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Planning and your Mission Statement

Provided by Business Partners Ltd, South Africa's leading investor in SMEs


Everyone engages in planning at some point, whether formally or informally. There are different types of planning that one can do but essentially we will focus on three types that are important to you as an entrepreneur.

As part of your business plan you have to address three areas within your plan:

1. Strategic planning,

2. Tactical planning and 

3. Operational planning.

These phases are such an integral part of your life as a business owner that without them it would be difficult to remain focused on achieving your goals. Planning however doesn’t come easily for some people. Entrepreneurs in particular are very idea oriented and so many will tell you their plans are in their heads. However, the breakdown of those plans into action cannot all be stored in one’s head because at some point something is going to fall through the cracks.

Another aspect to consider is that you as an entrepreneur will not be the only person to carry out the plans. When there is a clear company planning document which your managers can refer to, it makes their lives much easier and focused on achieving the company’s goals instead of on what they feel is right at the time.

The various plans also help you formulate your goals and assist you in allocating time frames, resources and people to be responsible for them.

Strategic planning

These types of plans are designed to ensure that the organization is aligned with the changing external or macro environment. They are usually formulated by top management or the business owner and would include the following aspects:

  • Creating a vision or dream for the future of the business
  • Translating that vision into a realistic mission statement
  • Translating the mission into measurable long term goals
  • Selecting various strategies to attain those goals
  • The time frame would run over a period of about 5 yrs
  • The focus is on the entire organization
  • The plan looks at matching the resources of the business with the opportunities and threats discovered in the SWOT analysis

Tactical Planning

This type of planning deals primarily with people and actions to implement that strategic plan. They focus on functional areas of the business such as marketing, human resources, IT, finance, etc. Time frames are shorter they tend to be from 1 to 3 years. They are more specific about what needs to be achieved.

Operational Planning

Operational plans are developed by lower level managers. They are narrowly focused on that manager’s role and actions that need to accomplished in order to achieve the medium term goals of the tactical plan and have very short time frames being a month, a week or day to day.  It is important that these operational plans fit into the tactical and strategic plans of the business.

After reviewing all the documentation you accumulated in during the due diligence process you can now start formulating your company mission and goals. Developing the mission statement for your business is a critical step in determining the direction you wish your business to move in. It stipulates the purpose for which the business exists.

What should be included in your mission statement?

Well, the kind of information will vary somewhat from industry to industry but there are some basic elements which include the following:

  • Your products or service offering (in brief)
  • Your market – referring to your customer
  • Technology – refers to the tools, equipment or innovation that you will be using in your business that makes you unique
  • Objectives of your business – this is a general reference only and not the long list that you will show in your planning document
  • Philosophy of the business – reflecting the basic value systems that will govern the business and decision making for example: Integrity
  • Business self-concept – this is a statement of how the business views itself, abilities, strengths
  • Public image – this aspect will include a statement referring to the type of impression the business wishes to make on the public

You needn’t develop the mission statement in one sitting. You can put ideas together and come back to it later. You may change it as you develop the rest of your plan. So long as when you’re done you stick to the commitment you’re communicating through that mission statement.

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