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Setting Goals vs Objectives

Goals and objectives are two very distinct things. They are also very fundamental to the business. In this post I really want to describe the differences and help set a good understanding and technique for choosing and planning to reach your goals and objectives.

Objectives can be defined as a planned path, in which there is a certain result sought out for in the end. Objectives are meant to be specific, and can be long or short term. Objectives are specific and yet general, as they do not set you apart from competition but they are used as a way to plan for milestones and track them as you achieve them.

When defining yours business objectives you want to make sure they have these elements:

  • Optimistic objectives
  • Specific objectives (or narrow)
  • The result is measurable
  • Can be defined as long term or short term
  • They are realistic compared to how your business is growing
  • What type of work they classify as
  • Are often but not limited to financial milestones

A good rule of thumb when setting objectives for your business plan is thinking about when you intended to reach this objective. If you can reach an end, for example earning $100 000 in one year, then you are on the right track. For business plans you should include your major objectives, I usually list about 10 – 15, some may do more or less. The rest of the objectives that are extremely short term end up in our personal files so that we can track.

Goals can be defined as an intention you have for the business. These intensions never truly end, they are what your business continues to strive to do every year. They are more often than not finite and what set your business apart from others. Your goals may define how you wish to interact with customers, or how you plan to grow throughout your whole businesses life.

Goals should be:

  • Broad
  • Intangible
  • Difficult to measure as they is really no end
  • Have general intentions
  • They are often abstract

Goals are the broad intentions you have for the business, and often objectives help to support what your goals are. For example a company may choose to have a 3% increase in customers every year of operation. This would be a goal, and in order to achieve this goal we must set objectives.

Lets go through an in-depth example. A few goals of my portfolio and blog are to generate freelance income, open opportunities, building a reputation, and have it work with my future degree for opportunities to arise. From this point I would set up objectives, which are the smaller and help me to reach these goals time and time again.

Lets break it down shall we, the numbers will be my goals and the ones classified under each will be my objectives.

  1. Generate freelance income. I will achieve this by:
    1. Advertising myself through social media, and set an objective of reaching 5 clients in my first year.
    2. Creating some template content which I can sell, creating a new piece every 3 months to build up my shop.
    3. Hand out 100 business cards within the span of three months to get possible clients interested.
  2. Open opportunities for career paths. I will achieve this by:
    1. Meeting three influential people in the industry and keeping in contact with them in my last two years of university.
    2. Keep my portfolio up to date by added and editing every three months.
    3. Gain a mentor for my last year of university to help me set up a plan for what comes next.
  3. Build a reputation. I will achieve this by:
    1. Treating every customer situation properly to my best ability.
    2. Interact with social media weekly to build a presence. Aim is to get 300 follows on Twitter and Facebook.
    3. Blog on a regular schedule, interacting with peers weekly in a positive light, gain 100 regular readers.
  4. Have it work with my future degree for opportunities to arise. I will achieve this by:
    1. Take projects in my university years that are related to courses I took.
    2. Do my best in my assignments and use them as part of my portfolio as well.
    3. Create two mock projects and three professional projects to display my skills.

Want some more information, feel free to contact me in the comments or even by email and I can help guide you on the right path. Some links you may find useful are:

  • Tulane has a great PDF on differentiating what the difference between an objective and goal are. They have a method called SMART which they explain in depth.
  • For Dummies, they have a who article about setting goals and objectives with some planning charts to help for the visual learner.
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