The Difference Between Goals, Strategies and Tactics

When I’m helping businesses develop strategic plans, I frequently talk about goals, strategies and tactics.  The three are different things, but they’re also inter-related.  In this article I’ll show you the difference between goals, strategies and tactics and explain why you need all three.

What are your goals?

In your business, you should have some goals.  Sometimes you’ll also hear these referred to as ‘Objectives’.  Ideally you’ll have a number of very defined goals that are important to achieve.  Your business goals could be:

  • Financial goals – “To achieve revenue of $XX” or “Profit of $Y”.
  • Staffing goals – “To have XX number of staff” or “To have a full time staff member in the position of XYZ”.
  • Goals about market share – “To have XX% market share of the XYZ market”.

There are a lot of different types of goals or objectives you can set.  The important thing is to make sure they’re measurable, and contain a deadline for achievement.

What is Strategy?

The next step is to look at strategy.  Let’s assume one goal is built around selling a certain number of your product.  Strategy looks at the ways you could do this.  You may have more than one strategy for each goal or objective you have.

So a strategy could be to market your product to a certain type of user.  It could be about introducing a new product or service to meet the needs of your target market.

In later articles we’ll concentrate more on different strategies to grow your business.

Tactics – how you’ll do it

Tactics are the last piece of the puzzle.  For every strategy, there will be a number of tactics. These are the individual steps you’ll take to execute the strategy and achieve your goals.

Tactics could be based around activity i.e. every week contact X number of customers.  They’re the steps you need to take to achieve a goal.

When deciding on your tactics, include every step you can think off and decide on when the step is due to be completed, and who is responsible for completing it.

Goals, Strategy and Tactics – an example

Let’s assume one of your goals is to increase your revenue.

One strategy you may adopt to do this is to create a new product.  In this example, your strategy is to create an e-book on retirement planning that you can sell to increase revenue.

Let’s think through the tactics (or steps) you need to do to write the e-book.  Your tactics may include:

  • Decide on a topic for the book
  • See who your competition is and analyze their products
  • Decide on the relevant content to include
  • Find sources for the content
  • Write a chapter a week (or outsource this)
  • Find a designer to help with the design of the book
  • Decide how you’ll distribute the book
  • Complete the book by XYZ date
  • Have the book for sale by a certain date
  • Develop a marketing plan to promote the book

Tactics are usually inter-related and you’ll find yourself working on a couple of active tasks at any one time.  In the example above, you may be writing chapters for your book, but you’ll also be working on a plan to market the book once it’s complete.


So that’s a brief overview of the difference between your goals, strategy and tactics.  Your homework for today is to take some time out to think about your goals, and work on at least one strategy and set of tactics.

Leave a comment below to let me know how you go.

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Allan lives in Adelaide, South Australia with his wife and two boys. He is the founder of Blogger Business Plan and loves helping bloggers learn how to transform their blogs from hobbies into sustainable businesses.
When he's not blogging or working in his financial planning business, you'll find Allan playing guitar, reading or coaching his son's soccer team.

How to price your product or service ebook
7 Responses to The Difference Between Goals, Strategies and Tactics
  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Allan Ward, Allan Ward. Allan Ward said: Blog Business Plan The Difference Between Goals, Strategies and Tactics: When I’m helping businesses devel… […]

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    October 25, 2010 | 9:29 pm

    […] problems. It is useful, however, to focus on the direction of your business and the goals, strategies and tactics you can use to achieve your […]

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  4. […] discussion of the why’s and wherefore’s of an overall plan of action. This is a link to a short article written by an Australian blogger which I found in a search. I thought that […]

  5. […] discussion of the why’s and wherefore’s of an overall plan of action. This is a link to a short article written by an Australian blogger which I found in a search. I thought that […]

  6. gerben
    May 6, 2015 | 12:31 am

    Blogger doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
    He confuses goals with outcomes. You can’t set a ‘goal’ of reaching xx% market dominance. It’s an outcome.

    He describes strategy as a way of reaching the desired outcome. But that’s not what a strategy is. A strategy is a description of your situation, your unique strengths and a plan of how to focus your energy (and resources) in one way – and not another.
    The outcome of a good strategy might well be total market dominance. Simple goalsetting doesn’t get you there.
    Sorry, he really doesn’t get it.

  7. stanley
    June 5, 2015 | 4:36 am

    very nice differentiation of the items and this has really helped me in my homework on writing a business plan. Thanks for sharing!

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