Big goals and small, productive steps are not mutually exclusive. You need both. Here’s why.

Whether you’re starting your very first business, a new venture or your business is in growth mode, setting goals is fundamental to your overall success—and the success of those around you!

Goals are bigger-picture objectives that, when achieved, can take the company to new heights or lead an individual to a title promotion or pay raise. Every company—no matter how big or small—needs to have goals. And each person within that company should have their own set of goals.

I’ve certainly learned the importance of goals throughout my 36-year career as an entrepreneur and business leader. Setting and attaining achievable goals helped scale my business from a single storefront in New York into an international conglomerate of successful business-to-business franchise systems spanning more than 60 countries.

In general, business people and professionals understand the necessity of goals, but a common struggle that many often face is structuring and prioritizing their goals in a way that makes them attainable. Some make their goals too broad and fall short of defining specifics—we’ve all heard the saying, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” Others get stuck in the monotony of to-do lists and lose sight of their overarching aim.

I’ve often heard business leaders debate which is more important: the big goals or the smaller steps that are meant to help them reach the big goals. Essentially, which is going to move the needle more in making their business successful?

The truth is, they are not mutually exclusive, one or the other. You need both. Here’s why.


A key difference between an attainable goal and an unattainable one is structure.

An attainable goal is specific, measurable, realistic, and has a timeframe. It can easily be broken down into smaller, achievable tasks. If a goal is too broad or too big or lacks intention or purpose, it can become unclear, defeating, and unattainable.

No matter what the goal is, it’s important to understand that there are strategies and tactics that must be defined and executed in order to make that goal attainable. This is where to-do lists can be utilized as a tool and have tremendous value.

A to-do list is something simple that you can keep in front of you day to day to make sure you’re prioritizing tasks and executing what needs to be done while keeping your greater goal top of mind.

That being said, you don’t want to get so caught up with checking off to-do list items that you lose sight of the larger or more long-term goals you want to achieve. There will always be daily tasks to keep you busy, but it’s important to prioritize which tasks will help you achieve your larger goals.


While having attainable goals is great for business, you don’t want to set too many at one time.

Three primary goals per year are good, along with two to three lead measures for each. Lead measures are an integral building block of an attainable goal; they are the high-level actionable items you do each day or week that will lead to the accomplishment of the goal.

To put it simply, to-do lists are smaller tasks that help you achieve your lead measures (similar to tactics), while the lead measures are the more important action items that will help you achieve your goals (similar to strategies).


Goals help teams and employees focus on accomplishing the milestones that the business wants to achieve.

I have seen that a combination of long- and short-term goals often produces the biggest boosts in motivation and performance. At United Franchise Group, our company objectives are always the same: franchisee success, company revenue, and profit. We define our corporate goals around these each year, and every employee’s individual set of goals supports them, whether directly or indirectly.

Each leader, manager, and employee must have their own achievement goals as well. Midstream (what I usually call half-time), we look at how the employee is meeting their goals.

If an employee is greatly exceeding their goals, then we have the confidence to adjust them up—essentially setting the next bar higher for them. If an employee is doing well but struggling, then we may adjust some of their goals so that the most important ones are attainable and will lead them to success.


Being focused on goals is extremely important, but we must remember that we’re not hamsters on a wheel—we’re humans.

It’s important to acknowledge the hard work and successes that our teams and employees have achieved because it gives a sense of perspective and appreciation, and motivates them to achieve their next goal.

At my company, for example, we have a year-end sales meeting during which we train and update our salespeople. But it’s not all training and learning; we make sure that there’s time built in for camaraderie and having fun. Better yet, there’s an awards ceremony to recognize the great accomplishments that have been achieved in the past year. We present trips, watches, and gift certificates to all the winners—not only to commemorate their success but to encourage their peers to aim for achieving their own goals.

As you and your team establish to-do lists and set attainable goals while you are building your business, never forget to celebrate everyone’s achievements along the way, including your own!