We always hear about the importance of setting long-term goals as well as short-term goals. It is undeniable that those types of goals are crucial for the success of any individual or business. But often, the setting of short-term goals is neglected. This oversight by many entrepreneurs and business leaders can be a costly one.
The exact time frame of a medium-term goal varies. Since every business is different and is operating at different stages, medium-term goals can refer to any goal that one hopes to accomplish anywhere between several months but less than five years.
Medium-term goals help provide a clear roadmap for a business to follow and measure progress along the way. These goals help to keep the business on track, while also allowing for flexibility in adapting to changes in the market or industry. Setting medium-term goals allows a business to identify specific areas that need improvement and to develop strategies to address them.
These goals also help in making important business decisions such as investments and resource allocation. Overall, setting medium-term goals is essential for any business looking to achieve long-term success and growth.
If you’re on your way to achieving all your short-term business goals and you’re still working on your long-term goals, setting medium-term goals is your next step. Here are a few you should consider.
1. Make It to the 5-Year Mark
The Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) is the authoritative source of information on the nation’s labor market. Among other things, they collect information on the number of new jobs created each month, new businesses, business failure rates, and business lifespans.
They report that approximately 20% of new businesses fail during the first two years of being open, 45% during the first five years, and 65% during the first 10 years.
Survival rates are also influenced by industry. The Statistics Brain Research Institute compiled data on startup failure by industry. 58% of finance, insurance, and real estate startups were operating after four years, while only 37% of information startups were. Education and health startups fared better at 56%, while retail startups only hit 47%. In total, almost 50% of startups will fail before they hit their fourth operational anniversary.
It’s an important long-term business goal to be able to celebrate being in business for five years. It’s an accomplishment simply getting to this point, due to the many challenges new business owners face. Some reasons for new businesses failing include:
- No clear niche
- Cash flow issues
- Poor customer service
- Competition in your space is too strong
- Lack of a marketing strategy
- The inability of the business owner to do it all
- Leadership and staff not capable enough to grow the business
- Lack of market need for your business
You can increase your risk of success by knowing which areas of your business are the weakest, and creating an action plan to address those weaknesses.
2. Diversify Revenue Streams
Once you’re confident that your daily processes are in place, and your sales numbers are looking good, it’s a good time to start thinking about diversifying your revenue streams. Where else can you broaden your customer base? Are there other people your business could build relationships with? Start thinking about other ways to bring revenue into the business.
This can be as simple as developing a complementary product to your main product. Or it can be another type of product or service altogether. For example, if you’ve launched a hair salon. Find ways to be able to make money without clients coming into your salon and getting their hair done.
One way of doing this is by selling products in your salon that clients can purchase and take home. Make these products available online on your business’s website so that a client can repurchase them without setting an appointment or coming into your shop.
3. Launch New Products or Services
If you’re confident in your current product or services, think about what else you can offer the public. For example, if you’re a personal trainer, would it be appropriate for you to sell fitness products in your gym? Would you be able to reach more customers if you offered an online coaching service for people who are too intimidated to step inside the gym?
People who are interested in their health might want nutrition advice. Could your gym offer appointments with an on-site nutritionist as well? Think about new ways your business could help people, especially in ways that the competition hasn’t thought of yet.
4. Reduce Costs
While no business wants to compromise on quality, it’s important to reduce costs to maximize profit. Although reducing cost should also be a short-term and long-term goal, many businesses cannot focus on reducing costs when they are just starting out. Some of the easiest ways to save money include:
- Saving your time by reducing the number of meetings you have.
- Go paperless whenever possible to save on the costs of ink and paper.
- Consider a cheaper location to save on rent.
- If something that is used will work, consider buying used instead of new.
- Set a budget for your business.
- Compare prices from several vendors before buying a new item.
- Negotiate with suppliers for better pricing
The early phase of any business is going to be focused on surviving financially. It’s important to focus on ensuring your business fundamentals are solid, even though you want to achieve this business goal faster.
5. Increase Customer Retention
In many ways, increasing customer retention is not separate from your other goals. This goal is critical to being able to achieve all your other goals.
Your business has no reason to exist if there are no customers. Your ability to satisfy customers – and maintain profits – will be the reason your business will make it to the five-year mark. It’s important to be in tune with what your customers have to say about your product, and to make adjustments so you can continue to meet customers’ needs. If you are not retaining customers, you’ll need to investigate this and find out why.
Bad feedback can help you improve your business. Customers are far more likely to tell their friends when they are unhappy with a business, than when they are happy with it. So, if a customer is unhappy, get to the cause. If you have an open mind, you might actually find an opportunity to improve something and increase customer retention.
6. Develop Strategic Partnerships
Developing strategic partnerships can help you expand your customer base. Think about who your customers are, and how they’re discovering your product.
For example, let’s say you’re a small business owner, and your business is a food truck. You’re confident that you have a niche that people will love, but you want more people to know about your food.
Who has the square footage to sell your product? Who already has the customer base willing to try something new? A strategic partnership with an office building – one already in your neighborhood – might be a perfect fit. Would they be willing to let you sell your products in front of their store? It never hurts to ask. This is just one example of a strategic partnership.
7. Automate Much of Your Work
Another medium-term goal is automating much of your work. Automating a task means letting technology perform the task. This means that you – or another employee – would not have to do it.
Not all work can or should be automated. Work that requires your complete attention, focus, and creativity will not be automated. You also cannot automate the decision-making and planning for the business. As the leader, those things are part of your responsibility.
The tasks that you consider automating are the ones that are repetitive or that can be done at a more cost-effective rate. When starting, it is common for an entrepreneur to take on the bulk of the tasks. This includes marketing, sales, customer service, product development, fulfillment, and much, much more.
There are several ways to automate the work you do. Even if your new business hasn’t yet matured to the point of hiring full-time employees, you can still begin to offload some of your responsibilities to focus on bigger, more important things.
Here are some examples:
- Hire a virtual assistant for email management, customer service, and administration tasks.
- Use social media management tools for all social media publishing.
- Utilize a chatbot on your site for simple customer inquiries.
- For video marketing, hire a freelance video editor to edit and optimize your marketing videos.
Setting medium-term goals can put your business on a growth path. Automating your work can free up your time to build strategic partnerships, reduce costs, and launch a new product. Ensuring customer satisfaction can help you increase your odds of making it to the five-year mark.