For small businesses, setting long-term goals is essential for success.
Having a plan in place to achieve these objectives can help you stay focused on your desired outcomes and ensure that you are making progress towards them.
From developing new products or services, increasing customer loyalty and retention, diversifying revenue streams, exploring new markets or expanding your international presence – there are many different strategies that can be employed to reach those long-term business goals.
We’re going to dive into each of these strategies in greater detail and provide tips and actionable steps on how to maximize their effectiveness.
At the same time, it’s important to remember that your long-term goals are malleable – as circumstances change and new opportunities present themselves, you may find yourself adjusting course along the way.
Defining business success.
Before we get into the weeds on setting long-term goals, let’s discuss the importance of defining success for your business.
Many business owners set goals without understanding what they’re working towards or why it matters. Success isn’t two profits in a row; it’s much bigger than that.
We’ve discussed this before when defining your mission or vision statement, but it’s worth revisiting now that you’re thinking about setting long-term goals. Success can be defined in any number of ways, but here are a few common measures—
- Increased sales and profits: Are you making more money than you did last year? Are you increasing sales gradually?
- Improved customer satisfaction: Are your customers happy with the products or services they receive?
- Improved operational efficiency: Are you reducing costs and streamlining processes?
- Increased market share: Are you expanding your footprint and gaining more customers than ever before?
- Product innovation: Have you launched new products or services that make life easier for your customers?
Think about what success looks like for your business, and use that to guide your long-term goals. Without clearly defined benchmarks, it’s nearly impossible to measure progress and push yourself toward success.
While all businesses strive to increase revenue growth, keep in mind that some long-term goals support these efforts in one way or another.
Once you have a definition in mind, set SMART goals or use the three W’s that help you achieve that success.
How far out are long-term goals?
Alright, now you know where you want to go. Whether you choose to set SMART goals or use the three W’s, you’re ready to get started on your long-term plans.
You’ll need to answer one more question: how far out should my goals be?
The answer of what is considered a long period depends on a few factors, like the size of your business and the type of industry you’re in. Generally, goals should span a minimum of six months to five years.
For example, if you’re a small business that’s just starting out, you might set short-term goals for the first six months and long-term goals for the next 2-5 years.
On the other hand, larger companies may have goals that last for decades.
No matter the length, remember to set incremental goals along the way so you can measure your progress and make adjustments as needed.
Comparing long-term goals with short-term goals and medium-term goals.
So, now that you have a better understanding of long-term goals and how far out they should be, it’s time to compare them with short-term and medium-term goals.
Short-term goals and short-term objectives are typically set for the next six months or less, while medium-term goals span from six months up to two years.
These shorter timelines can help you focus on immediate results and create a stepping stone towards achieving your long-term goals.
For example, if you have a long-term goal of expanding into international markets within five years, a short-term goal may be to launch an effective social media campaign or implement a robust search engine optimization strategy in the next six months.
Similarly, your short-term business goals could include developing a content marketing plan or launching an email marketing campaign.
All of these short-term goals will help you achieve long-term goals and expand into international markets within the five-year timeframe.
Now that you have a better understanding of long-term goals and how they compare to short-term business goals, it’s time to get started on your own plan. Remember: think big, break it down into achievable steps, measure progress along the way, and adjust as necessary. You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish in five years.
Long-term goals examples.
Many small business owners don’t know where to begin or how to push their business forward using long-term goals.
To help you get started, here are some examples of long-term business goals.
Remember to apply these using the SMART goals method or another framework for setting your long-term business goals.
Develop a new product or service that meets customer needs.
One of our favorite long-term business goals is to develop a new product or service that meets customer needs. If you’re looking to expand your business, this is the perfect place to start.
Start by brainstorming ideas for products or services that can help customers solve their problems, then use market research and feedback from customers to refine the idea until it’s ready to launch.
Increase customer loyalty and retention.
A major component of a sales funnel, customer loyalty and retention should be a priority for any business. Increase customer loyalty by creating an amazing customer experience through marketing campaigns, personalized content, rewards programs, and more. This type of long-term business goal will ensure your customer base is satisfied which will increase traffic thus enabling your to accomplish many short-term goals.
Diversify revenue streams.
Another important long-term goal for small businesses is to diversify their revenue streams. This can help you mitigate the risk of relying on one source of income and maximize potential profits.
Explore new markets or expand your international presence.
Expanding your business into new markets is a great way to increase sales and strengthen your brand’s reputation. Explore new opportunities in the industry and research different customer segments that you can tap into. You may even want to consider expanding your business internationally, which could open up a world of new possibilities.
Invest in technology, training, and resources.
Investing in the right technology and resources can help you achieve long-term success. Investing in the latest software or hardware can give your business an edge over the competition and make processes more efficient. Likewise, investing in employee training can help you attract and retain talented individuals, which is key for any successful business.
Build brand awareness.
This is where we come in. If you want to succeed in the long run, it’s essential to create a strong brand that stands out from the competition. Invest in marketing and advertising campaigns, use content marketing and social media effectively, and nurture relationships with partners to increase your reach. Setting a long-term business goal around your brand will help ensure the future success of your other goals.
Measure success within your business.
All of those long-term business goals are great, but they don’t mean anything if you don’t track your progress.
Measure success within your business by setting key performance indicators (KPIs) and evaluating them regularly to keep track of your progress.
This will help you identify areas for improvement, maintain focus, and ensure you’re heading in the right direction.
Perhaps you have a regular meeting with department heads to review KPIs and ensure everyone is on the same page.
You might even want to consider introducing a rewards system for employees who consistently meet or exceed their goals.
Creating a culture of accountability, transparency, and success will help you stay focused on your long-term business goals.
Set those long-term business goals!
Long-term business goals are essential for any small business to achieve success.
Whether it’s developing a new product or service, increasing customer loyalty and retention, diversifying revenue streams, exploring new markets or expanding your international presence, investing in technology and resources, or building brand awareness – setting SMART goals is the best way to break down these objectives into achievable tasks that can help you reach those long-term milestones.
Additionally, measuring success within your business by tracking key performance indicators will ensure that everyone stays focused on achieving those desired outcomes.
So if you want to push your small business forward using long-term goals – start planning today.