Consistently meeting deadlines is a cornerstone of a successful small business’s reputation. Deadlines are essential, especially in businesses that work with specific time constraints, like publishing, delivery services and supply chains. Failure to meet deadlines on a regular basis can create a negative image of your business and cost you money.

Demonstrated Dependability

When you continually deliver on time, you establish a reputation for being a reliable and dependable business. This can increase consumer confidence and help build a repeat customer base. Your customers know they can count on you to do what you say when you say you will do it. They’ll share this information with others, which can build your referral business.

Cost Savings

Missed deadlines have the potential to be costly, particularly if they cause you to lose a customer or force you to pay extra for something like rush shipping or rush printing. Staying on deadline ensures you also stay on budget for projects, a financial benefit that can add up over time.


Meeting deadlines demonstrates a professional attitude toward the way you run your business and view your customers. A small business often has to provide superior levels of service to compete with its larger counterparts, and being reliable and customer-focused can help achieve that goal.


In a small-business environment, there is often interconnectivity and overlap between positions and departments. If one team member fails to meet a deadline, it can create a domino effect in which colleagues and co-workers subsequently are faced with missing their own deadlines or working in excess to make up for someone else's slack. Meeting deadlines shows a respect for your own work product as well as for the time of your co-workers.

Time Management

Missed deadlines are usually a sign of poor time management. If this is the case in your small business, it's an indication of deeper problems related to ineffective project planning, use of time and resources and scheduling. If your staff regularly misses deadlines, conduct an internal time management audit and look for ways to eliminate time-wasters and keep projects, work schedules and orders on track.

Managing Deadlines

Set reasonable deadlines to ensure employees don’t look for excuses to miss them. Publish deadlines, issue reminders of upcoming due dates and penalize repeat offenders. Pad deadlines if necessary to build in extra time, but don’t tell employees about this sleight-of-of-hand, or they'll always assume they have extra time.