Balance. The ability to dedicate equal time to various tasks is important in any career, and it’s vital when running a business. As with any strategic plans, business plans utilize short-term and long-term goals. Typically, long-term goals involve increasing profitability and market share, while short-term goals can include investments, outreach, and other similar factors. With all of the effort that goes into operating businesses day-to-day, it can be difficult to so much as think about the future, much less plan for it. However, goal-setting is an essential element of the business strategization process, and balancing short-term and long-term goals is what will keep your business running smoothly and successfully.

What are Long-Term Goals?

Long-term goals, as the name implies, are extended goals that may take several months or years to achieve. Business writer Sarah Stasik defines long-term goals as “vision-based” and describing “an overall situation that incorporates measurable results whenever possible.” In addition, Stasik says these goals “concern impact, not necessarily specific action.” In this regard, long-term goals are solidified plans for achieving the vision of your business, and represent the overarching theme of your product or service.

What are Short-Term Goals?

Short-term goals can apply to various situations—so many, in fact, that it’s difficult to pin down a simple definition. For this, we turn again to Sarah Stasik, who describes short-term goals as “actionable,” “realistic but challenging,” and “measurable.” In essence, short-term goals are the bite-sized pieces of long-term goals.

How Do Long-Term Goals and Short-Term Goals Intersect?

Think of a thousand-piece puzzle, its individual pieces stored in a box. The box’s cover bears the image of a forest, and the individual pieces, all various shades of green and mottled brown, are supposed to come together and form this very image. In this scenario, the picture of the forest is the long-term goal, and the short-term goals are those little puzzle pieces. All of those short-term goals intersect and overlap, coming together over a long period of time to lead you to the ultimate success—the completion of your long-term goal.

How Do I Balance Short-Term and Long-Term Goals?

Frustratingly, there’s no one answer to this question. As with many facets of business, this is wholly dependent on the situation and its internal and external factors. Thankfully, Vision Edge Marketing has put forth five key tenets of achieving long-term value growth:

  1. A robust and credible strategy
  2. Productive, well-maintained assets
  3. Innovative products, services, and processes
  4. A fine reputation with customers, regulators, governments, and other stakeholders
  5. The ability to attract, retain, and develop high-performing talent

How do these relate to balance? These five tenets are broad examples of short-term strategies. As with any short-term strategy, too much focus on one is going to slow and even stagnate your progress towards a long-term goal. To truly balance the short-term and long-term goals for your company, you’ll need to dedicate the short-term to improving your overall strategy. This, in turn, will bolster your long-term strategy, and leave your company in excellent standing.