It doesn't matter how fast you drive if you don't know where you're going. For a business, goals create the map to the destination that is your definition of success. For your business to meet its goals, you will need to set planned and target goals. Each has its own niche in the ecology of business systems, and it's important to understand both. How well you can do that may define whether your business succeeds or fails.

Planned Goals

Planned goals tell you where you're going. They are the big picture of your business scheme. They're what success looks like when you imagine being successful. When you create your long-range, five-year plan for business growth, the goals you set here will be planned goals. An example of a planned goal is to increase sales to $1 million a year from your current sales of $250,000.

Targeted Goals

Targeted goals tell you how to get there by defining interim steps toward your planned goal. You might also have heard these called "benchmarks." Planned goals can be broad, confusing and intimidating. By defining targeted goals as steps toward reaching your planned goals, you increase your chances of success. Targeted goals for the previous example might be to increase sales by $50,000 in the first year, $100,000 the following year and $200,000 each in the subsequent three years. You could take it a step further and create additional targeted goals for each year -- for example, increasing sales by a little over $4,000 a month in the first year.

Working Together

Planned goals and targeted goals work together as parts of a whole business plan. This is especially important as you shift your targeted goals to account for realities of the business flow. If you reassess targeted goals but keep the planned goals steady, your business keeps all its flexibility and all the benefits of a highly structured plan.


How you define your goals is as important as what kind of goals they are. Planned and targeted goals both should conform to the SMART system of goal setting. Excellent goals specifically define their nature, are measurable via clearly established metrics, remain attainable by being aggressive but reasonable given your company's resources and are realistic in that they are within reasonable reach of your team. They must also be timely, meaning they are tied to specific time limits. Without these attributes, goals tend to be nebulous, intimidating and ineffective.