Corporate vs. Business Strategy: Key Differences

There are endless types of strategies in business. Two central approaches are corporate strategy and business strategy. Find out the key benefits and differences of each. 

When running a company, no matter the size, it’s important to have a strategy. Whether it’s a corporate strategy or business strategy, you need a roadmap for each. Creating a competitive strategy for your company's business and corporate portion can set you up for greater success because it provides direction.

If these terms seem similar, keep reading to find out the key differences and why you should implement them into your profession.

What Is a Corporate Strategy?

A corporate strategy refers to your business unit's goals, values, and visions. Before you commence business operations, it’s important to have an anchor for why you started and where you want your business to go. 

Think of your corporate strategy as the heart of your business. It’s the lifeblood of your business — the reason for its existence. 

What Is a Business Strategy? 

A business strategy is an action plan for the operational side of your business. However, this strategic planning focuses on factors like structure, departments, finances, supply chain, and the market. 

Think of your business strategy as the brain of your business. It is meant to plan and maintain the more technical and analytical side of things as a functional strategy.

Four Key Differences Between Corporate and Business Strategy

  1. Duration
  2. Focus
  3. Objectives
  4. Uses



Remember, your corporate strategy is the heart of your business. That means that it should remain steady. Corporate strategies are long-term visions and long-term goals for your business. 


The business strategy is the brains of the operation, which means it can switch gears when necessary. Business strategies are short-term because they deal with the issue at hand. Once that issue is solved, it’s on to another business strategy that will help conquer the next task.



A corporate-level strategy focuses on the company itself. It focuses on questions such as: 

  • What does the company value?
  • How can the company achieve its highest potential?
  • In what areas can the company grow?
  • Is the company achieving what it set out to do?


A business-level strategy focuses on how the company is accomplishing measurable success. It focuses on questions, such as: 

  • Is the business meeting or exceeding profit projections?
  • How is the business serving the customer?
  • How is the business performing compared to its competitors?
  • Is the business remaining competitive in the market regarding the value, prices, revenue, and visibility?



Corporate objectives are mainly focused on goal setting. Goal setting is a valuable method because it provides you and your employees with concretes to achieve and ways to get there. 

Your corporate objectives should be a process by which you check in with your employees on their short-term and long-term goals. These can consist of monthly one-on-ones, mentorship programs, or whichever differentiation fits your small business organization. 


Business objectives still relate to goal setting; however, these goals are based on facts and figures rather than people. Business objectives will be goals for each department to reach, surrounding revenue, profit, and other financial data.



Corporate strategies keep the company’s corporate goals and visions in mind. But to be more specific, different uses for corporate strategies can be focused on:

  • Creating and maintaining expectations of customers, stakeholders, and employees
  • Defining the purpose of the company through a mission statement
  • Nourishing practices such as professional development, wellness, and balance
  • Providing space for intentional growth of business and employees


  • Acquiring necessary resources, equipment, supplies, and capital
  • Creating a clear and thorough business plan and business model
  • Develop result-driven goals that are measured regularly

What Are the Benefits of Corporate Strategy?

  • Getting a Competitive Edge
  • Products Perform Better
  • Satisfying Customers and Employees
  • Stronger Business Decisions

Getting a Competitive Edge

Your employees are your team. A team that works under strong leadership is likelier to perform at the highest level. A holistic corporate-level strategy provides your team with a game plan. This allows the entire organization to contribute confidently, work towards a cohesive goal, and maintain a competitive advantage as they strive upward. 

Products Perform Better

When you create a culture of accountability, your products will also benefit. When your team knows their goals and their roles, part of meeting those objectives is making sure their products are serving their purpose. When the products are in the hands of motivated team members, they are likely to perform better. And who knows? Maybe they’ll even come up with a new product.

Satisfying Customers and Employees

Employees want to be a part of a business unit that cares about its people and its mission. Expert strategists report that employees are more likely to treat customers well when they are happy at work. Happiness is a chain reaction that starts with employee satisfaction.

Stronger Business Decisions

A strategic decision is simpler when you know where you want to go. As a business owner, you will face countless business quandaries. When you come across a difficult decision-making process, ask yourself:

  • Which choice will get you closer to your goal?
  • Which choice is most in line with the company’s mission?
  • Which choice will benefit your employees and customers the most?

What Are the Benefits of Business Strategy?

  • Efficient Operations
  • Improves Management
  • Long-Term Sustainability
  • Maximizes Profit, Minimizes Risk

Efficient Operations

When you create standard operating procedures for your business unit, you are setting your business in a better place to be successful. Standard operating procedures ensure:

  • Clear rules, regulations, and guidelines
  • Instructions for day-to-day tasks, chain of command, and general preparation
  • Consistent training leads to cohesive practices and company alignment

Improves Management

When employees understand their roles and are provided with a clear chain of command, they can perform their tasks more efficiently and confidently. Strategic management should have a clear layout of job descriptions, expectations, and team members. Providing employees with these guidelines will ultimately improve management. 

Long-Term Sustainability

When your business is running efficiently, it is likely to run longer. In addition, when your employees can perform their jobs efficiently, they are less likely to experience burnout. Creating initiatives to provide your team with efficient operations will ultimately promote long-term sustainability in your business and your employees.

Maximizes Profit, Minimizes Risk

Another huge benefit of the business-level strategy is the opportunity to maximize profit and minimize risk. When your business is running efficiently because of the operational road map you have created, it is less likely to waste resources. This will likely decrease expenses and promote profit. 

In addition to that, systems of operations should include safety training to minimize risk in the workplace.


When building a business, corporate strategy and business strategy are two functional tools to implement in your workplace.

One focuses on the company's heartbeat: the people and the morale.

The other focuses on the company's brain: the operations and the analytics.

One cannot work without the other. So when it’s time to build your business, keep these strategies at the forefront of your plan.


How Employee Satisfaction Affects Customer Satisfaction | Forbes

The Importance of Following the Chain of Command in Business | Small Business Chronicle

Four Key Components of Corporate Strategy | Ottawa University

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