Business goals and objectives are an important part of business planning, a process which involves building a roadmap for the success of your business. While these terms are often used interchangeably, it’s important that business owners know the differences between the two to effectively execute the plans they set in place.
The differences between a goal and an objective
It’s almost impossible to speak about objectives without speaking about goals as the two terms are linked. A goal is a target that a person or business wants to achieve. Goals are generally broader and are set over a longer term, for example annually or quarterly. Objectives, on the other hand, support goals, they are specific, measurable and are set over a short-term period. Simply put, “objectives are the individual actions you need to take to achieve a goal”, it’s therefore possible to have multiple objectives for a goal.
An example of how goals and objectives work in a real world setting is an online business looking to increase sales on its e-commerce website. To achieve this, the business can set a goal to grow its website traffic. Some examples of the objectives they can use to achieve this goal include, using digital ads, creating engaging content or optimising their SEO, to achieve a certain percentage increase in traffic over a set period.
How to set effective business objectives
The foundation for setting achievable goals and objectives is to first assess where your business is currently and where you want to be in the future.
Start by setting goals that align with your vision
Your vision is your overall mission for your business, it is your big ‘why’ for wanting to go into business. Some individuals choose entrepreneurship as an opportunity to build great wealth, to make a dream they have always had come true, or to create employment in their community.
Your business goals should align with your big vision otherwise you may head in a direction you don’t want to go. Typical goals a business will set is to increase profits, expand to new markets or drive more sales.
Set your objectives to support your goals
With your goals set, it’s time to put your objectives in place. Objectives break down your goals into smaller achievable actions and give you an action plan for achieving the specific goal. To create business objectives that get you results, be sure to focus on specific actions that are achievable in your chosen timeframe. Your objectives should also be measurable so you know when they have been achieved.
Writing down your goals and objectives can help business owners reach their growth targets. A good place to start is with a business plan. Download the SME South Africa Business Plan template to:
- Set out company goals and objectives
- Test out a new idea to see if it holds real promise of success
- Help you obtain financing and attract potential investors
- Identify and arrange strategic alliances