and your workers can receive immediate and valuable feedback on your current practices.
Doing so not only shows that you are truly committed to the big picture stuff, but that your company wants to offer its best services to customers and a fulfilling work experience for employees.
But don’t be threatened by the idea of creating several, smaller tasks to achieve your larger dreams.
Recognizing small achievements will reveal just how capable you and your employees are, and allow you to set increasingly challenging steps to achieve the end-goal.
So whether that means incrementally growing sales by incrementally each month, or boosting your audience engagement each week, all short-term goals share one purpose:
To help small businesses thrive and flourish.