• Setting business goals: The first step ...

Setting business goals: The first step to a successful business

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Business goals are a predetermined target that a business or individual plans to achieve in a set period of time. This article discusses the importance of business goals and reasons why you should set them for your team.

These are just a few benefits the goal setting process provides. Whether you're looking at the big picture or looking for small stepping stones, we'll explain everything you need to know to set goals for your business.

What are business goals?

Business goals are a predetermined target that a business or individual plans to achieve in a set period of time. These goals are often split into short-term goals and long-term goals . Business goals can be general and high level, or they can focus on specific measurable actions. 

A good example of a general business goal is a mission statement. Missions statements are a general goal because they don't have one metric that defines their success. They’re more often used as a guiding North Star—something your team can strive for as opposed to hitting hard numbers.

Alternatively, you can set specific goals—measurable goals that are easy to track as your team progresses towards them. When someone talks about "setting goals" or the "goal setting process," they're talking about specific goals. A common goal setting process to use is the SMART goals process .

Short-term goals

Short-term goals are often bound by a set period of time, usually ranging from a few hours to a full year. Long-term goals can also be time-bound, but if they are, they’re typically set further into the future. 

Short-term goals are often used as building blocks towards larger goals. A common strategy in business is to set multiple short-term goals to make the long-term goals more achievable.

Examples of short-term business goals:

Increase net promoter score by 10 points this quarter.

Hire 12 new support representatives by the end of the year.

Increase employee satisfaction by 20%.

Long-term goals

Long-term goals are bigger visions—goals you want to achieve further into the future. A common long-term goal is a 10-year goal. Think about where you want your business to be 10 years from now. What business objectives do you want to have achieved by then? What new businesses do you want to break into, if any? 

Long-term goals are often used as vision or mission statements —these goals serve as a compass for your business to help you move in the right direction. Think of your goals as a map to get you where you want to go. Long-term goals may not tell you how to get there exactly, but they point you in the right direction. Short-term goals are like a GPS. They provide step-by-step directions on how to get where you want to go. 

Examples of long-term business goals:

Nike : To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.

Patagonia : We're in business to save our home planet.

Google : To organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.

Why are business goals important?

Setting business goals is a best practice for a reason—goals help drive businesses in the right direction. Here are a few more reasons why companies take the time to establish strong goals. 

Confidently define success

One of the easiest ways to know if your team is successful is by clearly outlining what success looks like. When you set your goals, take into consideration what you know your team is capable of, and push them slightly farther than expected.

There are a few common frameworks used to define goals. One of the most common ones used to create measurable and actionable goals is the Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) framework.

Connect work to goals

A good business strategy to get into the habit of doing is connecting your business goals to the work your team is already doing. When you connect daily work to short- and long-term goals, individual team members have a clear sense of what they need to do, when they need to complete it, and the strategies they're doing to achieve those goals. 

Not only are team members more confident in what they need to do, but it gives them a sense of pride and ownership over their work. Team members are confident in how the work they’re doing impacts your business and how they’ve contributed to that success.

Keep teams aligned

A key benefit of using business goals is to align teams towards a common goal. Establishing clear business objectives allows team leaders to define which tactics their individual teams should use to achieve these goals. 

For example, imagine your company's overall business goal is to increase profitability by 10%. This is an overarching goal, but there are many different ways your company can achieve this. By establishing smaller, more tailored goals, business leaders can define the specific strategy you plan to take to achieve this goal. Your sales team may increase their sales quota, and your marketing team may implement a new outreach strategy. These are two different tactics that can be implemented to ultimately reach the same goal.

Maintain accountability

Once you set business goals, you can then break them down to the individual level. Using a technique like this can help maintain accountability from the leadership level all the way down to individual team members. When individual team members are responsible for their individual goals, it's easy for managers to gauge how they're performing and when they might need more support. 

Inform decision-making

If your company regularly tracks its business goals, you can use past goals as a way to inform your decision making process. For example, if your team sets up a new marketing strategy to track your goals and progress, you can use that information to set your business strategy for the next year based on performance.

Tips for setting clear business goals

Now that you know the reasons why business goals are important, here are a few tips on how to establish them.

Use a framework to set goals

If you're on the path to setting your first business goal, it can be challenging to figure out where to start. You want to make sure that your goal is achievable, but not so easy to achieve that it's not a challenge.  Goal setting frameworks like SMART goals or OKRs are a good way to establish your first set of business goals.

Co-create with other business leaders

Your team doesn't work in a bubble. The work that your team does can affect other teams in your company and your business strategy as a whole. This is why co-creating with stakeholders is important. By working together, your team can utilize their unique knowledge and experience to set goals and create a sound business plan.

Start with the big picture

When you're establishing your goals, choosing numbers and tactics can feel overwhelming. To prevent that, start with the big picture first. Focus on answering the questions:

What do you want your company to stand for? 

Why was your company created? 

Where do you want to be in 10 years? What about 25 years? 

Once you’ve defined a big picture mission, break it down into smaller, more actionable goals. What steps can you take to get there? What new products can you introduce to help achieve that overall, big picture mission? 

With goal setting, there is no right or wrong answer. It's all about finding the strategies and methodologies that work best for your team.

Manage goals using software

There's no use in setting goals if you set them and forget them in a document somewhere, only to be opened again at the end of a quarter. Using software to regularly track goal progress is important, and what better way to do that than to use software that connects your goals to the work that needs to be done? 

Connecting the work you’re doing to goals is easy. Guru aligns their company OKRs to their projects with Asana. The Guru team uses Asana as a source of truth for clarity and accountability company-wide.

Start setting—and achieving—business goals today

All businesses start small, and setting goals is how they grow into successful companies. If you're interested in learning more about different goal strategies, how to measure them, or where to start with planning, visit the Asana goals resource page for more information.

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Business Goals Examples, Definition & Importance | Full Guide 2023

Published: 25 June, 2023

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Stefan F.Dieffenbacher


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On the surface, Business Goals are simple: make enough money to run the business, expand as necessary, and provide for the people who own and operate the organization. Like a living organism, a business’s main goal is to survive and thrive.

But how do we achieve that? The broader goal of surviving is built upon smaller and more specific Business Goals that direct your strategy over a period of time as part of the strategic planning process.

Business goals are of paramount importance for several reasons, as they serve as a guiding force that directs an organization’s efforts, decisions, and strategies. We at Digital Leadership provide Business Model Strategy services and Digital Strategy Consulting to help you align with your business goals, ensuring that your path to success is well-defined and your strategies are optimized for achieving those objectives.


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Corporate training, innovation consulting and much more.

In this article, we discuss the variety of Business Goals you might choose to target to help secure your business’s survival and growth as part of the strategic planning process . You should be able to identify some goals that are specifically helpful for your business and begin the process of developing strategies to reach them as part of the strategic planning process

What are Business Goals?

A Business Goal is a target an organization wants to hit either in the short term or in the long term. You can think of a Business Goal as an endpoint or accomplishment the organization sets for itself in a given timeframe.

As we’ll see throughout this article, most Business Goals focus on advances like revenue, market penetration, growth, or shareholder value creation. But every business will have its own specific business goals.

Business Goals are written to be aspirational, without any indication of the specific strategies that the company will enact. Those plans are called Business Strategies and are developed after the company chooses its larger goals.

Business Strategy —the actual activities that an organization undertakes in order to meet its goals—is the topic of another Digital Leadership article that you might find helpful.

How to Develop your Business Strategy - Business Strategy Development

Business Goals vs. Business Objectives

Understanding how experts differentiate Business Goals from Business Objectives will be helpful as you define your business strategy.

A Business Goal is a long-range outcome that your teams use to help define strategies. A Business Objective is a short-term action you’ll take to help reach an overall goal.

Goals and Objectives combine to form your overall Business Strategy, or in other words, the map of what your company will do in the future in the hopes of achieving success in the priorities you’ve identified.

Many times, Business Goals and Business Objectives are terms used simultaneously and interchangeably. Understanding the distinction makes it easier to visualize the entirety of your business strategy.

Why Setting Business Goals is Important to Every Company?

Strong Business Goals are an important element of the overall package of documents that direct a company’s activities and priorities. Other pieces of that package include a Business Strategy , a Mission Statement and Vision, and the company’s Massively Transformational Purpose .

Business Goals give your organization a target. They articulate priorities and motivate employees. Business Goals make your company’s purpose clear.

Let’s look a little more closely at the power of Business Goals in motion.

(1) Goals Give your Business a Direction

Getting Business Goals onto the page or screen gives your organization a sense of direction. It facilitates the entire operation pulling for the same goals.

Coupled with a clear Business Strategy , Business Goals let every member of your organization know their role in the business’s overall purpose.

(2) Goals Give you a Way to Track and Measure Progress

Business Goals give defined metrics that you can track so you can measure your success and progress. They allow you to recognize failure so you can fail fast; a major element of innovation is making many iterations quickly so you increase the odds of success.

Related:  How to measure Innovation? Innovation Metrics for Companies

Because your Business Goals give clear, measurable touchstones, the entire organization, at every level, knows how their efforts are contributing to the business’s purpose.

(3) Goals Help you Stay Motivated

Who runs a race without a finish line? Business Goals are that finish line. It’s much easier to stay motivated when you know what you’re working toward. Since a business works as one unified organism, the goals work the same way for the combined organization.

Incidentally, this is why a series of smaller goals can be more effective than one larger goal. The energy we feel in reaching a goal powers us toward the next.

(4) Goals Help You Achieve Quicker Growth

Business Goals help you achieve quicker growth because they focus your efforts. Our experience indicates that commitment is an indicator of success. Since articulating Business Goals encourages deeper commitment, it follows that businesses making use of them would experience more positive outcomes.

Goals keep your team accountable. They force consideration of priorities and practices, which in turn help achieve quicker growth.

Our comprehensive book, ‘ How to Create Innovation ,’ offers in-depth guidance on developing a strategic business plan that is primed for innovation and geared towards achieving exponential growth . It provides valuable insights into how to leverage the Business Model Canvas to optimize your business model, enhance your value proposition , and drive exponential growth.


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+FREE access to 50+ complimentary download packages covering the details with plenty of helpful background information

Types of Business Goals

Depending on where your business is currently, and where you want it to be heading, you will choose your Business Goals from a set of four types.

Each type of Business Goal has its own advantages, and some of each of their characteristics overlap. Each of these types of goals can also vary in scope quite a lot—how you choose to articulate them will, again, depend on the specifics of your business’s current situation.

Business Goals Types

(1) Time-Based Goals

Every goal needs an endpoint. Deadlines focus the work your organization is doing and make reaching the goal much more likely. We believe that every Business Goal needs a target date, articulated within the context of the goal itself.

For a Time-Based Goal, the deadline takes center stage. Often, the accomplishment set forth in your goal has a deadline impressed upon it by outside forces: some presentation, governmental requirement, or new product roll-out, for example. The length of time you’re given to complete the goal determines what sort of specific Time-Based goal you’ve built.

– Short-Term Business Goals

Short-term goals are often used in conjunction with longer-term goals. They give the opportunity to celebrate reaching the endpoint more frequently, which makes short-term goals an excellent tool for motivation.

– Long-Term Business Goals

Long-term goals let you tackle large projects. These goals can last months, or even years, which is why short-term goals remain useful. Don’t lose sight of the finish line with these long-term goals. Find an opportunity to celebrate success incrementally.

(2) Goals Based on Performance

Goals based on performance are short-term targets identified as important for ongoing success.

Key to Performance-Based goals are reachable targets within appropriate timeframes. The metrics being used must also be clearly defined and easy to evaluate.

(3) Quantitative & Qualitative Goals

The difference between a Qualitative and a Quantitative goal is the type of data you’re collecting when you measure your success.

Quantitative Goals require collecting factual data. Typically, we think of quantitative data as originating in numbers or statistics, but all data can be used in statistics eventually. You can think of quantitative data as provable measurements, often very tangible.

On the other hand, Qualitative Goals are built around impressions and degrees, usually how someone feels about something or how they might describe an experience. Because these measurements can be harder to collect and the goals harder to define, managers must be careful with using them to determine employee evaluation results.

We recommend focusing on quantitative goals with a small dash of qualitative to help gauge consumer response and team member attitudes.

(4) Outcome & Process-Oriented Goals

The success of Outcome-Oriented Goals is determined by how and when your team reaches a certain goal. Outcome Goals are a pass/fail situation. Either you reach the desired outcome, or you don’t.

The success of a Process-Oriented Outcome is less specific. Instead of a desired targeted endpoint, a Process-Oriented goal requires the completion of a set of steps regardless of the outcome.

One way to think about the differences here is the classic line “It’s the journey, not the destination that matters.” A Process-Oriented goal favors the journey. For an Outcome-Oriented goal, the destination is everything.

Business Goals Examples

As we said previously, Business Goals will always be specific to the organization’s priorities, situation, and business model. There are some examples of common Business Goals that we can review, however, because it’s productive to review what successful businesses have done in the past.

Below, we provide a short description of each Business Goal example, as well as some thoughts on how it would look in practice for your business.

In each description, we mention how the goal is most likely to be positioned within your organization.

(1) Improve Your Company and Brand Reputation

Typically a long-term goal, improving your standing in the marketplace requires a qualitative approach to collecting responses from your customers and potential customers to understand their feelings toward your organization.

(2) Develop a Business Plan

This a short-term Business Goal that should be addressed early in your business’s lifespan.

(3) Improve Product or Service Quality

This is most likely a goal that will have short- and long-term steps on the way toward an overall improvement.

There is an aspect of qualitative data in this Business Goal, obviously, but you should try to quantify the improvement in quality as much as possible by comparing customer responses over time to track growth and highlight where there’s work still to be done.

(4) Achieve Higher On-Time Delivery

For this goal, you’ll need to decide a time frame based on your specific needs. Perhaps, for example, you want to improve delivery during the holiday season. That would be a short-term Business Goal.

If you’re looking to improve delivery over time, your goal might be focused on Outcomes, hitting certain percentage benchmarks.

(5) Increase Customer Satisfaction

Another example of a Business Goal that requires the collection of qualitative data, is you can choose to make a short- or long-term goal depending on your business’s needs.

We tend to think that customer satisfaction should always have a role in what you measure to track business success.

(6) Improve Customer Retention

A mid to long-term Business Goal is usually measured through Outcomes, hitting certain metrics of returning customers or converting them into long-term contracts.

(7) Increase Sales Volumes

Another mid- to long-term Business Goal, increasing sales values uses quantitative measurements to determine if the business hit target Outcomes goals.

Instead of overall Sales Volumes, some businesses measure overall profit or average profit margins of goods and services sold.

(8) Optimize Product and Service Pricing

This long-term goal requires consistent monitoring of your profit margins and your customer’s perception of the value you’re providing, along with a review of competitive pricing.

(9) Increase Market Share

This is clearly a mid to long-term quantitative goal.

Our experience tells us that the more targeted you can be here, the more productive improvements can be. Select a specific segment or product type and focus your efforts there.

(10) Improve Profit Margins

Another finance-based Business Goal, increasing profit margins is long-term, with several targeted earlier deadlines used to measure and promote success.

Improving margins may be a long-term goal that uses several of the other goals listed in this article to help achieve success.

(11) Increase Profits

Increase sales, increase margins, reach into new markets—ultimately, many of these goals are driving a move toward increased profits.

Many businesses make sustainably increasing profits a long-term goal. The exact metrics used to measure this, as well as the target benchmarks they need to reach to be successful, vary greatly from one organization to the next.

(12) Develop New Customers

Measure how many new customers you acquire over a given time. This is likely a mid to long-term goal that requires close measurement of who is buying your product or service.

(13) Expand Into a New Geographic Market

Expansion is a long-term Process-based Business Goal. This goal is clearly very specific to your business because it’s dependent upon so many different factors, including current location, desired expansion, and Business Model.

(14) Market Through a New Channel

Like all Business Goals focused on expansion, finding new channels is a Process-Oriented goal.

The wording of this goal is easily changed to move from Process to Outcome once you advance from merely wanting to market through a new channel to actually quantitatively measuring your sales.

(15) Develop A New Product or Service

A mid to long-term goal of developing a new product or service is Outcome-Oriented, but there will be a number of smaller Process-Oriented goals along the way, most likely.

You’re also likely to transition to other quantitative goals that measure the success of your new products and services. They need to exist first, of course!

(16) Implement an Employee Development Program

A simple development program might be implemented fairly quickly, but a rigorous program that tracks how your employees progress is a long-term goal that requires a lot of effort. We believe a development program pays dividends in the long run by making it easier to retain quality employees and grow a pipeline to senior management

(17) Increase Employee Satisfaction

This is a goal that can span any timeframe, depending on the business’s needs but is more likely to focus on mid- to long-term qualitative measuring. This goal’s metrics can slide into the quantitative when you collect data about employee longevity and retention.

(18) Decrease Expenses

An Outcome-Oriented goal, decreasing expenses can occur over any amount of time you choose. You may consider being more targeted and aim to decrease certain expenses by a given date.

(19) Implement Productivity Improvements

For this goal, you’ll need to select quantitative metrics for productivity. Since every business is different, you’ll decide what measurements work for you.

For example, you may be holding your productivity to a very high standard. LEGO , for instance, has famously rigorous quality standards.

Productivity improvements are usually long-term goals, with several medium- and short-term goals used to motivate and track changes.

(20) Migrate To a New Technology Platform

The adoption of new technology can be a challenging, frustrating goal because so many departments with different priorities are involved. In order to successfully reach this goal, you’ll rely on a combination of qualitative and quantitative metrics.

A deadline will be important, along with the functionality of the new technology. In some instances, the aesthetics of the technology will play an important role in the measuring of success.

Is a partial roll-out all right? A soft opening? Do you need complete functionality on day one? How compatible must the new technology be with the previous tech?

These are all important elements that should be articulated as part of your overall Business Goal.

(21) Make Investments for the Future

How big will your investments be? What will they look like? How far into the future are you aiming for?

We see investment as a mid-to-long-term goal. Consider if you’re collecting cash to have on hand, acquiring the latest equipment, or performing routine maintenance on your building. These activities, and far more, would count as sensible investments for the future.

(22) Increase Shareholder Value

Publicly traded companies are required to grow their shareholder value. Privately held companies may still have stockholders in other capacities, so improving their standing is always a long-term goal.

Outcome-oriented, the goal of increasing shareholder value should have a benchmark target with a clearly articulated deadline. How much increase, and by when?

– Short-Term Business Goals Examples

  • Develop a Business Plan
  • Improve Product or Service Quality
  • Market Through a New Channel
  • Implement an Employee Development Program

– Long-Term Business Goals Examples

  • Increase Shareholder Value
  • Make Investments for the Future
  • Migrate To a New Technology Platform
  • Decrease Expenses

– Performance-Based Goals Examples

  • Develop A New Product or Service
  • Increase Profits
  • Increase Sales Volumes
  • Improve Customer Retention

– Qualitative Goals Examples

  • Increase Employee Satisfaction
  • Increase Customer Satisfaction

– Quantitative Goals Examples

  • Achieve Higher On-Time Delivery

How do you Choose your Business Goals?

When it comes to setting business goals, having a structured approach is crucial to ensure that your goals are realistic, in line with your overall strategy, and can be measured to track progress. The balanced scorecard is a strategic management tool that can assist in achieving these objectives.

The Balanced Scorecard

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The balanced scorecard connects different aspects of a company’s strategy in a cause-and-effect relationship. This approach enables businesses to ensure that their goals are consistent with their overall strategy and that they are measuring the right elements to achieve success.

Using the balanced scorecard to determine business goals involves several key considerations:

  • Use the SMART Goals Framework: The SMART acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Using this framework ensures that your goals are well-defined, easily measured, achievable, relevant to your business model and purpose, and have a specific deadline.

SMART Business goals

S – Each goal must be as SPECIFIC as possible

M – Each goal must be MEASURABLE , even if you’re aiming for qualitative targets

A – Each goal must be realistically ACHIEVABLE

R – Each goal must be RELEVANT to your overall business model

T – Each goal must be TIME BOUND to a realistic deadline

The SMART Goals Framework prevents the selection of goals that are counter-productive, wasteful, or impossible to achieve. Choosing the wrong goals is worse than having no goals at all: improper goals suck time, motivation, and resources from the areas of the business where they could be better utilized.

  • Ensure Goals are Measurable: Each goal should have a method for collecting data that proves progress or lack thereof. Even if the goal is qualitative, there must be a means of measuring progress towards achieving it.
  • Ensure Goals are Attainable: Choosing goals that are impossible to achieve is counterproductive. This is especially true for businesses whose organizational strategy makes certain goals challenging to reach. Ensure all the components of your business are working together towards a shared objective.
  • Complement your Business Model and Purpose: Select goals that align with your overall business model and vision. Don’t compromise your vision for the sake of creating a list of goals.

Once you have established your business goals using the balanced scorecard, it becomes easier to track progress and make informed decisions about how to allocate resources and improve performance. By using the SMART framework in conjunction with the balanced scorecard, businesses can establish specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goals that are both attainable and consistent with their overall business strategy.

How do you Reach your Business Goals?

There’s no one-size-fits-all guaranteed plan for reaching your business goals, but our experts agree the following strategies give you the best odds for success.

  • Commit to your Goals: Don’t let minor setbacks force you to deviate from your well-researched goals.
  • Regularly Check Progress: Be on top of your metrics, and automate the measuring process as much as you can so you keep an up-to-date view of your progress.
  • Maintain Accountability: Make sure everyone knows who is responsible for which elements of your goals.
  • Celebrate Milestones & Achievements: It’s important to identify smaller goals that you can recognize and celebrate.

Connecting The Dots With Business Model Canvas

In the modern business environment of modern business, setting clear and strategic business goals is a fundamental step toward success. Whether it’s increasing revenue, expanding market reach, enhancing customer satisfaction, or improving operational efficiency, these goals serve as the guiding stars that illuminate an organization’s path forward. The Business Model Canvas , a widely acclaimed strategic tool, comes into play. It serves as a versatile and visual platform for organizations to not only define their business strategies but also to align these strategies meticulously with their overarching goals.

Business Model Canvas Template

  • Alignment with Business Goals and Strategy: Business goals provide direction, and the Business Model Canvas aligns them with strategy, ensuring coherence in the organization’s purpose and growth plans.
  • Customer-Centric Approach: Goals related to customer satisfaction and growth link to the business model canvas Customer Segments and Value Proposition , forming the basis for business purpose and growth.
  • Financial Targets and Strategy: Financial goals tie into the business model canvas Revenue Streams and Cost Structure, crucial for both strategy and financial planning.
  • Market Expansion and Reach: The BMC Channels and Customer Relationships support the goals of market expansion and customer engagement, vital for strategic planning and business growth .
  • Resource Allocation and Execution: Achieving goals often requires resource allocation, reflected in the Key Resources and Key Activities sections, influencing strategy and execution.
  • Partnerships and Efficiency: Goals focused on cost efficiency relate to business model canvas Partnerships and Cost Structure , impacting strategy and efficiency.
  • Innovation and Improvement: Goals involving innovation align with the business model canvas Key Partnerships, Key Activities, and Key Resources, reflecting a commitment to improvement in strategy and growth.
  • Measuring Success Holistically: The Business Model Canvas aids in measuring progress across goals, informing decisions for business strategy , planning, and overarching business purpose

Frequently Asked Questions

1- what are business goals examples.

Some common business goals include Developing a Business Plan, improving product or Service Quality, Market Through a New Channel, Achieve Higher On-Time Delivery, and Increase Shareholder Value.

2- What is the most important goal of a company?

The most important goal of a business is to sustainably provide value to its customers in a way that secures the business’s long-term future.

3- What are SMART business goals?

SMART is an acronym for choosing quality business goals. It means Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound

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What Is a Business Plan?

Understanding business plans, how to write a business plan, common elements of a business plan, how often should a business plan be updated, the bottom line, business plan: what it is, what's included, and how to write one.

Adam Hayes, Ph.D., CFA, is a financial writer with 15+ years Wall Street experience as a derivatives trader. Besides his extensive derivative trading expertise, Adam is an expert in economics and behavioral finance. Adam received his master's in economics from The New School for Social Research and his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in sociology. He is a CFA charterholder as well as holding FINRA Series 7, 55 & 63 licenses. He currently researches and teaches economic sociology and the social studies of finance at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

business plan business goals

A business plan is a document that details a company's goals and how it intends to achieve them. Business plans can be of benefit to both startups and well-established companies. For startups, a business plan can be essential for winning over potential lenders and investors. Established businesses can find one useful for staying on track and not losing sight of their goals. This article explains what an effective business plan needs to include and how to write one.

Key Takeaways

  • A business plan is a document describing a company's business activities and how it plans to achieve its goals.
  • Startup companies use business plans to get off the ground and attract outside investors.
  • For established companies, a business plan can help keep the executive team focused on and working toward the company's short- and long-term objectives.
  • There is no single format that a business plan must follow, but there are certain key elements that most companies will want to include.

Investopedia / Ryan Oakley

Any new business should have a business plan in place prior to beginning operations. In fact, banks and venture capital firms often want to see a business plan before they'll consider making a loan or providing capital to new businesses.

Even if a business isn't looking to raise additional money, a business plan can help it focus on its goals. A 2017 Harvard Business Review article reported that, "Entrepreneurs who write formal plans are 16% more likely to achieve viability than the otherwise identical nonplanning entrepreneurs."

Ideally, a business plan should be reviewed and updated periodically to reflect any goals that have been achieved or that may have changed. An established business that has decided to move in a new direction might create an entirely new business plan for itself.

There are numerous benefits to creating (and sticking to) a well-conceived business plan. These include being able to think through ideas before investing too much money in them and highlighting any potential obstacles to success. A company might also share its business plan with trusted outsiders to get their objective feedback. In addition, a business plan can help keep a company's executive team on the same page about strategic action items and priorities.

Business plans, even among competitors in the same industry, are rarely identical. However, they often have some of the same basic elements, as we describe below.

While it's a good idea to provide as much detail as necessary, it's also important that a business plan be concise enough to hold a reader's attention to the end.

While there are any number of templates that you can use to write a business plan, it's best to try to avoid producing a generic-looking one. Let your plan reflect the unique personality of your business.

Many business plans use some combination of the sections below, with varying levels of detail, depending on the company.

The length of a business plan can vary greatly from business to business. Regardless, it's best to fit the basic information into a 15- to 25-page document. Other crucial elements that take up a lot of space—such as applications for patents—can be referenced in the main document and attached as appendices.

These are some of the most common elements in many business plans:

  • Executive summary: This section introduces the company and includes its mission statement along with relevant information about the company's leadership, employees, operations, and locations.
  • Products and services: Here, the company should describe the products and services it offers or plans to introduce. That might include details on pricing, product lifespan, and unique benefits to the consumer. Other factors that could go into this section include production and manufacturing processes, any relevant patents the company may have, as well as proprietary technology . Information about research and development (R&D) can also be included here.
  • Market analysis: A company needs to have a good handle on the current state of its industry and the existing competition. This section should explain where the company fits in, what types of customers it plans to target, and how easy or difficult it may be to take market share from incumbents.
  • Marketing strategy: This section can describe how the company plans to attract and keep customers, including any anticipated advertising and marketing campaigns. It should also describe the distribution channel or channels it will use to get its products or services to consumers.
  • Financial plans and projections: Established businesses can include financial statements, balance sheets, and other relevant financial information. New businesses can provide financial targets and estimates for the first few years. Your plan might also include any funding requests you're making.

The best business plans aren't generic ones created from easily accessed templates. A company should aim to entice readers with a plan that demonstrates its uniqueness and potential for success.

2 Types of Business Plans

Business plans can take many forms, but they are sometimes divided into two basic categories: traditional and lean startup. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) , the traditional business plan is the more common of the two.

  • Traditional business plans : These plans tend to be much longer than lean startup plans and contain considerably more detail. As a result they require more work on the part of the business, but they can also be more persuasive (and reassuring) to potential investors.
  • Lean startup business plans : These use an abbreviated structure that highlights key elements. These business plans are short—as short as one page—and provide only the most basic detail. If a company wants to use this kind of plan, it should be prepared to provide more detail if an investor or a lender requests it.

Why Do Business Plans Fail?

A business plan is not a surefire recipe for success. The plan may have been unrealistic in its assumptions and projections to begin with. Markets and the overall economy might change in ways that couldn't have been foreseen. A competitor might introduce a revolutionary new product or service. All of this calls for building some flexibility into your plan, so you can pivot to a new course if needed.

How frequently a business plan needs to be revised will depend on the nature of the business. A well-established business might want to review its plan once a year and make changes if necessary. A new or fast-growing business in a fiercely competitive market might want to revise it more often, such as quarterly.

What Does a Lean Startup Business Plan Include?

The lean startup business plan is an option when a company prefers to give a quick explanation of its business. For example, a brand-new company may feel that it doesn't have a lot of information to provide yet.

Sections can include: a value proposition ; the company's major activities and advantages; resources such as staff, intellectual property, and capital; a list of partnerships; customer segments; and revenue sources.

A business plan can be useful to companies of all kinds. But as a company grows and the world around it changes, so too should its business plan. So don't think of your business plan as carved in granite but as a living document designed to evolve with your business.

Harvard Business Review. " Research: Writing a Business Plan Makes Your Startup More Likely to Succeed ."

U.S. Small Business Administration. " Write Your Business Plan ."

  • Business Development: Definition, Strategies, Steps & Skills 1 of 46
  • Business Ethics: Definition, Principles, Why They're Important 2 of 46
  • Business Plan: What It Is, What's Included, and How to Write One 3 of 46
  • Organizational Structure for Companies With Examples and Benefits 4 of 46
  • Which Type of Organization Is Best For Your Business? 5 of 46
  • What Are the Major Types of Businesses in the Private Sector? 6 of 46
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  • Venture Capital: What Is VC and How Does It Work? 15 of 46
  • Startup Capital Definition, Types, and Risks 16 of 46
  • Capital Funding: Definition, How It Works, and 2 Primary Methods 17 of 46
  • Series Funding: A, B, and C 18 of 46
  • Small Business Administration (SBA): Definition and What It Does 19 of 46
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  • What is the C Suite?: Meaning and Positions Defined 21 of 46
  • Chief Executive Officer (CEO): What They Do vs. Other Chief Roles 22 of 46
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  • Human Resource Planning (HRP) Meaning, Process, and Examples 24 of 46
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  • What Is Brand Personality? How It Works and Examples 26 of 46
  • What Is Brand Management? Requirements, How It Works, and Example 27 of 46
  • What Is Brand Awareness? Definition, How It Works, and Strategies 28 of 46
  • Brand Loyalty: What It Is, and How to Build It 29 of 46
  • Brand Extension: Definition, How It Works, Example, and Criticism 30 of 46
  • What Is Social Networking? 31 of 46
  • Affiliate Marketer: Definition, Examples, and How to Get Started 32 of 46
  • What Is Commercialization, Plus the Product Roll-Out Process 33 of 46
  • Digital Marketing Overview: Types, Challenges & Required Skills 34 of 46
  • Direct Marketing: What It Is and How It Works 35 of 46
  • Marketing in Business: Strategies and Types Explained 36 of 46
  • What Are Marketing Campaigns? Definition, Types, and Examples 37 of 46
  • How to Do Market Research, Types, and Example 38 of 46
  • Micromarketing Explained: Definition, Uses, and Examples 39 of 46
  • Network Marketing Meaning and How It Works 40 of 46
  • Product Differentiation: What It Is, How Businesses Do It, and the 3 Main Types 41 of 46
  • Target Market: Definition, Purpose, Examples, Market Segments 42 of 46
  • Outside Sales: What They are, How They Work 43 of 46
  • What Is a Sales Lead? How It Works and Factors Affecting Quality 44 of 46
  • Indirect Sales: What it is, How it Works 45 of 46
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41 Business Goals Examples to Set in 2023 and Beyond

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  • Goal Management

What Are Business Goals?

4 goal frameworks with examples, manage business goals in weekdone.

Business Goals with Target and leaders

For more than 10 years Weekdone has provided tens of thousands of teams from startups to Fortune 500 with world leading goal-setting software called Weekdone . These are our lessons learned.

Organizations invest time and resources in determining where to target their collective efforts. Whether your business goals and objectives center on strategic planning, expansion, or sustainability, they are a pivotal point in the expansion of any organization. They assist in several ways, from enhancing customer service to boosting revenues. In the end, they contribute to establishing the company's main goal.

You may have come across many long-term and short-term goal-setting methodologies or frameworks in the business sector, such as Objectives and Key Results (OKR) , Balanced Scorecard (BSC), SMART goals, and so on. 

  • OKRs - Objectives and Key Results - as implemented in products like Weekdone are today's de-facto standard for goal-setting in teams and companies
  • SMART goals can help you handle the bumps on the road. 
  • Business model and vision statement provide a big picture view of your firm and what you want to achieve, 
  • Short-term and long-term business objectives describe the exact techniques you'll employ to get there.

It's time to advance with a proactive, strategic strategy that prioritizes pressing problems and helps us avoid making snap judgments in the future. Let's go through the ultimate strategies for setting great business goals for 2023 and beyond.

Business goals are the aims that a company expects to achieve within a specific time frame. You may define business goals for your entire organization as well as specific departments, staff, management, and/or clientele.

Goals often indicate the wider purpose of a firm and seek to set an ultimate goal for staff to strive toward. The time period you set your goal for will determine whether it's considered short-term or long term.

Short term goals are usually those which can be achieved in one or two working quarters (3-6 months) sometimes maybe a year, depending on how committed the organization is.

Further, when thinking of a long term goal - it's typically one set with a date to accomplish within one year or more.

📚 What's the difference between goals and objectives ?

A goal framework is a systematic way of defining goals. Although these frameworks vary in terms of precise rules and methods, they are all intended to simplify the goal management process to maximize the probability of achievement. This generally entails breaking down larger and more complicated goals into smaller steps and activities that should be completed within a specific period.

The 4 goal-setting frameworks listed below are among the most widely used and successful frameworks available today.

4 goal setting frameworks - OKR, MBO, SMART, and BHAG

Objectives and Key Results (OKR)

OKR stands for " Objectives and Key Results ." This popular goal management framework focuses on development and progress by setting proper quarterly goals - leveraging the ability of your teams to achieve results. Weekdone is a tool to implement OKRs in your team.

Using OKRs is critical for attaining collaborative success and fulfilling the organization's bigger vision. This framework helps businesses to keep alignment and engagement on the quantifiable metrics that actually matter!

OKR methodology entails defining objectives, involving individuals in the goal-setting exercise, and fostering an open and transparent culture. Maintaining this culture requires persistent and regular OKR check-ins to keep you on track and ensure you never lose sight of your priorities. OKRs have been embraced by many big corporations and charitable groups, including Netflix and Code for America.

Learn more about the best practices for tracking OKRs , why it is important, and how to use OKRs effectively throughout the company.

Get 14-day trial of Weekdone . Invite your teams and set better business goals with OKRs. Try it now .

How to Write Good OKRs

Writing OKRs at the Company or Team level lets you clearly view your core challenges and improvement possibilities and separate them from day-to-day activities. Good objectives bring teams together, foster long-term growth habits, and propel you to success. If you start using Weekdone , you can take advantage of the OKR examples in the software .

To create OKRs, you must first understand how to do them correctly. OKRs are composed of one main goal at the top and 3-5 accompanying key results. They may be expressed in the form of a statement.

Questions to help guide you in writing good OKRs - Weekdone Blog

Crafting Company Objectives

To begin, you need to create a corporate objective. The corporate goal should be wide enough to allow all teams to develop the most successful team goals. On the other hand, it should be detailed, so everyone understands the company's direction.

Ultimately, the company objective helps to establish a quarterly focus for the entire organization. Team objectives are then developed based on this high-level focus.

Developing Team Objectives

Once the company's Objective(s) is established, individual teams should work together to discuss their relative objectives. These motivating goals should be consistent with the general direction of the firm. They should create focus, a sense of urgency, and a sense of collective purpose. Furthermore, they are intended to represent challenges to be solved or possibilities for progress to be pursued during the quarter.

Pro Tip: In Weekdone , we recommend linking your team objectives to the company objective - creating the company OKR. This goal alignment tactic ensures that everything is moving as one cohesive organism.

Creating Key Results for Your Objectives

Objectives on all levels are subdivided into quantifiable key results used to track your success and progress toward the "O". As a result, key results they must be time-bound, detailed, attainable, and quantifiable. While the goal is to fix or enhance the problem, crucial findings indicate whether the problem was successfully solved.

Keep in mind: Efficient Key results are lofty but attainable metrics -they are not KPIs or projects. KR's are always tied to both the quarter and the objectives.

OKR Examples

By identifying some OKR examples to model and practice with, it will be much simpler to adopt the framework in your business effectively. Here are some example Objectives and their Key Results for different business departments:

Sales & Marketing Departmental OKR Examples

Example okr #1:.

Objective: Improve our overall sales performance. Key Result 1: Maintain a sales pipeline of quality leads worth at least $400K each quarter. Key Result 2: Increase the closure rate from 20% to 23%. Key Result 3: Increase the number of planned calls per sales rep from three to six per week. Key Result 4: Increase the average contract size from $12,000 to $124,000.

Example OKR #2:

Objective: Build a netbook of business recurring revenue to stabilize the firm. Key Result 1: Achieve $300,000 in monthly recurring revenue ($MRR) before the end of Q1. Key Result 2: Increase the proportion of subscription services sold against one-time contracts to 60%. Key Result 3: Increase the average paid subscription value to at least $400. Key Result 4: Increase the percentage of yearly renewals to 70%.

Example OKR #3:

Objective: Bring in as many high-quality leads to assist the sales team. Key Result 1: Develop three new case studies aimed at new consumer categories. Key Result 2:  Update the normal sales deck and discussion track with new products/offers. Key Result 3:  Try to double the number of online form leads. Key Result 4:  Organize two sales training sessions.

Example OKR #4:

Objective: Improve the quality of our outbound sales strategy. Key Result 1: Ensure that at least 75% of prospective parties are contacted directly within three working days. Key Result 2:   Consult with productive team members to determine what works in the sales process and develop a sales cheat sheet. Key Result 3: Publish a best practices sales process document with the lowest permitted service levels

Example OKR #5:

Objective: Generate sales leads of greater quality. Key Result 1: Create a set of lead metrics and prepare queries for CRM collection. Key Result 2:   Ensure that at least 75% of leads performed mandatory questions/answers. Key Result 3: Streamline the gathering of data from our database to CRM. Key Result 4: Redesign the user interaction form by adding three additional mandatory structured questionnaires.

Example OKR #6:

Objective : Extend our reach and brand recognition beyond our present geographic boundaries. Key Result 1:  Improve signups from transformational change leadership articles by 3% Key Result 2:  Boost publication subscriptions by 300 Key Result 3: Enhance web traffic from additional target areas by 12%.

Example OKR #7

Objective : Improve our SEO. Key Result 1: Get 20 fresh backlinks from relevant sites each quarter if your domain score exceeds 50. Key Result 2: Optimize our on-page optimization and improve ten pages every quarter. Key Result 3:  Increase the speed of our website to improve our speed score. Key Result 4:   Write one new blog article weekly optimized for our list of targeted search terms.

Example OKR #8

Objective : Foster a sense of community among our clients. Key Result 1:  Develop a best-practices-based customer community approach. Key Result 2:  During the first half of the year, produce 20 articles showing client satisfaction. Key Result 3:  We get 25% of our clients to engage in the community using discount opportunities. Key Result 4:  Earn five favorable PR mentions for our consumers this quarter.

Example OKR #9

Objective : Increase brand exposure and reputation. Key Result 1:  Roll out a new weekly magazine with valuable material and thought leadership. Key Result 2: Deliver five new value-added posts with over 250 words of content every month. Key Result 3: This quarter, obtain two favorable media exposure PR spots in our community. Key Result 4: Amass 10 reviews with five stars on Google and Yelp this quarter.

Example OKR #10

Objective : Deliberately and consistently enhance the competencies of our staff. Key Result 1:   Every member of the team has a personal growth plan. Key Result 2:  All workers have received 360-degree feedback. Key Result 3: Every manager has a one-on-one at least every other week. Key Result 4: Create a strategy for effective intervention opportunities to address capacity shortfalls.

SMART Goals for Business

SMART goals for business

SMART business goals give you the blueprint to make your overarching business aspirations a reality.

James Cunningham, Arthur Miller, and George Doran initially presented this method for defining goals in 1981. Setting SMART goals allows you to articulate your thoughts, organize your efforts, use your time and resources better, and enhance the odds of reaching your goal. Questions to ask when setting SMART goals:

  • What exactly do you want to accomplish?
  • What are your numeric priorities or restrictions regarding effort, expense, and time?
  • How realistic is it? See committed or aspirational goals
  • Does the goal apply to you and your company?
  • What are your timeframes, deadlines, and quantifiable constraints?

SMART goals do not have a certain cadence or use case; they are suggestions and a descriptive set of criteria to use while considering what you want to accomplish. You may establish them for certain periods, departments, individuals, or tasks.

How to Write SMART Goals

Consider using the SMART steps to help you reach your goals:

  • Specify your goal.
  • Create a measurable goal.
  • Set attainable goals.
  • Ensure that it is relevant.
  • Develop a time-bound plan.

SMART goals can be implemented in any section of a business. If you're unsure whether it's worthwhile to plan it out for your organization, consider using free online goal-setting tools.

SMART Business Goals Examples

1. i want to boost my revenue.

  • Specific: I plan to boost revenue while decreasing spending. Shifting to a more affordable location, which would reduce my rent by 7%, will lower my operational expenditures.
  • Measurable: I plan to increase sales over the following five months by signing up three additional potential clients.
  • Attainable: I plan to strengthen my current client connections and develop the company through recommendations, networking, and social media. This will assist me in generating more leads, resulting in a rise in income for the company.
  • Relevant: Moving to a less expensive location will lower my company's operational costs, allowing for profit growth.
  • Time-bound: By the end of the next three months, I will have doubled my profit.

2. Set Up a Virtual Sales Communication Link

  • Specific: Our remote sales crew should have connectivity across the board and be fully functional.
  • Measurable: The mission is fully functional when running the routing protocol, and our remote employees can start working.
  • Achievable: This goal may be lofty, but we may bring it to the top of the list of priorities and briefly divert assets from longer-term initiatives to finish it.
  • Relevant: Even if there is no epidemic, remote work is an excellent option. Remote networking assists people in being productive and organizations in achieving goals in a post-COVID environment.
  • Time-bound: This objective has a time constraint of seven days.

3. I Want To Improve My Business Operations Efficiency

  • Specific: I'll strengthen the effectiveness of my daily operations by putting pressure on my sales team to raise their closing ratio from 30% to at least 40%.
  • Measurable: Salespeople are expected to enhance their closing ratio from 30% to 40%, and delivery time is expected to be reduced from 72 hours to 12 hours.
  • Attainable: I'll run a poll to determine what the notion means to both clients and the sales staff. I'll put it in place as soon as the concept is approved.
  • Relevant: expanding the number of motorcycles and pickup trucks that will provide delivery services for us will aid the strategy's success.
  • Time-bound: This should take place within a year.

4. I Want To Expand My Business Operations

  • Specific: During the next three years, open three additional branches around the country
  • Measurable: The goal is to boost the company's operations and revenue. This, in turn, will encourage the establishment of three additional branches.
  • Attainable: More manufacturing will increase my present selling space by 25%. This will allow me to save for the projected expansion to four branches around the country.
  • Relevant: Growing production, operations, and income will result in a larger customer base; therefore, opening new branches will not waste time.
  • Time-bound: The establishment of the branches should take place during the next three years.

5. My goal is to increase employee retention

  • Specific: In 90 days, I will reduce staff turnover by 25% by training new workers to let them understand what is expected of them and a strategy to assist them in becoming acquainted with the operational processes.
  • Measurable: the increase in staff turnover is expected to be roughly 25% and should occur within 90 days.
  • Attainable: training courses and one-on-one sessions will guarantee that personnel are ready for what is required of them when they start working in production.
  • Relevant: exceptional personnel will be considered for a reward scheme. There will be motivational training for individuals who are having difficulty.
  • Time-bound: Within 90 days, staff turnover will have improved.

OKR Goals vs. SMART Goals

OKRs and SMART goals may appear to be very comparable on the surface. However, they have entirely different use cases. OKR is regarded as a more advanced method for creating corporate-wide goals.

OKRs are intended to propel firms to growth and long-term progress. They operate best with a quarterly goal-setting cycle and regular weekly check-ins to keep track of progress and stay on target. SMART goals are one-time objectives created for smaller initiatives without a direct or established link to higher-level objectives.

Management by Objectives (MBO)

Document review in performance management MBO

Management by Objectives, abbreviated "MBO," is a management concept created by Peter Drucker in the late 1960s as he began to propose better methods for managing skilled workers over agricultural and industrial employees who came before them.

Staff objectives are set using the main business goals, with this framework. MBO enables everyone in the firm to evaluate what they have done concerning the company's key objectives and priorities while completing duties. This demonstrates how action and outcome are linked and how they may significantly boost productivity.

MBO Examples

MBO can be used and possibly benefit a variety of sectors. Here are some real-world applications for MBO:

Human Resources: MBO may improve employee happiness, hold workplace events, and increase staff participation.

Company Performance: Using MBO to boost gross margins, minimize carbon footprints, enhance sales, and so on.

Marketing: MBO may help you reach goals like boosting email subscriptions, expanding social media followers, and tripling online traffic.

Customer Service: Minimizing incident rates, boosting associate accessibility to assist in customer disagreements, and speeding up a dispute resolution.

Sales: Reduce the sales cycle from six to three months, boost average revenues to $10,000, and acquire 15 new clients over a certain period.

In reality, a clear objective setting in areas where the organization may now fall short may assist all facets of a company, from human resources to marketing to sales to information technology and everything in between.

OKR vs. MBO 

The most notable difference between these two frameworks is that OKR is about outcomes, rather than outputs. OKR has been known to foster more important cross-departmental and team discussions to get to the greater problem or big picture ideas. Management by Objectives has been linked to performance management and is driven by outputs - both of which are very different from the Objectives and Key Results goal management framework.

Read more on the difference between OKR and MBO . 

Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAG)

Business goal type - Big Hairy Audacious Goul

BHAG stands for 'big, hairy, audacious goals' and refers to lofty ambitions that may appear impossible in the short term but give a crucial feeling of aspiration and emotional energy to propel the business to the top.

The concept, coined by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras in their book Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies, often defines long-term strategies tied to your company's fundamental beliefs and ideals. BHAGs are long-term in nature, with a time frame of 10 to 25 years optimal. They should be based on the goal and guiding principles of your company.

Tips for Developing Your BHAG

Here are some helpful hints for developing a BHAG for your company:

  • Employees are inspired to strive for the final objective since it is so large and inspirational;
  • The BHAG may be broken down into sub-goals, which is a huge motivator;
  • Your objective is specific;
  • Don't forget to set a time limit.

BHAG Examples

  • Make your eatery the go-to choice for royalty and international leaders when they need catering.
  • Establish a nonprofit organization to find a treatment for a serious illness like Parkinson's or arthritis.
  • Make your business more than just a producer of mobility aids by creating the first all-terrain wheelchair that improves the lives of millions of people.
  • Surpass Starbucks and McDonald's in brand recognition. It can also work in other industries by modifying it to become as recognizable a name as McDonald's in your chosen field.
  • Make your art gallery the most well-known in the world. One in which all the greatest artists compete to have their work showcased.
  • Become a billion-dollar corporation in two decades. Some of the world's top corporations began on kitchen tables with a BHAG.

More Business Goals Examples

Without rhyme or reason, implementing a new framework or not - you can always begin with some statement areas for improvement. We’ve created a list of example goals you can work with immediately in your organization. These are great to get started in your free Weekdone trial .

1. Increase Market Share

This goal is customer driven. The idea is to sell more of your product to your target consumers, thus, increasing overall market share for your product for investors. For example, if you operate a B2B company, your goal should be to reach out to more company heads or HR departments. If you operate a small business that focuses on building computers, you’ll want more of the local population to come to you for your services.

2. Increase Community Outreach

Becoming part of the community is a fantastic way to connect from the B2C side. Whether you are a large company contributing to community efforts through sponsorship or a small company that volunteers to help for Little League Baseball, community outreach is an excellent goal for new and established organizations alike. Increasing community outreach is especially important if your company or organization doesn’t have a good reputation with a particular group (I.E.: environmentalists).

Likewise, community outreach is essential if you are providing human necessities. For example, if you run a small scale grocery store, community outreach is what’s gonna keep you above water when competing with larger corporations. 

3. Maintain Profits

Financial goals are one of the most useful top-level objectives you can have. By nature, they are both aspirational and measurable, which equally makes financial-driven objectives essential for getting the goal setting process started for young businesses.

Maintaining profits (as opposed to increasing revenue) calls for a balance between profitability and investments. Investments are necessary to test out changes in the market and expand the business, so by establishing a balanced goal, you can reason how much money can go into growth and new projects/tools/campaigns while still reaching a paired profit goal. 

4. Reduce Energy or Decrease Unnecessary Use of Resources

This is a double-sided issue. If you are providing a service or product that requires being PHYSICALLY, cutting back on using that energy to save money means you can put that money to things that are more useful and productive (such as expanding or improving the product). This can be as minimal as cutting down on electricity. 

If your product isn’t physical, this goal equally applies to cutting out company tools by trying to find software or systems that maximize your company’s alignment and productivity. Aiming for 1-2 communication tools, for example, cuts out company miscommunication by having conversations spread out over several apps, messaging programs, and document sharing platforms. 

5. Grow Shareholder Value

Increasing shareholder value is an extension of increasing profit for consumers. Increasing the overall value of your organization can refer to reputation, profit, or any other classification of “value.” The most important aspect of this goal is to specify what that value is and structure your Key Results, projects, KPIs, etc. around this. 

6. Increase Percentage of Sales Made with New Product Features

When developing new products or features, promoting them so sales can close more deals/sell more of the new product should be one of your main priorities for increasing profit. This justifies the expenses from investing in the new product or feature in the first place and aims to ensure that the investment was worth it and will turn a profit. 

7. Invest in Quality Management

Total Quality Management (TQM) is all about continuing to reduce manufacturing error and streamlining a supply chain with physical products. It equally applies to both when dealing with improving customer experience and training staff. Improving quality across a wide variety of areas is a great company level goal that’s easy to align since each team or department can be held accountable for their own work. 

8. Focus on Leadership Skills for Team Members

Training employees is one thing, making them comfortable so they can speak for themselves and encouraging creative, out-of-the box behavior is another. If your company wants more input from lower levels, then this is important.

9. Maintain or Decrease Debt

Easily measurable, this category falls under finances as well. Maintaining a certain amount of financial debt is important… especially for businesses that are just getting started and may not have the profits to cover debt costs.

10. Balance Budget for X Period

Balancing a budget is a great top level goal for non-profits. Likewise, this goal is a great for teams who may get a set amount to invest in campaigns or projects quarterly or annually. 

11. Calculate and Create the Best Value of Product for Cost

This is on marketing and sales, so is a better team goal example than a company goal. The idea is to focus on selling customers that they are getting the best deal. Whether you’re selling something top of the line for high cost or a cheap, low-cost alternative that doesn’t have the polish of a different brand, you need to highlight to your customers why your product balances value and cost.

12. Make Product More Reliable/Create a Reliable Product

Making your product more reliable is a great way to gain customers while maintaining pre existing ones. This short term goal can be worked on quarter after quarter - split up the tasks by first reviewing existing value points, competitors and current positioning - then continue forward as you learn and explore more to prepare for development.

13. Cross-Sell to Long Term Customers

So, you have people buying a product of yours. A good goal for sales is to sell them on more products. This builds brand loyalty.

14. Best Customer Service

Dealing with the external face of your company, offering the best customer service means that consumers are happier with the overall experience of buying or using your product.

15. Team Building/Diversity Training Goals

A classic in HR teams, team building and diversity training focuses on employee satisfaction to prevent turnover and allow environments where everyone is comfortable enough to share their ideas.

It's now time to sign up for your free Weekdone trial and get going.

The first step is to set up a goal for your firm or team. Each goal you establish has an impact on the next. As a result, ensure that your business goals and objectives are adaptable. Whether you are a small firm or an expert in your profession, consistently analyzing your work, raising your work standards, and expanding your goal list is the way to progress.

Efficient goal alignment promotes a greater sense of participation and direction among employees in a firm. The OKR process is at the forefront of assisting companies in aligning their aims through important results and activities.

Weekdone is your leading OKR software for status reporting, aligning team OKRs with business goals, and visualizing weekly and quarterly achievements. The fundamental concepts of appropriate alignment, structure, and connectivity are important to us. From the ground up, we can make your organization feel more connected by achieving business goals together. Sign up now .

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How to set achievable business goals

The importance of setting business goals, types of business goals, choosing the right goals is a process.

Vector of an arrow hitting a bullseye. Represents setting effective business goals.

How to Set Small Business Goals

Kody Wirth | Oct 29, 2023

How happy are you with your business’s performance? Are you patting yourself on the back, having nailed every goal? 

If the answer is no, you’re like many business owners who struggle to hit business targets. You know exactly what you want—a bigger business, larger per-customer sales, more leads, higher profits—but you struggle to meet your goals.

In this article, we’ll show you how to set clear and actionable business goals to help you reach your full potential as an entrepreneur. 

There is always so much to do when you’re a business owner. You need to find new clients, keep your existing clients happy, manage your finances, streamline your processes, and motivate your employees—all at the same time. Here’s how you sort through all that clutter and set goals to move the needle.

1. Clarify the goals you’ll prioritize

To ensure you don’t waste time and money—you must know your top priorities when setting company goals for the year. These should be clear opportunities or issues that show the most significant potential to grow your business.

So, how do you identify them?

A SWOT analysis provides a simple but effective framework. You’ll look at your business and competitors to identify potential advantages and shortcomings that can set you apart. 

If you’re an up-and-running business, you’ll find additional value by reviewing your financial statements and forecasts . 

  • Where did you over or underperform?
  • Is your cash on hand what you expected?
  • Are you overspending in any areas?

Answering questions like these will help you understand your current financial position. From there, you can dig deeper into specific departments, initiatives, line items, etc., and uncover what opportunities are worth tackling in the next year.  

Example: You run a local salon, and during your review, there was an immediate red flag—revenue is down. Exploring a bit further, you found that the average order value of each customer had decreased and that the number of new customers was far lower than the previous year. 

Considering those issues, you develop the following business goals:

  • Introduce new product offerings and add-ons to increase revenue from existing clients.
  • Increase client base by targeting local office workers.

Please note: These aren’t goals yet! They are your key areas to focus on. After you’ve discussed them with your team—which we’ll cover next—you’ll turn them into SMART goals (specific, measurable goals) to ensure that you’ll take action on them.

2. Review these goals with your team

Your team is out there every day, working on your products or talking to clients. They are the people who can tell you what’s working and what’s not, what’s holding your business back, and where you should be focusing your efforts and setting your business goals for the year ahead.

So, once you’ve selected what you think should be the top goals for your business, sit down with your employees, and get their feedback. They may agree or have valuable insights that you haven’t considered.

By involving your employees in the goal-setting process, you make them feel valued and engaged while at the same time ensuring your goals are realistic and achievable.

Dig deeper:

How to set team goals that actually work

Part of getting your team involved in the goal-setting process is breaking down company objectives into team goals. Here are some tips to make these individual goals just as effective.

3. Make your goals SMART

You have two to three business goals. Now, it’s time to make them actionable. While you can use several different goal-setting frameworks to do this, we recommend SMART goals:

  • Specific: What exactly are you going to do?
  • Measurable: How will you know if you are succeeding?
  • Achievable: How will you implement the goal?
  • Relevant: Does the goal connect to your overall objectives?
  • Timely: When will you achieve the goal by?

Let’s take one of our business goals and turn it into a SMART goal.

Original idea: Increase client base by targeting local office workers.

  • Specific: Gain 20 new customers from the surrounding office buildings.
  • Measurable: Measure progress by tracking the number of new customers won and profits made while maintaining our existing customer base.
  • Achievable: We will create a customized sales promotion, which we will publicize via leaflets and flyers in the office building.
  • Relevant: This will help us increase the number of new customers, thus growing the salon business and profits.
  • Timely: We will achieve this by the end of Q2 2024.

How to set SMART business goals

Walk through a more detailed example of the SMART goal framework and learn how to use it with your own business goals.

4. Set key performance indicators (KPIs)

The SMART goal format should give you an idea of your timeline and what it will take to achieve your goal. However, you need to establish how you’ll measure your progress. One of the most common ways to do this is by adopting Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) .

These numerical values, like the number of new clients from a specific campaign or monthly sales targets, indicate whether the goal is within reach. While creating SMART goals, you’ll define relevant KPIs, ensuring they align with company and individual objectives. 

For example, a salon might have overall KPIs related to customer acquisition from a campaign, while a stylist might focus on customer satisfaction and spending KPIs.

12 tips to help you choose effective KPIs

Learn how to choose the right metrics to measure your progress with these tips from experienced entrepreneurs

5. Set a structure to review and revise

If you want to make something happen, you need to create a schedule and build good habits around it.

If you want to get healthier, you need to add exercise to your schedule, plan time to cook healthy meals, and so on. You should treat your business goals the same way. You need to schedule the actions you’ll take to reach your KPIs.

It’s a great idea to put regular (possibly monthly) business plan review meetings on your company calendar now This will help you set, revisit and revise specific short-and-long-term business goals and objectives.

To make these meetings less overwhelming, try and automate as much as possible. Use a calendar for both you and your staff, and add reminders and online task management software to organize tasks, set deadlines, and prompt you for repeat actions. 

How to develop an action plan

Learn how to adapt every step in the goal-setting process into an actionable plan that keeps you and your team members on task.

Why are goals important? Here are a few reasons:

Goals provide clarity

There are plenty of things that you want to accomplish as a business owner. But what tasks are most important? How do you know if you’re making progress? 

Setting well-structured goals will help you prioritize work, establish a direction, and provide a framework to measure success. No more random assignments or distractions—just a clear idea of what you want to achieve and how you’ll get there.

Goals motivate and align your team

Aimlessly taking on work does not lead to success. Without a set goal, there’s no shining beacon ahead that you’re trying to reach. And no milestones on the way there to celebrate and keep you going.

Having company and team goals provides greater motivation. It also makes it far easier to set individual goals that connect each employee’s work to that larger objective. 

Goals provide a structure to measure success 

Setting goals requires you to consider what metrics you’ll use to measure success. Doing this upfront makes tracking your progress much more manageable and lets you know if you’re still on track.

Skipping the goal-setting process means your ideas of success will remain vague and aimless. You’ll be more likely to run down unproductive rabbit holes and may never actually realize your aspirations.

Goals help your business grow

Much like writing a business plan increases your chances of successfully launching a business —setting goals increases your chances of achieving regular business growth. You’ll have well-structured ideas of where you want to go, how to get there, and if you’re progressing. 

And by continuing to set, review, and revise your goals—you’ll speed up the process and avoid costly mistakes.  

The goal-setting process in this article focused primarily on long-term business performance goals—the kind you’ll set once a year. These broader goals may focus on any of the following:

Financial goals

Whether it’s achieving a specific net profit margin or finding ways to cut back on certain expenses—these goals focus on growing or maintaining financial health.

Customer-related goals

These goals are all about better serving your target customer. This may include improving customer service, increasing repeat purchases, or expanding your clientele.

Operational goals

Sometimes, you’ll find savings by optimizing current workflows. This could mean reducing product production times, eliminating error rates, or streamlining your supply chain.

Marketing and sales goals

Marketing and sales goals can be broad, like boosting brand awareness, or very specific, like improving specific channel sales or launching a new marketing campaign.

Employee and team goals

These are goals focused on reducing employee turnover, boosting team spirit, or furthering education to keep everyone at the top of their game.

Sustainability and social responsibility goals

These are goals that may not directly impact your bottom line. Instead, they focus on accomplishing an altruistic mission such as shrinking your carbon footprint or giving back to the community.

Innovation and development goals

Far more opportunistic and research-based goals that could include launching a new product, embracing the latest tech, or venturing into new markets.

Compliance and risk management goals

Goals to ensure your operations meet all legal requirements and have strategies in place to dodge financial and operational pitfalls.

Selecting goals and creating a plan to reach them takes time. Even by following the steps in this article, there’s no guarantee that you’ll select the best opportunity and be able to efficiently pursue it. 

That’s why the review process is so crucial. Rather than pursuing a goal that won’t make an impact, you can quickly pivot if you realize something isn’t working. 

Goal setting is just the start, and plenty of other ways to better manage and grow your business. 

  • Create a business strategy
  • Manage during a crisis
  • Selling your business

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Business goals FAQ

What are business goals?

Business goals are broad, overarching targets a business aims to achieve over a specific time frame. They provide direction and help inform your business strategy.

What are business objectives?

Business objectives are specific and measurable steps taken to achieve a business goal. They’re often short-term and have clear criteria to indicate when they’re achieved.

How are business goals and objectives different?

While business goals set the overall direction and vision, objectives are the actionable steps taken to reach these goals. Think of goals as the destination and objectives as the roadmap.

What is an example of a set goal?

An example of a set goal might be: “Increase brand awareness in the market by 20% over the next year.”

What is a common business goal?

A common business goal is “Increase annual revenue by 10%.” This is a benchmark value focused on growth and profitability.

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6 examples of objectives for a small business plan

Table of Contents

1) Becoming and staying profitable

2) maintaining cash flow , 3) establishing and sustaining productivity , 4) attracting and retaining customers , 5) developing a memorable brand and marketing strategy, 6) planning for growth , track your business objectives and more with countingup.

Your new company’s business plan is a crucial part of your success, as it helps you set up your business and secure the necessary funding. A major part of this plan is your objectives or the outcomes you aim to reach. If you’re unsure where to start, this list of business objective examples can help.

In this guide, you’ll learn:

  • Becoming and staying profitable 
  • Maintaining cash flow 
  • Establishing and sustaining productivity 
  • Attracting and retaining customers 
  • Developing a memorable brand 
  • Reaching and growing an audience through marketing 
  • Planning for growth

One of the key objectives you may consider is establishing and maintaining profitability . In short, you’ll aim to earn more than you spend and pay off your startup costs. To do this, you’ll need to consider your business’s starting budget and how you’ll stick to it. 

To create an objective around profitability, you’ll need to calculate how much you spend to start your business and how much you’ll have to spend regularly to run it. Knowing these numbers will help you determine the earnings you’ll need to become profitable. From there, you can factor in the pricing of your products or services and create sales goals . 

For example, say you spend £2,000 on startup costs and expect to spend about £200 monthly to cover business expenses. To earn a profit, you’ll first need to earn back that £2,000 then make more than £200 monthly. 

Once you know what you’ll need to earn to become profitable, you can create a realistic timeline to achieve it. If demand and sales forecasts suggest you could earn about £700 monthly, you may create a timeline of 5 months to become profitable. 

Maintaining cash flow is another financial objective you could include in your business plan. While profitability means you’ll make more money than you spend, cash flow is the cash running in and out of your business over a given time. This flow is crucial to your company’s success because you need available cash to cover business expenses . 

When you complete services, clients may not pay out an invoice right away, meaning you won’t see the cash until they do. If you make enough sales but have low cash flow, you’ll struggle to run your business. So, create an achievable and measurable plan for how you’ll maintain the cash flow you need. 

For example, if you spend £500 monthly, you’ll need to ensure you have at least that much available cash. On top of that, anticipate and save for unexpected or emergency expenses, such as broken equipment. To maintain your cash flow, you may want to prioritise cash payments, introduce a realistic deadline for invoices, or create a system to turn your profit to cash. 

Aside from financial objectives, another example of objectives for a business plan is sustaining productivity . When you run a business, it can be overwhelming and challenging to stay on top of all the tasks you have to get done. But, if you aim to remain productive and create a clear plan as to how, you can better manage your to-do list. 

For example, you may find project management tools that can help you track what you need to do and how to organise your priorities. You may also plan to outsource some aspects of your business eventually, such as investing in an accountant. 

Other than planning how you’ll get things done, you may want to create an objective for developing and retaining a customer base. Here, you may outline your efforts to find leads and recruit customers. So, establish goals for how many customers you want to find in your business’s first month, quarter, or year. Your market research can help you understand demand and create realistic sales goals. 

If you start a business that customers regularly need, like hairdressing, you may also want to create a strategy for how you’ll retain customers you earn. For example, you could introduce a loyalty program or prioritise customer service to build strong relationships. 

Another example of objectives for a business plan is to develop a memorable brand and overall marketing strategy . Your brand is how you present your business to the public, including its unique tone and design. So, here you might research how to make a brand memorable and consider what colour scheme and style will best reach your target audience. 

To measure your brand’s progress, you could hold focus groups on understanding what people think of your overall look. Then, surveys can help you grasp the reach of your reputation over time.

Aside from tracking the success of your brand strategy, you may want to consider your business’s marketing approach. For example, you might invest in paid advertising and use social media. You can measure the progress of this over time by using tools like Google Analytics to track your following and reach. 

Finally, creating an objective for your company’s growth will help you understand and plan for where you want to go. For example, you may want to expand your services or open a second location for a shop. Whatever ideas you have for the future of your business, try to create a clear, measurable way of getting there, including a timeline. You may also want to include steps towards this goal and savings goals for growth. 

To achieve and track your business plan objectives, you’ll need to organise your finances well. But, financial management can be stressful and time-consuming when you’re self-employed. That’s why thousands of business owners use the Countingup app to make their financial admin easier. 

Countingup is the business account with built-in accounting software that allows you to manage all your financial data in one place. With the cash flow insights feature, you can confidently keep on top of your finances wherever you are. Plus, the app lets you track and manage what you spend on your business with automatic expense categorisation. This way, you can stick to your budget and plan to accomplish your objectives.


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