A friend drove me all the way from the ancient city of Zaria to Kaduna yesterday. He is a young entrepreneur, full of energy and determination. I see him as someone who will succeed immensely in no sooner time. We started talking about business and the opportunities that are yet to be fully harnessed. We talk a lot on how politics affects the business climate here in Nigeria; on what it takes to build a business empire from ground up.
Then I asked him a question: What his strategy is in taking over a particular niche market for an agricultural product. That’s where my friend lost it and so many other young and experienced entrepreneurs and business persons. Let me quickly add here that he isn’t the first person I have noticed confused between the terms Goals, Strategy and Tactics.
A Goal is a specific, measurable, obtainable, sometimes challenging, target to be achieved. Setting a goal is crucial for success. I also like how Wikipedia defines Goal- A goal or objective is a desired result a person or a system envisions, plans and commits to achieve—a personal or organizational desired end-point in some sort of assumed development. It’s akin to an Objective or Purpose.
Strategy on the other hand is an idea on how the Goal can be achieved. Strategy is perspective. How you see yourself achieving a long while from where you are. It involves your vision and the overall plan. Without a well thought out Strategy you are pretty aimless and directionless. Like someone wandering in the dark. and one important thing every entrepreneur should be able to do is to have a firm grasp and understanding of his Strategy and should be able to articulate it without ambiguity.
Tactics is the little sub details and actionable things and steps you take toward realizing your strategy. They are the actual ways Strategies are actualized.
To succeed in your business environment, see these three concepts as a tripod that needs to be appropriately balanced. One thing you wouldn’t want to do is to make a Strategy problem a Tactical one. Seth Godin puts it this way: The right strategy makes any tactic work better. The right strategy puts less pressure on executing your tactics perfectly.
Recognize that there is a difference between Goals, Strategy and Tactics, and do not confuse the three. The company that clearly understands that difference is the business that will be the most successful, the most durable – and the most profitable.