Once you've identified business goals, you need to determine how you will reach them. The steps you take to reach a goal are your business objectives. Like goals, objectives should be SMART - they need to be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound. There are several types of business objectives, all of which should tie directly to a goal to help you move toward it.
Example Business Objectives for Sales Goals
Most companies hope to improve sales from year to year. It's the only way to continue to grow and find success. To increase sales, your organization will have to create and execute specific strategies designed to bring in new customers.
Examples of business objectives include:
- Create a survey to discover how the top 20% of our customers found the firm, and increase investment in those marketing strategies by October 1
- Create a loyalty or frequent buyer program to encourage repeat customer sales by December 1
- Create a client referral program by November 15 to increase our brand's reach
Depending on your specific sales goals, you may need to focus your objectives regionally or even internationally. You may also want to create objectives for each quarter or each month to make sure you're staying on track.
Sample Objectives for Customer Service Goals
Customer service can be what sets your company apart from the competition. Sure, many companies sell green widgets, but if you can do it with great service and a smile, people will choose to buy from you. You also don't want to spend tons of money on customer acquisition just to lose it with poor customer service.
You may choose to focus on customer service objectives such as:
- Hire and fully train five new customer service staff members by July 15
- Install online chat as a help option by September 30
- By November 1, translate our most used support documents into Spanish
When you provide excellent customer service, you will not only keep customers, you can generate excellent business from referrals as well. It's like having your very own volunteer sales force!
Example Financial Objectives for Profit Goals
When you increase sales, sometimes you increase costs as well. As a result, you end up with no more cash in the bank than you started with. To really boost your company, you need to increase sales and cut costs at the same time. With the right objectives, you can meet your profit goals.
Some ways you might boost profit include:
- Get three new price quotes for green widget suppliers by June 1, and evaluate changing suppliers to save costs
- Create a program to ask for cost-saving ideas from employees by September 1, and include a prize for winning suggestions
- Evaluate company travel expenses by July 15, and create a list of ideas for possible savings
You can also create objectives that review raising prices, focusing on especially profitable customers, or other ways of reducing overhead expenses.
Sample Employee-Focused Business Objectives
Not all your business goals should focus outside your organization. To succeed year after year, you must build the right team and keep your key employees engaged and happy. Multiple studies show that turnover can cost you up to twice the employee's annual salary. Avoiding these costs not only improves your profit, but it also improves productivity and morale as well.
You can create these types of objectives to focus on your staff:
- Implement a targeted 90-day onboarding program by December 1
- Create a system for responding to written employee concerns by May 1, and communicate the process to all staff by June 1
- By September 1, train all managers on how to help employees develop and achieve career goals
When you invest in your employees, the benefits impact far more than your bottom line. John Deere measures employee morale every two weeks, which shows how important motivation and engagement are to innovation and team health.
Operational Objectives Examples
Business objectives sometimes focus on tangible aspects of operations. These objectives often relate to improving productivity or boosting capacity.
- Increase widget production by 25% by December 31
- Upgrade plant equipment that has been fully depreciated by October 1
- Add a new production line that will be fully functional by November 15
Start-Up Business Example Objectives
When starting a new business, it's likely that the initial objectives will focus on actions necessary to launch operations. For a start-up, it's important to have short-term objectives in place from the outset in order to focus activities on those things most vital to getting the business off the ground.
- Secure business funding necessary to launch operations by August 1
- Secure a city business license by September 1
- Sign a lease for office space by September 10
Importance of Strategic Business Plan Objectives
Whether your company is a start-up or an established firm, it's important to have a solid business plan that includes strategic business objectives. For business objectives to be strategic, they have to be clearly linked to the overall mission and goals of the organization. For each objective, it's important to make sure that accomplishing the objective will make progress toward the overall organizational mission and link directly to one or more overall business goal. Including strategic objectives in your business plan allows you to show not only what your business seeks to accomplish, but how it is going to do so.
Why Business Objectives Sometimes Change
It's important to review business objectives periodically, both to verify whether progress is being made and to determine of the objective might need to be adjusted. Business objectives need to be flexible enough to change as the needs of the business evolve. A variety of factors could lead to a need to change business objectives, including things like increased or decreased competition, economic factors, or technology developments relevant to the company's products or services. Savvy business leaders are constantly monitoring the internal and external business environment to determine if the company's objectives might need to be adjusted in order to maximize competitive advantage.
Implementation Is Key
To keep your business plan from being a document that gathers dust and nothing more, write a solid business plan focused on action. Break each objective into steps and assign due dates and responsibility. You may even want to assign a 'champion' to oversee each area of goals and objectives, such as a customer service champion. By holding everyone accountable, your company will be able to execute its objectives and reach its goals.