In order to prosper and grow, all businesses need goals at every stage in the business lifecycle. There’s no denying the importance of business goals. Strategic goals represent critical or important achievements in your organisational strategy. Goals provide direction, motivation, and a clear way to measure your progress. They’re objectives to be achieved over the next three to five years, which link out to your measures and initiatives.
Without goals, the business may struggle to find the path from where they are right now to where they want to be. These goals will identify what you’re working toward as a business.
Goals vs Objectives
A goal is generally defined as something that an individual or group is trying to achieve. People often set goals within a specific time frame so there is a deadline for completion.
Both short- and long-term goals may need to be broken down into a set of tasks — doing so essentially turns one goal into several mini-goals. These tasks, or action steps designed to work toward a larger goal, are often referred to as objectives.
Objectives are measurable and specific actions that can be taken to achieve an end result. They are often planned and carried out on a shorter-term basis and may be designed to help an individual, group, or business reach a broader, long-term goal.
The terms goal and objective are often used interchangeably, and both refer to an aim or desired outcome that a person or group hopes to accomplish. However, goals often point to a larger purpose, a long-term vision, or a less tangible result, whereas objectives tend to be time-limited, measurable actions with tangible outcomes that help push progress toward broader goals.
What is a SMART Goal?
The SMART approach to handling goals describes a method for setting and working toward goals, and the acronym stands for the following:
- Specific: Clearly define goals as succinctly as possible.
- Measurable: Identify metrics for measuring progress and success.
- Achievable: Set realistic goals that can be completed within specific parameters.
- Relevant: Ensure that goals are worth pursuing.
- Time-Bound: Assign deadlines to goals and related action steps.
Using the SMART framework for managing goals and objectives can help you examine the motivation behind pursuing a certain goal. It can also help you determine what resources will be required to reach that goal.
The SMART guidelines break down the goal planning process into clear steps so that vital questions can be answered efficiently.
- What exactly needs to be accomplished?
- How will you know when your goal has been reached?
- What is the timeline, and who is responsible for the different actions required to reach the goal?
SMART goals may be especially useful when dealing with complex goals that need to be broken down into multiple, actionable steps that you delegate to various team members and track over time. This framework can also be combined with other strategic planning by analysing strengths and weaknesses, identifying internal and external resources, and evaluating risk. Planning for potential problems and tracking metrics closely can help reduce risk, keep progress on track, and increase the chances of reaching a goal by the desired completion date.
Long and Short Term Goals
Goal setting can follow many different processes, and each one can be successful as long as it defines the long- and short-term goals and devises a plan for getting there.
Many businesses develop 10-year plans and five-year plans. These long-term goals are powerful tools to motivate you to reach your potential. But, while you are planning your future, don’t overlook the benefit of setting short-term goals along the way.
When setting goals, you want to set both short-term and long-term goals. A short-term goal is a goal that is designed to be completed in a short period of time. Typically, short-term goals span a few days or a few weeks and never last longer than six months. Long-term goals span longer periods of time and can take six months or longer to complete. Sometimes you have to set short-term goals to help reaching your long-term goals more manageable. These are called enabling goals because they enable you to reach your long-term goal.
As you set and reach short-term goals, you will be more motivated to reach your long-term goals. When you set long-term goals, you have something to motivate you and give you a sense of purpose.
What do Goals and Objectives Look Like?
To give you an understanding on what your business goals and objectives can look like, we’ve provided three of each below.
- [Business Name] will to be the best cleaning service in the city
- [Business Name] will be the number 1 supplier of….
- [Business Name] will maintain currency in terms of professional knowledge.
- [Business Name] will reduce complaints by 5% by June next year.
- [Business Name] will gain 10% new clients by June next year.
- [Business Name] will deliver 90% of the contract by…
Setting Your Goals
Goal setting doesn’t have to be a long and complicated process. It is a bit like creating your Vision or Mission – once you get started it really does not take that long. You need to pick a theme, identify the necessary action items, and commit to the process.
The business goal-setting process includes three phases:
1 – Pre-work before goal setting:
The best place to begin specifying goals and objectives is with a review of the mission statement of your business. Using key phrases from your mission statement to define your major goals leads into a series of specific business objectives.
2 – Goal setting itself
There should always be key phrases in the mission statement lead to major goals, which lead to specific business objectives.
3 – Ongoing management after setting goals.
Part of successfully setting goals is tracking how far you’ve come, so if you are not achieving what is required, adjustments can be made before too much time is lost.
Types of Goals to Set for Your Business
When you work through and start setting your business goals below, it can start to build a framework for your business. They can also be used to develop a business plan to continue to develop your business.
Day-to-day work goals which are directed at increasing the everyday effectiveness of the business and may include things like order tracking, office management, or customer follow-up. As a start, name at least one change that you can make in your day-to-day operations that will make a difference in your overall effectiveness. Write it down in the form of a business goal.
Problem-solving goals which address specific challenges that confront your business, such as low employee morale or quality of service issues. List the two biggest problems that face your business, and then write goals that can solve them.
Development goals are about the acquisition of new skills and expertise, whether for your employees or for yourself, and whether you run a large business or operate as a freelancer or an independent contractor. Formulate at least one development goal for yourself or your business?
Innovation goals can help you find new ways to improve the products or services that your business offers, how you market your business, and how you distribute and deliver what your business sells. Can you identify any innovative approaches that could make your business more effective in the future? If so, formulate an appropriate goal.
Profitability goals set your sights on where you want your bottom line to be. When all is said and done, profit is the No. 1 goal for profit-making companies. For non-profit companies, this goal may take the form of how many dollars in contributions you plan to raise or a goal for increasing the endowment of the business.
Goal setting is an important part of starting and owning a business. Without business goals, you may find you are floundering in your business with no direction. Your business goals can keep you focused on where you want to be while helping you create a plan for getting there.
To see further how dita Solutions can help you develop effective business goals and objectives for your organisation, contact us here.
Download Our Free Template
Download our free and customisable SMART Goals Template. Our Template provides step by step instructions to help you get started with writing your own goals and objectives for your business.