Setting goals gives you purpose and direction, whether you're trying to lose weight or trying to run a million-dollar business. Without goals, we'd abandon projects the second they got too difficult and have a hard time drumming up excitement for most everything else.

Goals also set the stage for creating measurements and milestones, and as the old saying goes, "If you can't measure it, you can't manage it." Setting business goals should also be a positive and exciting experience - you're creating the roadmap for longevity and growth in your company after all. If you need additional motivation, here are four reasons goals are golden to every small business.

Goals allow you to actualize your mission, purpose and values.

Goals should always be tethered to the core of your business, which means you must have an underlying understanding of what drives you to do what you do in the first place. Most short-term goals speak to the who, what, when, and where of your company.

Ones that reflect your reasons for existing answer the all-important "why." These become big-picture initiatives that live beyond quarterly cycles and short-term planning.

Determining your core values in the early stages of your company can be an exercise in goal setting in itself. When you start by saying "we exist to..." you're establishing the foundation from which all decisions will be made. Ones that align with your statements of purpose feed into your overall company and product story.

It's a cycle that gains momentum as each short-term goal underscores your long-term initiatives. It's no surprise that companies that fail to set business goals also fail to achieve their overarching vision.

Goals align your team and help you hire new talent.

All great businesses have this trait in common: Everyone's eyes is fixated on the same prize. No matter the size of your team, you need full buy-in to ensure motivation stays high.

One way to align your team is to work with them on goal creation. Your team should play an active role in goal setting, both for the company and for themselves. If your team is all pulling in the same direction to help live out the organization's larger core values, individual team members will organically keep each other in check and help make sure smaller goals are being reached.

Established goals and core values also make hiring the right talent easier. Having these in place, help you shape interview questions and identify traits in candidates who will align with your vision and team. You'll also be more apt to attract top talent through your company cohesion alone.

Goals become their own reward.

When each employee knows how he or she can personally impact company goals, achievement becomes its own reward. Some goals can and should be based on things like raising capital and building profits, but hitting key goals should reflect a more general sense of growth.

Individuals crave autonomy and to feel like they are making an impact. They want to know they are contributing to the bigger picture rather than making constant personal sacrifices for the company's sake.

Make it a habit of recognizing when goals are met within your company. This doesn't have to be with bonuses - sometimes a verbal "thank you," or a Friday afternoon social hour goes further than monetary rewards. Find out what your team values and reward accordingly.

Recognition for a job well done lets your team know that you're an involved leader. They'll work harder to meet each subsequent goal because they know you truly value their contributions to the company mission.

Goals provide a gauge.

The more specific you are in your goal setting, the better you'll be able to quantify how well you're reaching them. Break your long-term goals down into actionable chunks that you can look back at in a short period of time to measure effectiveness.

For example, take your yearly sales goal and divide it monthly so you don't feel like you have to tackle lofty aims all at once. That's why long-term goal setting is so important to do first - it's much easier to work backwards than it is to extrapolate outward.

Measurement also means gauging the effectiveness of different tactics you've devised to help meet your goals. You should be able to plainly see which strategies are pulling you away from your company mission and which employees are less effective at making certain goals a reality.

Operating without goals is like running through a maze without a reason for doing so. It's impossible to build momentum without a reason for being. Goals are the simplest way to validate your purpose as a company and are gold for businesses that want to make a lasting impact.

Published on: Jun 8, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.