A guide to long term vs short term business goals

by Jenny Bowes | Mar 21, 2021

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With long term and short term business goals, you get exactly what’s labelled on the tin. Most of us like to look towards the future, and aspire to bigger and better things but it’s important to make sure you keep an eye on what’s going on right now. This is where short term and long term business goals really come into their own. 

These goals and aspirations are directly linked to the OKR process, as it’s likely that some of your OKRs will include short-term goals you need to hit to achieve your long-term company objectives.

To help you get started, we’ve put together this guide on the differences and organisational benefits of long term and short term business goals. 

Long term business goals 

Before we look at the differences let’s look to define both a long term and a short term business goal. 

The long term is all about the future, and when it comes to long term business goals it’s all about the direction of your organisation and where you see your organisation in the future. Long term goals offer a strategic view and aim to offer a path to ensuring the organisation can achieve its long term ambitions.

Examples of long term business goals

Long-term goals usually refer to goals that will take at least 12 months to achieve. You can apply this to any business-type, size or industry. Here are a few common examples:

  • Increase brand awareness
  • Increase your company’s overall market share
  • Open four new offices throughout the UK

When thinking about long term goals it’s important to consider internal and external factors which could affect whether or not you hit your goals. This includes social and political factors. Whilst some external situations are less expected and out of your control, such as the covid-19 pandemic of the last 18 months, it’s important to plan and mitigate for as many internal and external factors as possible. 

Short term business goals 

Short term goals in comparison to long term goals look at the here and now. This being said, they should always be linked to the long term company objectives. Short term goals allow you to break down the long term goals for the business and identify projects and initiatives that can support the long term vision in a shorter period of time. 

Examples of short term business goals 

Short term goals are targets that businesses expect to hit within 12 months. These are usually created to tie in with your wider company objectives. Some examples include:

  • Secure two new clients by the end of the quarter
  • Hire a new employee by the end of Q3
  • Decrease advertising spend over the next 3 months

An example of a short-term business goal that can help you achieve a long-term objective is to plan and execute more customer monitoring. By understanding your customers better (short term goal) you can look to achieve higher levels of customer satisfaction (long term goal). 

So, what’s the difference between the two types of organisational goals?

One of the main differences between short and long term business goals, apart from the time period, is the degree of flexibility that is applied to each method of planning.

For example, you could have a target to triple sales within the next five years – this is a long term goal that is concrete and generally won’t change. In contrast, the short term objectives you will use to achieve this goal will likely change and flex throughout the five year period you are working towards this long term goal. 

What do we mean by this? Well think about January 2020, ClubHouse didn’t exist so you wouldn’t been using it to expand your network. Fast forward to March 2021 and organisations are now using the platform to expand their reach and engage in conversations about their chosen topic. 

Another key difference between long term and short term goals is the reach of their impact. Long term goals generally impact the whole organisation, whereas, short term goals can be assigned to specific teams to employees. 

The effects of short term and long term goals also provides another notable difference between the two types of goal setting. Short term goals generally will not have as long-lasting effects. In fact, some long term goals may have a negative impact, but as we like to say at team TBG it’s all about testing, learning and adapting. This is where the flexibility we spoke of earlier is essential, amending or scrapping a short term goal when it’s not delivering and replacing it with more suitable plans. 

At TBG we’re all about goals, and more specifically OKRs, so if you’d like some support on your goal setting journey get in touch