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Posted: December 31, 2018
By: Janet A. Johnson
When we talk about achieving our goals, we should understand the role objectives play in helping us to the path of successfully implementing our business strategy. You see goals and objectives form the backbone of any strategy. I have seen the terms goals and objectives used interchangeably over the years, and this article is designed to bring some clarity to goals vs. objectives and where they fit in the strategic planning process. While we are at it, did you know that about 20% of startups fail in their first year? This statement is not meant to scare you but to bring awareness of the harsh realities in the business world, while highlighting the importance of understanding the path to achieving your goals.
Perhaps you’ve once been a part of these unfortunate statistics and you still haven’t figured out what went wrong. Well, the truth is that, the majority of the businesses that fail do so because of the lack of a proper plan. The planning stage is where you set your business goals and objectives. Let’s take a look at what goals and objectives are and how they relate to each other.
Perhaps you’re thinking, “but I already know what goals and objectives are.” I’m sure everyone feels the same way too. The truth is everyone has the basic idea of what these two terms mean but many people actually use them incorrectly, as they are often used interchangeably. So, what do they actually mean?
Goals are generally broad in scope and indicate the general direction of a business. During the strategic planning process, your business goals can seem quite abstract and are not as easily measurable as the more tangible objectives. For example, you may say “I want to be the number one manufacturer of product X”. This represents the lofty plans you have for your company but how do you decide what measures you need to take to achieve this goal. This is where we move into the conversation of developing objectives.
Objectives are like sub goals of your goal. They are more factual and tangible than goals, and are shorter term, specific – more narrow in scope, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely – they have deadlines. In essence, objectives represent exact steps that your business need to take before you can achieve your goals. Therefore, it is only reasonable to expect that your business objectives are in line with your goals and overall business strategy. This is referred to as strategic alignment and later we will discuss Why Strategic Alignment is Crucial for Your Business Planning Process.
Now, let’s look at objectives as it relates to the example introduced in our discussion on goals. An objective for this example can be to increase your production by 5 percent in the next production year. As you can see, this is more specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and provides a timeframe. You can track the success of this objective and it will take you a step closer to achieving your goal. It is important to note that you may need more than one objective in order to fully achieve your goal.
Now that you know the difference between goals and objectives, it should be easier for you to devise plans and measures for your business success. In case you still have doubts about their importance, here are 4 reasons why you should focus on setting business goals and objectives each year:
This is perhaps the most obvious advantage of setting business goals. A goal serves as a projected end for all your business efforts and it gives all your employees a sense of direction. It also helps keep management on track when it’s time to make difficult decisions.
Objectives are like small accomplishments that make the achievement of the goals look more realistic. They are like those little steps that get you closer to the goal. Hence, when your employees have an objective in mind, the business goals seem attainable to them.
Of course, planning is just as important as having a final destination in mind. It’s the response to, “how do you expect to get to the destination?” Planning your business strategy is important and the strategy you adopt will guide you in implementing your goals and objectives.
Revisiting our example, your strategy to achieve your objective of increasing sales by 5 percent could be, “increase sales by employing social media campaigns.” Looking at this example, you can see that the stated strategy is in line with the company objectives. It is pretty easy to see that a quality planning process involves setting up a reasonable strategy for achieving the objectives, which ultimately leads to achieving your business goals.
Goals and objectives are excellent benchmarks for evaluating your business success. By setting achievable time-bound objectives, you can easily determine the success of your business. The more objectives you achieve, over time, the more successful your business.
Apart from evaluating the business as a whole, you can also easily evaluate your employees. What’s more? Even your employees can evaluate themselves. You can easily determine the departments that are succeeding and those that are lagging behind. This gives employees a chance to adjust their work to meet the required objectives.
Planning and focusing on achieving your goals and objectives ultimately lead to growth in your business, which translates to increased financial returns. Therefore, more objectives you achieve, the closer you are to achieving your goals. This means your business is growing, meaning the value of your business is growing. Understanding your business goals also helps you make financial decisions.
Strategic Planning is a great opportunity for you to get all your business decisions right. It is essential that you set achievable goals and objectives, as this gives your business a direction through the year. Also, it motivates your employees by letting them see a particular end goal. It also makes it easy to get buy-in from management and other stakeholders.
Suffice to say, it is highly beneficial for you to set goals and objectives for your business.
Hi, I am Janet A Johnson a Management Consultant and Life Coach with over 15 years strategic program/project management and business management experience. I am the owner of StrategyNook LLC, a consultancy agency specializing in strategic project management, business management, web development, branding, internet/social media marketing, life coaching and stress management. Schedule your free consultation today and let's talk strategy and customized solutions.
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