Today's Viewpoint: A MarshBerry Publication


There’s an old saying that the difference between a dream and a goal is a plan. Keep in mind that 50% of small businesses fail by year five. A fundamental reason? Poor planning.

Compare these two goals: expand my business vs. increase revenue by 15%. Which of these feels more specifically strategic? To effectively manage your business, you’ll need to go beyond an aspirational vision and create more specific and attainable goals. Most business owners have a business plan or strategy, but not all are actionable. They don’t specify things like, what should you achieve in the first year? What about your 5-year plan? A core part of strategic planning is organizing your goals into short-term and long-term. Goal setting determines the direction and scope of an organization. It should help you answer key questions: What are the priorities for me and my team? How will resources be allocated? What tells me I’m successful?

The core differences between short-term and long-term goals

Setting each type of these goals helps position your business for growth and ensures you are competitive in the broader industry. They have similar features, but there are different approaches necessary to reach short-term vs. long-term goals.

ObjectiveDefines what the business should accomplish in the near future.Expresses the broader vision and mission for your company.
Key characteristicsClearly defined, measurable, challenging but attainable, motivational.Broad and strategic, ambitious, motivating, positive.
TimeframeLess than one year; a week, month, or year  3, 5 or 10 years
FlexibilityRigid but realistic.Adaptable, should change based on circumstances or new information.
Example“Gain 5 new clients by end of month.”“Double new clients in 5 years.”

In addition, both short-term and long-term goals should have a clear relationship. Think of the long-term goal as your “north star” and the short-term as the “map” that guides you.

Why you need to do both?

Because of the complexities of running an agency, dividing goals into short- and long-term can help you take control and run your business to be its most successful. Creating both types of goals will drive better results by:

  • Enhancing clarity. Creating goals based on short-term or long-term characteristics helps clarify expectations for you and your staff. What are the priorities? What steps should you take to achieve your purpose? In addition, having both types of goals demonstrates why you are focusing on certain initiatives and the impact of achieving them.
  • Motivating employees and stakeholders. When goals are longer term, they are easily forgotten or dismissed in favor of what can be achieved more immediately. But seeing the small wins associated with short-term goals not only helps reinforce your larger strategy – it also strengthens the long game. Your staff will feel inspired by their progress and part of the company success. This often leads to better retention and more satisfied employees. People want to work for an organization that has a clear and defined path, and they work harder when they understand the end goal.
  • Driving momentum. More immediate goals are milestones towards larger aspirations. Those milestones help you and your team act on larger ideas and celebrate wins along the way. With short- and long-term goals, employees get immediate feedback and better understand expectations. Consider the visual of a pyramid – each rock is necessary to build the overall structure, and neither is possible without the other.
  • Enabling a test and learn environment. As you journey towards your ultimate long-term goal, it’s important to reflect on what’s working and adjust in areas like producer performance, marketing, or client retention. Perhaps you identify you’ve been pursuing the wrong types of clients and can make adjustments while still on track for the long-term goal.

It’s important to make both short-term and long-term goals something to achieve, not individual tasks. Each type of goal should be assigned to a department, function, individual, or the entire agency.

Done well, setting goals can help you take advantage of opportunities, tackle challenges, prepare for the future, and keep you focused on the big picture.

Is FirstChoice, a MarshBerry Company, right for you?  

Your company’s strategic plan is a roadmap for how your company will function, grow, and succeed. Working with an experienced agency network brings reassurance that you are on the right track and our regional leaders act as your accountability partner. 

FirstChoice, a MarshBerry Company, caters to insurance agency owners who prioritize talent investment, embrace challenging decision-making, want to develop and work toward a strategic plan, and are open to agility and empowerment. FirstChoice offers growth solutions tailored for agencies of all sizes. If you are not a FirstChoice member and are interested in learning more about the nation’s number one agency partner, visit 


Contact Keith Captain
If you have questions about Today's ViewPoint, or would like to learn more about how MarshBerry can help your firm determine its path forward, please email or call Keith Captain, President, at 704.831.8708.

MarshBerry continues to be the #1 sell side advisor in the industry (as ranked by S&P Global). If you’re considering selling your firm, we are the best choice to help you through the complicated process. If you don’t hire MarshBerry, hire a reputable advisor that can help you navigate one of the most important business decisions you will ever make. You will be much better off having an advisor in your corner that knows the industry than trying to do this on your own.