When I wrote my first short story (in over a decade) back in 2007, I had my basic plot figured out, but really didn’t have a clue about characterisation and point of view. I remember when I had the first draft finished, I sent it to my beta readers and they wrote back utterly confused. It wasn’t clear which character’s thoughts were being shown, as I kept flitting between both with no discernible section breaks. After many revisions (and reading character and viewpoint), the story was eventually published in 2009 in Blood Moon Rising issue 39. Read it here
I really think short stories are so important to a writer for several reasons. If you want to write something of novel length, you can explore characters, POV, and iron out other writing issues in a smaller version first. Even better if you can get your short story published, as this shows you have a style that will sell, and builds your CV for a potential agent or publisher down the line. This is just my opinion, but I don’t think too many agents will take a chance on an unknown writer if they don’t have any credentials to their name – which is why I’ve been submitting my short stories to ezines and print magazines. It’s most important to write short stories for enjoyment, of course, but building up a track record and working out your style and story ideas in a more manageable size really helps too.