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Goals And Objectives – 3 Definitive Differences Of Grand Goals And Strategic Objectives

Grand business goals and objectives in strategic plans for business start-ups and small businesses – How to scale a business

What is the difference between goals and objectives? Most people think of goals and objectives as one and the same thing. This is further from the truth.

Achievement bar and business growth
“Without goals, and plans to reach them, you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination.” — Fitzhugh Dodson 

Goals and objectives are non-negotiable when you start a business. In this blog post, we will address how priorities of a business change due to pivots that accommodate change and have a direct impact on your goals and objectives. Because a business is more likely to fail the longer it has been in operation, you cannot stick to your business strategy.

Look around at how most successful business’ goals and objectives have evolved overtime, in addition to their products, services, customer preferences, audiences, and cashflow.

We’d kicked off the solid strategy formulation process vital for pivoting an organisation in times of crisis from an earlier post.

Here’s the preceding post for further reading: Vision Statement to Make Your Dream a Reality: Doggedly Developing and Tinkering Vision Statements to Adapt Lest You Are Left Behind (Part 6)

What is a goal?

Are your dreams for year 2022 still vague? If you do not do any real work to bring your dreams into existence, then it is not what you want. A goal is what you want more than anything, with specific detail. Now multiply that by 10.

Goals are long term endeavors that are so big that people laugh out loud when you tell them.

“Goals should never be easy, they should force you to work, even if they are uncomfortable at the time.” — Michael Phelps #thextraordinarionly #startupgrowthhacking #startupbusiness Click To Tweet

Short-term vs long-term goals

Short-term business goals are ‘short’ because they bridge the gap between where you are right now and where you want to be. Goals that you want your company to achieve in a period of weeks or months are short-term. On the contrary, when setting goals 10 years out is long-term; however, setting goals as little as one year out or as far away as 20 year depends on what business you are in.

“If you’re bored with life—you don’t get up every morning with a burning desire to do things—you don’t have enough goals.”

— Lou Holtz

What is an objective?

Dart board with darts at the centre
“If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.” ― Zig Ziglar

Have you written down some statements about what you want to achieve in the form of new year resolutions, with specific steps on how to get there? These are objectives.

As a new year kicks-off, most entrepreneurs and business owners take time to evaluate if all stakeholders of their businesses understand the difference between goals and objectives. This is usually a very important first step in setting business goals.

Best definition of a business objective

Do you agree with this commonly used definition?

“ A business objective is a detailed picture of a step you plan to take in order to achieve a stated aim.”

Most profound business objectives define the “how” of the firm. They are measurable and clearly outline actionable steps.
Smart objectives are specific and have a set timeline.

Dig deeper into how ThExtraordinariOnly can guide you to make your goals and objectives, without distractions, for success beyond year 2022

Goals definition business

If you actively pursue something with a well-thought-out plan, that is a goal. Goals are enormous and force you to exploit your maximum potential. Business goals propel you to move forward and set the foundation for the success of an ongoing concern.

Financial goals are both aspirational and measurable, and consequently one of the most useful top-level objectives you can have.

5 Prominent characteristics of business goals

  • They define the “what” of a business’s purpose
  • Goals of a business only provide a general direction that a firm and its stakeholders follow
  • Business objectives are measurable
  • They are more broad and all-encompassing
  • An organization’s goals are not time bound
“Your goal should be just out of reach, but not out of sight.” #goalsandobjectives #visionboard #strategicplanning #thextraordinarionly
— Denis Waitley and Remi Witt


Goal and objective difference

Is there a significant difference between “goals” and “objectives for different types of businesses?”

7 examples that explain the differences between objectives and goals

This is what other business leaders say:

  1. The main difference between a goal and an objective is that goals provide direction, whereas objectives measure how you should follow that direction.” (Hubspot)
  2. Goals are the outcomes you intend to achieve, whereas objectives are the specific actions and measurable steps that you need to take to achieve a goal.” (Indeed)
  3. “A good way to think about a goal vs objective is that while goals are SMART, objectives are SMART-er.” (Smart Suite)
  4. “The main differences between goals and objectives lie in seven key areas: Scope; Purpose and order; Specificity; Timeframe; Tangibility; Perspective; Benefits” (Rigorous Themes)
  5. “Goals are just general intentions towards the attainment of something, while objectives are precise actions for accomplishment of a specific task.” (Diffen)
  6. “The goals are abstract, while objectives are concrete” (Key Differences)
Your team should have clear communication objectives. If not rational, attainment of goals will be ambiguous, privileging those in power and providing deniability.


Recommended reading: The Organizational Communication Perspective That Matters – Does Mindful Flow of Information Coexist In Your Organizations?

What’s the difference between objectives and goals

Do you agree with Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th President of the United States?

“We succeed only as we identify in life, or in war, or in anything else, a single overriding objective, and make all other considerations bend to that one objective.” 
5 organization's professionals in a strategy session for market analysis

Business goals and objectives make excellent benchmarks to gauge your company’s success objectively. Strategy is what connects goals and objectives. For effective goal setting, the business planning process should include business objectives that are translated into actionable business goals.

Your business plan is simply empty without your business goals and objectives. They are the most important components of your business plan(s).

Have you set your core goals? Specifying achievable business objectives is the next step towards a clear understanding of how to reach the desired outcome. Then accept the challenge like strategy execution ninjas.

What are goals and objectives examples

If one has an opportunity to make money and/or advance their position or place in life, there can be a lot to weigh and consider, such as responsibilities, goals and objectives, etc. We all make choices, deal with our sense of priorities, principles, ethics, morals, balancing, juggling, making compromises… or not! Ha!

— Axl Rose

What can you add to these examples of goals:

  1. Providing excellent service
  2. Growing revenues
  3. Creating a more inclusive workplace culture
  4. Becoming an industry leader
  5. Creating a brand

For a volunteer program, the goals must align with your enterprise’s plan, goals, objectives, and vision.

Objective examples

A start-up’s goals and objectives examples may not be the same with those of a small business.

Read more on students’ learning goals and objectives here and others on family, workplace, etc. here

Setting long term objectives

Thumbs up showing approval of setting goals and objectives
“Our goals and objectives are supposed to be well planned out in our minds.” ― Sunday Adelaja

Long term objectives get prepared from the mission statement of the organization, on the basis of which all other activities depend. Long term objectives highlight the expected consequences that emerge from application of certain strategies.

All the strategies of the business organization are formulated & implemented in the guidance of the long term objectives. These objectives are for longer period of time, ranging from two to five years. This time frame should also be consistent for the resulting strategies.

If your employees (and volunteers too) aren’t feeling growth personally, they won’t care as much about your organizational goals, objectives, and targets.


7 qualities for effective long term objectives to scale a business

There are seven criteria used in preparing long-term objectives: acceptable, flexible, measurable over time, motivating, suitable, understandable, and achievable.

i. Acceptable

Organizational business executives are prone to pursue objectives that are consistent with their preferences. If the achievement of objectives offends them, or they believe them to be inappropriate or unfair, ignoring or obstructing them is a norm. Therefore, designing long-term corporate objectives that are acceptable to groups external to the firm is a win-win.

“The young knowledge worker whose job is too small to challenge and test his abilities either leaves or declines rapidly into premature middle age, soured, cynical, unproductive.” ― Peter F. Drucker
ii. Flexible

Objectives that are adaptable to unforeseen or extraordinary changes in the firm’s competitive or environmental forecasts is a flexibility that is increased at the expense of specificity. One way of providing flexibility while minimizing its negative effects is to allow for adjustments in the level of enterprise objectives, rather than the nature of the objectives.

“All who have accomplished great things have had a great aim, have fixed their gaze on a goal which was high, one which sometimes seemed impossible.”

― Orison Swett Marden

iii. Measurable

Objectives must clearly and concretely state what will be achieved and when it will be achieved. All objectives should be measurable over time.

iv. Motivating

People matter most in an organization. Moreover, they are most productive with objectives set at a motivating level that is high enough to challenge but not so high as to frustrate or so low as to be easily attained. The problem is that individuals and groups differ in their perceptions of what is high enough.

To prevent a broad objective from being a challenge to one group but frustrating another, though minimally interesting a third, tailor the objectives to specific groups, like we do. Developing such objectives requires time and effort, but objectives of this kind are highly motivational.

“The great danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”
v. Suitable

Long-term business objectives suited to the broad aims of the firm should be as expressed in the firm’s mission statement. Ensure each objective set is a step toward the attainment of overall goals of the organization. In fact, objectives that are inconsistent with the company’s mission can subvert the firm’s aims.

vi. Understandable

Using these criteria, strategic managers at all levels must understand what is to be achieved. What is the major criteria by which their performance will be evaluated?

Thus, objectives must be so stated that they are as understandable to the recipient as they are to the giver.

“A goal is not just an object on a pitch; it is also a milestone on your journey of excellence.”
vii. Achievable

Finally, objectives must be possible to achieve. Turbulence in remote operating environments affects a firm’s internal operations. It creates uncertainty.

Jim Rohn’s quote captures this perfectly:

“You cannot change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight.”

Steer clear of limiting the accuracy of the objectives set by strategic management by confirming that they are realistic.

Distinct Differences Between Goals and Objectives: Criteria to Prepare Long-Term Objectives Used in Startup and Small Business Knockout Planning Structure [Part 7] #thextraordinarionly #strategies #goals Click To Tweet

Photo credits: Free Images

Your turn

Are you inspired to revise your goals and objectives to adapt to the current times of financial turmoil and eminent depression?

Further references

  1. CISA Issues Preliminary Cross-Sector Cybersecurity Goals and Objectives for Critical Infrastructure Control Systems (Akin Gump)
  2. You Don’t Have to Climb the Corporate Ladder! You Can Create One. Business Ownership Exploration: Take Control of Your Life and Your Career (TAP into)
  3. Goals vs. Objectives: Why You Need Both to Succeed (Learn Hub)
  4. 56 Strategic Objective Examples For Your Company To Copy (Clear Point Strategy)
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