Setting goals for your small business typically requires identifying tangible, objective goals that you can measure to judge your progress. However, you need subjective goals as well. These are harder to measure because they are not tangible, yet they contribute to the quality of your business. Include subjective goals in your planning sessions so that you can keep track of your small business’s vital milestones.

Improved Customer Satisfaction

Few business owners would fail to recognize the value of improving customer satisfaction. While you can measure this goal objectively using customer surveys, even survey answers are subjective. Supplement surveys by listening to customer feedback. Customer anecdotes and attitudes give you subjective feedback you can use to judge the effectiveness of your customer service policies.

Alignment of Tasks with Values

Your small business reflects your values as they relate to ethical business practices, treatment of customers, fairness in dealing with employees and honesty in paying taxes. As you operate on a daily basis, you must judge how well your tasks align with your values. This subjective goal requires you to use your judgment based on how you feel about what you see.

Positive Employee Morale

Your assessment of employee morale has a significant subjective component. You can offer a suggestion box and conduct employee surveys, but you still have to judge morale based on your own observations. If you hear complaints, you have to determine if they are a significant indicator of declining morale or simply the grumblings of a few disgruntled employees.


When you choose to innovate, you use your subjective judgment about what is innovative and what is routine. Much of your determination depends on your experience and outlook. If you have not been exposed to innovative businesses, you may think an action is innovative that the rest of your industry finds common. The act of calling an action “innovative” requires a subjective judgment on your part as to what is innovative for your business.

Obtaining Adequate Information

You need information to make decisions, and you have to judge subjectively what an “adequate” amount of information is. The difficulty with setting the goal of getting adequate information is you don’t know what information you don’t have. You have to make a subjective judgment at some point to estimate that you have enough information to make your decisions.