More than 80 percent of small business owners don’t keep track of or monitor their business goals.
Similarly, startup owners and entrepreneurs often imagine the smashing success that they hope is in their future but fail to think about what steps they can implement to get there. According to a 2010 survey by Staples, more than 80 percent of small business owners don’t keep track of or monitor their business goals. In turn, this statistic probably has something to do with Staples’ findings that 77 percent of small business owners have yet to achieve their dreams and vision for the company.
Although establishing your business goals and objectives requires a fair bit of introspection, it’s crucial to do it at regular intervals so that you can come to an honest assessment of your situation and what lies ahead of you. In particular, it can be helpful to separate your goals into three categories: short-term, medium-term and long-term. Below is a look at which objectives you should place in each category.
Short-term goals should be those that you’re able to accomplish, or at least see important results for, within a year. In general, your short-term objectives should seek to improve something tangible and specific about your business so that you can start implementing solutions right away.
The best short-term goals are those that are highly specific and detailed, with concrete steps about how to attain them. If at all possible, associate the goal with an explicit figure and deadline, such as improving customer satisfaction by 20 percent in the next six months. You should also have specific people in mind who are in charge of ensuring the success of the goal and who must continually work to achieve it.
Ideally, each of your short-term goals should not only be an objective in itself, but also tie into a medium- or long-term goal for your business.
Medium-term goals are those goals that can be achieved within a time frame of no more than several years. By sitting between short- and long-term goals, medium-term goals serve as a bridge or transition between the two extremes. This usually means that they involve a greater degree of strategic thinking, with solutions that are more permanent in order to avoid short-term problems in the future.
For example, if the software that you’re developing has a large number of bugs in it, your short-term response is likely to fix them. On the other hand, the medium-term response might be to investigate other software development and testing methodologies so that bugs are identified and resolved earlier in the development process.
Long-term goals are typically accomplished within three to five years, which is usually the furthest into the future you can attempt to predict things before it all gets a little hazy. Your long-term goals should reflect your company’s values and mission statement and also respond to changing economic and sociopolitical conditions.
Whenever possible, your long-term goals should be decomposable into smaller short- and medium-term goals, which together form an in-depth roadmap for how to achieve them. Achieving them requires buy-in and cooperation from all key stakeholders at your organization.