What are business objectives? Definition and examples

Pass a driving test. Become a black belt in jiu-jitsu. Knit a frilly frock. These are all objectives. What do they have in common? Not much — except that they’re all aspirational. Objectives take many forms, and you’re probably more experienced in goal-setting than you realise. That being said, a little clarity never hurt anyone. In this article, we’ll define business objectives, list some key benefits and provide examples for a range of office departments to boot. 

Let’s ease into it.

What is an objective?

Objectives, goals, strategies — these words may seem interchangeable, but in the world of business, they have different meanings. 

An objective is simply the answer to the question: What do you want to achieve? Whether that’s a pop shove-it or improving your business’ profits will depend on context (unless you’re Tony Hawk). For argument's sake, let’s assume you’re not and move on to defining company or business objectives. 

What is a business objective?

In the corporate world, objectives are qualitative statements that outline where you want your business to go. The overarching strategy of the business guides them. Increasing profits is probably the most common for-profit business objective, but boosting market share, sales and expanding customer bases follow closely behind. 

Businesses create objectives to:

  1. Establish a direction.
  2. Evaluate performance.
  3. Guide projects and decision-making.
  4. Encourage collaboration and motivate teams.

There are many ways to develop and achieve effective business objectives — our favourite being OKRs — but the driving force behind their success is strategic goals or results. These measurable statements enable you to track your progress and adapt your approach. 

But business objectives don’t only exist in the vague long-term. Organisations should develop short-term and long-term objectives that support each other. That’s where project objectives come in — they’re performance indicators specifically for short-term projects that work toward long-term goals.

What are strategic objectives?

In an organisation, strategic objectives implement a business’s goals. If your objective is your destination, your strategy is the road to get there. In simpler terms, your strategic plan is the steps you need to take — or the milestones you need to reach — to satisfy your broader business objectives. 

For example, if a company’s broad objective is to improve sales, a more strategic objective may be to grow sales by 10% by the end of the quarter by implementing further training and offering incentives for hitting targets. In most cases, it’s also important to assign specific tasks to help you meet your objectives within a certain timeframe. In this example, a manager might give training to specific employees with deadlines for completion.

What is the difference between strategic and business objectives?

Don’t worry — they sound similar because they are! Strategic and business objectives operate side-by-side to propel a company forward. They’re both steps to bring you closer to your company’s mission. There is, however, one key difference:

A business objective is what you want to achieve broadly, and a strategic objective is what you want to achieve specifically (and how you’ll achieve it). 

How to set measurable objectives

We’ve covered the what and the why — now let’s tackle the how. Rather than leaving things up to chance, we at Tability prefer to use a tried-and-tested approach — OKRs. The OKRs method helps your team set measurable goals and track their progress. It stands for Objectives and Key Results:

  • O — Objectives, A.K.A your business goals, as defined above.
  • KRs — Key Results A.K.A your strategy.

OKRs are written in three easy steps.

  1. Identify Objectives

Define business objectives by describing the broad outcome you want your organisation to achieve without numerical values and over-specifying.

  1. Define Key Results

Set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound) key results to determine success. Here’s a simple equation to help you get started.

Increase/decrease [metric] from X to Y

  1. Add initiatives

Develop a strategy for meeting your key results by planning how you will achieve them. Assign initiatives to employees.

5 examples of objective-setting by department

Confused? It may help to visualise what OKRs look like. Here are five examples of objectives in marketing, customer success, design, sales and HR teams.

Marketing objectives examples

Objective: Improve online presence

  • KR1: Increase Facebook followers from 10,000 to 15,000
  • Run a competition backed by paid ads
  • KR2: Increase home page visits from 5,000 to 8,000 a day
  • Complete a UX A/B test on home page design
  • KR3: Consistently achieve 100 views per day per article
  • Embed more keywords into articles
  • Email organisations for backlink opportunities

Customer success objectives examples

Objective: Increase customer satisfaction

  • KR1: Increase NPS from +32 to +45
  • Implement feedback from last NPS survey
  • KR2: Improve repeat customer rate by 15%
  • Offer a 20% discount to return via email
  • Create a customer loyalty program
  • KR3: Boost referral rate from 30% to 50%
  • Implement a referral program

Design objectives examples

Objective: Improve the UX of the checkout page

  • KR1: Reduce the number of steps to checkout from 5 to 3
  • Remove unnecessary information from the checkout process
  • KR2: Speed up payment processing on the app by 30%
  • Enable guest checkout option
  • KR3: Decrease cart abandonment from 20% to 5%
  • Improve clarity on shipping costs

Sales objectives examples

Objective: Boost sales revenue

  • KR1: Achieve 20% of new business in upsell/cross-sell 
  • Train sales staff in upselling and cross-selling
  • KR2: Increase conversion rate from home page from 15% to 20%
  • Add a pop-up to the site
  • Include testimonials on home page
  • KR3: Hit quarterly revenue of $300,000
  • Increase prices by 5%
  • Run a 15%-off sale

HR, People & culture objectives examples

Objective: Improve employee retention

  • KR1:  Decrease quarterly turnover from 20% to 10%
  • Boost salaries by 2% for high performers
  • KR2: Increase employee engagement score from 60% to 80%
  • Run social events during work hours
  • Provide free lunch once a week
  • KR3: Reduce number of complaints per week from 3 to 1
  • Provide feedback to managers regarding multiple complaints

Looking for more OKRs examples? Visit our OKRs library.

How to set good objectives with Tability 

What’s the difference between an objective and a good objective? One’s a vision and the other’s reality. 

So, how do you turn your OKRs into achievements? With outcomes, conversations and accountability. Tability is more than an OKRs platform — it’s a way to build empowered teams to push you toward your objectives. 

Set up, track and report on your objectives in one place with OKRs software that’s easy for the whole team to use. Sign up for a free trial of Tability today.

Looking for a simple OKRs process?

Monika Gudova

Content Writer and Editor

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