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Business Goals 101: Identifying Goals, Using Different Categories and Types, for Trucking

How understanding different goal types can get you organized and ready for the road.


Are you goal-oriented? Would you like to be? Well, it’s never too late to start. Believe it or not, there are several types of goals that are critical to any business. There are more goal types than one might expect, and the process of setting goals is not as easy or as simple as people think. Many goals can be set from a single category, or a single goal could stem from each category, for example. It all depends on the overall plans and objectives of the business. Let’s take a closer look at setting business goals.

Why Do I Need to Set Goals for My Small Business? What Are Business Goals?

To be successful in trucking, it takes more than just luck and a truck. It takes a clear, well-thought-out plan. You need to think about the goals and the things that you need to achieve as a business. Setting clear goals can help business owners start and grow the business, overcome challenges, avoid costly mistakes, and improve the operating efficiency that is needed to drive toward sustained profitability and success. In an existing business, it helps business leaders, managers, drivers, and other staff know what they are working toward and why their efforts are important to success. Goals can be both guiding and motivating. They’re like a compass or GPS for your business from the standpoint that they lead you to places and help determine if your business is moving in the right direction. Without clear goals, you’ll be driving your business without a clear sense of direction and purpose. One thing is for sure, if you don’t have smart goals and expectations, you’ll be on the quickest route to failure. Thus, a logical first step is setting goals and then developing workable plans for achieving them.


If you’re thinking about starting a trucking company or need to set some business goals, you may be wondering how to establish effective goals to keep moving your trucking business forward. Well, we’re here to help you! In our online training program on starting a successful trucking company, you will learn why many companies fail in their first five years of operation. You will also learn how to set proper goals related specifically to trucking. You will learn how to build a detailed business plan and how to properly align your plan with your goals. You’ll learn about the actionable items that are necessary to ensure success.


What Areas of Business Should I Set Goals For?

You often hear people say that profit is the number one goal of any company. Well, they’re not wrong. Practically every business should take profit and their financials into consideration when setting goals. But any successful business requires multiple goals to be met, so it's important to think about what your business wants to be, where it needs to be, and what it will take to get there. Profit (or Loss) is the end result of different inputs and processes of a business. It’s important to think about various inputs and processes and to establish goals for these key things, which might include:

  • Profit or Financial: These goals involve sales, pricing, profit margins, and expenses and costs.

  • Process or Operational: This area aims at efficiency, quality, service, or innovation. These goals can help ensure your business operates in a way that drives down costs and increases revenue.

  • Employees: Goals in this category involve the education and development of employees, including the business owner

  • Customer: These aim at efforts related to customer satisfaction and retention.

  • Growth: This area involves building your list of customers or your book of business, adding skilled labor, expanding your service area (e.g., regional/national), or opening an office as things to facilitate growth.

  • Social: These involve community engagement and involvement and doing well by doing good.

What Types of Business Goals Should I Set? | Short-Term Business Goals & Long-Term Business Goals

Goals can be strategic, tactical, or operational in nature. Strategic goals are often big-picture, long-term goals. Tactical goals bridge the gap between strategic goals and operational goals. They connect processes to the big-picture strategy. Operational goals involve the steps and practices necessary to operate. These goals are often described as short-term goals. Another way to look at goals is either as long-term, mid-term, or short-term. So, let’s expand on this a little.


A long-term goal is something you want to achieve further out in the future. They are not something you will accomplish this week or this month or even this year. Long-term goals take significant time, effort, and planning to achieve. Long-term goals are further out and often related to your mission and why you went into business in the first place. They’re usually 3 to 5 years, possibly longer. And you don’t need a dozen long-term goals when 3 or 4 will do. Your long-term goals should be used to support or substantiate your short-term goals.


Starting a trucking company is a major goal that takes time and planning. It could happen in a couple of short months. Growing a successful trucking business is a different story and something that takes more time, over the long term, to achieve.


Short-term goals are things that take a couple of months to a couple of years to achieve. Short-term goals are things that you need to achieve this month or this year, for example. They are usually tied directly to your current processes and performance in your present situation. You can have several short-term goals in multiple categories (described above) happening concurrently. Short-term goals are usually the stepping stones to reach a long-term goal that sits much further down the road. In other words, once you've established your long-term goals, your short-term goals become the stepping stones and building blocks to achieving your long-term goals.


What will you need to accomplish in each quarter to move you closer to your five-year goal or goals? What steps and paths will you need to take to get there? These become your short-term goals. As an example, you might have a long-term goal of reaching a million dollars in revenue by your fifth year in business. A short-term goal might include adding 10 customers a month, offering additional services, or expanding your service area or the miles you and your truck(s) travel.


Tip: If you take a 5-year outlook, think of the things you plan to accomplish and where you’ll be at the end of the period, then work backward. Your long-term projections will never be perfect in terms of how they’re reached. Why? Because stuff happens! The good news is you’re free to pivot and adjust your route and your course of action along the way. It’s important to note that long-term goals are easier to adjust, whereas short-term goals are less flexible. What’s described here is not a set practice but simple guidelines that will help you lay out a sensible business plan.


Again, long-term goals are incredibly important because they're the desired outcome that drives your short-term goals. Your short-term goals should align and be directed toward achieving your long-term goals. This is why business goals should encompass short-term and long-term goals.


A few examples of long-term business goals include:

  • Grow the trucking company sales and revenue to a million dollars in revenue by year 5

  • Add three truck drivers in year 3

  • Open a new truck garage with multiple vehicle bays in year 4

  • Hit a half million productive miles by year 5

Examples of short-term business goals include:

  • Start up a new trucking company as an independent owner-operator in the next 12 months

  • Work with a consultant to rank to at least the third page of Google results within 12 months of start

  • Contact 30 potential clients (shippers) this month

  • Build up rainy day funds (cash reserves for unexpected) of at least $10,000 in the next 12 months

Final Thoughts

Whether you're just getting into the planning stages for starting a trucking business or looking to grow or sustain your business, goal-setting is critical to success in anything you do. Have realistic expectations going into it. Have a plan! Take whatever time you need to develop a practical mix of long- and short-term goals that span different categories from operational and financial to growth and social matters. Make sure that your short-term goals move you closer to your long-term goals. These efforts will help you avoid distractions and missteps and keep you focused on the tasks at hand in achieving your objectives. Keeping your goals top of mind and high priority will lead you toward success. You can always adjust as needed. And it is fair to say that each business is distinct and unique, and there is really no perfect way to set business goals. But it is an important first step.


A goal right now is to get started. Set some goals…and be SMART about it.


It should be clear by now that starting, growing, and accelerating your trucking business takes a definitive plan. If you feel drawn to the idea of starting your own trucking business, and if you feel you have the inner drive to drive, Soshaul can help! Please check out our free and for-purchase resources, templates, and in-depth courses available on our website.

Are you interested in learning more about topics such as IFTA or IRP, business plans or business structures, equipment or technology, or perhaps sales and marketing in transportation? Ready to START, DRIVE, & ACCELERATE your trucking business? Check out our course here!


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Soshaul Logistics LLC and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. It is meant to serve as a guide and information only and Soshaul Logistics, LLC - Copyright 2023 - does not assume responsibility for any omissions, errors, or ambiguity contained herein. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction or operation.


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