You need deadlines and goals in this small business world
In todays world you need to have specific deadlines and goals if you're a small business. If you're just going with the wind then you probably won't be very successful in the end. Deadlines will help you achieve your goals because they will keep you on track. Whether it is a simple thing like adding images or content to your website or setting up an entirely new website to target a different niche, you need to keep on track or fall behind and not hit your goals.
All of your deadlines won't be the same because you will have various things going on and each of them will take a different amount of time. You'll need to be realistic when setting deadlines because you'll just get stressed out if you're consistently not hitting them on time and failing constantly in your own head even though you should still have some time left.
Short Deadlines - When setting a short deadline of 1 to 3 days you should think of these tasks as something you, or someone you hire, to finish in 24 to 48 hours. You'll want to set yourself up to hit your deadline so add an extra day in order to increase your chances of success. You don't really know how long it will take so factor in any errors or the unknown to your time.
Long Deadlines - A longer deadline is good for when you're doing something that takes longer than a couple weeks to do. If you're trying to increase the sales of your website by 25% you're not going to set a your deadline to 5 days to set everything up like your PPC campaigns and other marketing material because that's just not realistic. You would set it at a month or two because you would have to do loads of split testing before you start your real push to increase your sales by 25%, does that make sense?
Now just like in the Long Deadlines section above, you'll want to think of what your goals are before striking out to do anything. Having a goal of increasing your sales by 25% in the next 3 to 6 months is pretty realistic if you're starting out. If you've been in business for a few years and are already successful then an increase of 25% in 3 to 6 months may not be very realistic. You might have to set your goal at 1 year or 18 months in order to hit it.
Short Term Goals - Setting short term goals is always good for a team and it's moral. Hitting your short term goals will make everyone happier and these goals are sort of like benchmarks of success. You can offer incentives to your team if you have one, if they hit these goals and they will always strive to achieve greatness.
Long Term Goals - These goals are better for management and how they operate. You can set quarterly or yearly sales goals or sign up goals in order to boost your management up to their peak performance. The only downside about this is that your managers could become the type of person that rules with an iron fist just to hit the goals and get a bonus at the end of the year. I've personally worked under some of these kinds of managers and it's never fun. You will have to monitor your long term goals diligently while hitting all of your small term goals.
Goal Overlapping - A good way to hit your long term goals is to have all of your short term goals exceed your long term ones. This means that if you need to get 10,000 new sign ups to a website each year as a long term goal you would want to set your monthly sign up goals to 1,000 each. This means that if you hit every goal each month, you'll easily hit the yearly goal and everyone will be happy
We all need to set goals and deadlines even if we're a sole proprietor because they will keep us on track. Set reasonable goals and deadlines in order to not stress yourself out too much. If you're working with a team you'll want to set goals that are achievable in order to keep moral up. Overlapping your goals will ensure everyone is happy at the end of the year... hopefully