How to Set Short Term Goals for Your Small Business (15 Examples Included)

Setting appropriate goals is something that every business owner should prioritize. When you get it right, these goals will guide your actions — which saves you time and makes business easier. To get it right, you need to set both long term and short term goals for your small business.

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Today, I’m deep diving into short terms goals. You’ll understand what they are, how they are different from long term goals, and why you need them. Plus, I’ll give you a few examples, so you can get an idea of how you should use short-term goals to help you advance bigger goals.

Short Term Goals Versus Long Term Goals

Miriam Webster defines a goal as the end towards which effort is directed. In other words, everything you wish to accomplish is a goal. This can be confusing. Especially when it comes to setting goals for your business.

Understanding what short terms goals are and how to use them to your benefit starts with understanding the difference between short and long term goals.

A long term goal is something you want to achieve in the distant future. Think several years out.

An example of a long term goal may be:

I will grow my email list to 100K relevant subscribers by September 28, 2027.

What makes this goal long term is the date. This is something you wish to achieve in five years. It’s a much bigger, loftier goal.

What is a Short Term Goal?

A short term goal is just that — short! These goals have much swifter deadlines. Usually, within a year or less.

Anything and everything from your “to-do” list items, to monthly milestones, to quarterly and yearly goals are considered short term.

Short term goals do two important things. They support

  • Long term goals
  • Other short term goals

Think of short term goals as a bridge between where you are right now and where you want to be in the distant future.

How Short Term Goals Benefit Your Small Business

The short term goals you set for your small business are critical to your ability to reach those bigger, long term goals. But that’s not the only benefit.

Here are just five of the many benefits you can expect:

1. Defines Your Action Steps

Let’s face it. A big goal with a far-away deadline can feel intangible and overwhelming. Often you’re left thinking, “where should I start?”

That’s where short term goals come in and save the day. Breaking that big goal into shorter ones makes everything easier.

You essentially can use short term goals to create your entire plan of action to achieve your long term goals.

2. Keeps You Focused on the Present

It’s hard enough to focus on “right now” with all of the distractions you battle every day. To think that you can stay present with what you need to do today while focusing on your end goal is unrealistic.

It’s much easier to focus on smaller, shorter term targets. They will help you keep your attention on what needs to happen in the current moment.

Doing what matters now is what will help you make that long term progress.

3. Helps You Define Deadlines

The point of setting a long term goal for your small business is to achieve that goal. However, if you keep your attention on that long term deadline, you’ll find yourself constantly frustrated, feeling like you’ve made little progress.

Breaking those long term goals into short term goals mean closer deadlines. And those shorter goals, put in a logical sequence, constitute a plan with clear due dates and deadlines.

Defined deadlines will help keep you on track.

4. Provides You With Feedback Faster

Those defined deadlines also offer you the opportunity to receive valuable feedback on your progress. And you’ll get that information faster from your short term goals.

If you are meeting your short term goal deadlines, you’ll remain on track.

If you find that you’re constantly pushing those due dates and deadlines back, then you’re off track. Make sense?

In other words, what’s happening with your short term goal progress will give you the feedback you need to either continue forward or make appropriate adjustments.

5. Minimizes Procrastination

Setting short term goals for your small business will help minimize procrastination.

Having a big, lofty goal due far in the future looming large over you is fodder for procrastination because it just feels too overwhelming.

It’s much easier to take action on small steps with short deadlines.

Slow and steady wins the race.

How to Break a Long Term Goal into Short Term Goals for Your Small Business

Now you understand the difference between long and short term goals for your small business. You also are aware of why setting short term goals are of benefit to you.

So let’s talk about how to actually break a long term goal into short term goals. Sound good?

Breaking Down Long Term Goals

To demonstrate what I mean, let’s revisit our long term goal example:

I will grow my email list to 100K relevant subscribers by September 28, 2027.

A yearly, short term goal that supports this bigger goal is:

I will grow my email list to 20K relevant subscribers by September 28, 2023.

What makes this a short term goal for business is, again, the date. Yes, the number of email subscribers also changed, but that number isn’t relevant.

But, we can break that short term goal down again into other short term goals as well.

Quarterly, Short Term Goal:

I will grow my email list to 4K relevant subscribers by December 28, 2022.

Monthly, Short Term Goal:

I will grow my email list to 1.2K relevant subscribers by October 28, 2022.

Breaking Down Short Term Goals

Let’s stop there.

This short term goal may be quite realistic if your business has been actively list buildling with a sophisticated funnel and ads strategy.

BUT if you haven’t been building a list of any kind, adding 1.2K new email subscribers in a month could be a challenge. Especially if you don’t have a email software or a lead magnet (ie. your freebie).

Either way, what’s important to know is this:

      1. You need to take your current circumstances somewhat into account when breaking down your long term goals
      2. Breaking down your long term goals in this manner will help you make better decisions when it comes to numbers, deadlines and other metrics

For the sake of this example, let’s say you’re new to list building.

The first decision you need to make pertains to the metric of 1.2K new emails. If you have no platform or lead magnet (ie. your freebie), then that’s a big number. And, of course, you’ll need to spend some time putting these things into place.

Let’s create a more realistic, short term goal for the month:

I will create my list-building machine and add 200 new email subscribers in the next 30 days.

Now we have something to really work with.

Creating Micro Goals

This brings me to what I like to call micro goals. A micro goal is a super short term task that is a component to achieving short term goal. Think of these as “to-do” list items that are less formal.

So for this goal:

I will create my list-building machine and add 200 new email subscribers in the next 30 days.

Micro actions could be:

      • Research email management systems
      • Choose an email management system
      • Set up email management system
      • Brainstorm lead magnet ideas
      • Validate lead magnet ideas with ideal clients
      • Outline lead magnet
      • Write lead magnet
      • Design lead magnet

Of course, this is just an example. And as a matter of fact, some of the micro-actions could be broken down even more.

The point is to take a big project and break it into small actions and then smaller actions. Especially if a task feels overwhelming.

Small steps are where it’s at, my friend. They will help you create a flow that will have you achieving your goals more quickly and effortlessly than ever.

Must a Short Term Goal Always Support a Long Term Goal?

You might be wondering, “do the short term goals I set for my small business always need to support a bigger goal?”

That’s a fair question. To which the answer is, “it depends”.

For example, you may decide to build your first digital course over the next six months. That would be a short term goal. The sales you make of that course could relate to a larger, long term revenue goal.

On the other hand, you may set the short term goal to implement a project management tool to use with your team. That goal could be part of a short term effort to get more organized, but doesn’t relate to a long term goal.

Got it? Good!

Consider Setting These Short Term Goals for Your Small Business

If you’re new to the goal-setting philosophy, start with setting a few short term goals for your small business.

Need some inspiration? Here are a few ideas.

      • Close two new clients in the next 30 days.
      • Outsource all or part of a project this year.
      • Create written processes for repeatable tasks over the next 60 days.
      • Conduct a marketing audit this week.
      • Introduce a new product or service this quarter.
      • Establish a morning routine this week.
      • Reduce business expenses by 20% in 6 months.
      • Integrate an easy-to-manage social media strategy this month.
      • Test out Facebook Ads for a lead magnet for 90 days.
      • Design a signature talk over the next month.
      • Start a journal and write an entry daily for the next 90 days.
      • Develop one new, good habit every month for the next year.
      • Conduct market research to discover competitors over the next 30 days.
      • Develop the company’s mission statement in the next 14 days.
      • Increase company revenue by 25% over the next year.

Once you’ve chosen your short term goals. Break them down into smaller action items.

Setting Short Term Goals for Your Small Business Will Help You Make Progress Faster

Whether related to a long term goal or not, the short term goals you set for your small business will help you make better, faster progress on what really matters to the success of your business.

Take some time to brainstorm some helpful short term goals that will support the larger goals you’ve set. You’ll find that business feels just a little bit easier. Because taking little steps consistently is far less overwhelming than thinking about the bigger picture all of the time.

Yes. Those long term goals are your target, but your short term goals are what will get you there in the end.

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