Olive & Co
Close this search box.

Goals vs. Objectives: What’s the Difference?

Goals vs. objectives. They mean the same thing, right? “Business goals” and “project objectives” are phrases so frequently thrown around in company meetings, you’ve probably assumed they’re interchangeable terms.

That’s where you’re wrong.

Though they’re used similarly, the two concepts have crucial differences that allow you to not only clarify what milestones you’re reaching for, but also create the roadmap to get there.

Goals vs. Objectives: Setting the Record Straight

business goal is a long-term, overarching, all-encompassing milestone your business is working toward that informs the work your company does on a day-to-day basis. Your business goal is your “why” for your work—why you’re investing your time, money, and energy into your company.

For instance, one of your business goals might be to increase revenue by 15 percent by the end of 2018. This goal is long-term and seems almost lofty, just reading it. Brainstorm for a moment, and think about how you’d reach that goal. More than a couple tactics come to mind, right?

Enter: project objectives. Project objectives are the short-term, specific tactics you’ll use to reach your business goal. If a business goal is your “why” for your work, your project objective is your how. For the example listed above, here are some project objectives you could develop: 1) improve social media engagement by 20 percent by the end of Q2; 2) build two new personas to target audience segments you’re missing out on; 3) improve site conversion rate by 5 percent by the end of Q3. All of these objectives can contribute to you meeting your business goal and, most importantly, they can all be measured and adjusted based on their contribution.   

Reach Your Milestones

Business goals and project objectives are undoubtedly similar, but they’re anything but interchangeable. If your business goal is to climb a mountain, your project objectives are the ropes, boots, and carabiners that help propel you toward the summit. They all have very specific roles to play in helping you get to where you want to be.

Using project objectives and business goals will not only help you reach your goals more efficiently, but they’ll also help you pinpoint your raison d’etre, and embolden your staff to keep pushing forward toward your common goal.

Looking to set goals that will resonate with your team? Follow our step-by-step guide to setting SMART goals to keep your company pushing toward that finish line.


Picture of Nora Allen
Nora Allen
Nora's appreciation of good storytelling leaks not only into her work at Olive, but also her love for music and food that's too good for words. When she isn't working hard on the Olive blog, you can find Nora geeking out about keyword research and SEO.