Becoming more profitable

Long-term goals and short-term objectives

Long-term goals and short-term objectives complement and support each other and are critical strategies for your business’ success.

It's impossible to achieve your long-term goals (what you want the future for the business to be) without achieving your short-term goals (the detailed actions behind the big plan). Neither can exist in isolation.

Developing business goals and objectives involves considerable introspection into what makes your business tick, and what you want its future to be.

Long-term goals can be likened to a vacation destination, and the related short-term objectives you establish afterwards act as a road map for getting there.

How do you ensure your short and long-term goals complement each other?

1. Start with determining your long-term business goals

Your long-term goals and objectives should have a timeline of about three to five years.

They should articulate your company's mission statement, reflecting the reason your company was founded. They are visionary and usually fall within four general areas:

  • Service: goals related to improving customer service satisfaction or customer retention.

  • Social: goals that focus on giving back to the community, for example through philanthropy or volunteer organisations.

  • Profit: goals set to increase profits by a certain percentage.

  • Growth: goals related to the expansion of the company through new employees, for instance.

2. Establish your short-term business objectives

Once you've determined what you want for the business in the long term, you need to work out how to get there. The best way to think about your short-term objectives for accomplishing your long-term goals is to make them SMART goals. For details on these strategies, review our guide on setting long-term and short-term goals.

3. Understand what the long-term goal means on a daily basis

Aim to establish the goal at its most fundamental level during the planning process. If you want to increase sales annually by 24%, how many new customers or orders a day does that represent? This is your short-term objective.

4. Tie your short-term objectives into your long-term goals

You've already identified the long-term goals, so it's easier to see how focusing on seemingly small details can be a step toward achieving a broader long-term aim.

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5. Implement a much narrower timeline for short-term objectives

Increasing sales 24% a year is a pretty big number, but increasing sales say, 2% each month, seems more doable.

Create goals that are one year out, six months out, and monthly. Your first-year goals should be based on your ultimate five and ten-year ones. The monthly ones will then be based on what it will take to achieve your first-year goal.

Your immediate goals are those that are set for employees every week and every day. You can have an objective that is the same every week; for example, call prospects every Wednesday between 9am and 4pm.

6. Break down specific actions to be taken by specific people

One of the key principles of SMART goals settings is to be specific and action-oriented. Assign someone in each department involved to be accountable and to help motivate employees. Accountability and motivation are two essential components for turning goals from the abstract into reality.

7. Have a regular time for planning short-term objectives

Sit down regularly once per week – Monday morning is ideal – to set objectives for every day of the week to come. This planning time is critical. Break individual objectives down as much as possible.

8. Ensure you have appropriate employees involved in all aspects of planning

Seek and take onboard employee feedback on how individual objectives are travelling.

9. Review and revisit short-term objectives when and as needed

Don’t wait for the weekly Monday morning meeting. The business world can be a volatile marketplace, and your business must be prepared and ready to change direction. Reviewing goals will show you just how much you are achieving, what is working, and what needs tweaking, and will keep you motivated along the path to success.

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