Writing a Business Plan: Strategic Objectives

This post describes what to write in the second component of a business plan: the strategic objectives section. After introducing the company, you have to disclose your strategic objectives, consisting of your vision, mission, and shorter-term objectives.

Vision

Vision refers to the changes you are aiming to achieve for the communities you serve some 5-10 years from now. By developing a vision statement, your organization makes the beliefs and governing principles of your organization clear to the greater community (as well as to your own staff, participants, and volunteers).

To write a vision statement, start with your founders’ values that led to the foundation of your company. These could be fundamental and general values such as health, safety, education, and peace. Use your core values as the guiding principles for coming up with a vision statement that describes the world you dream of – how things would look if the issue important to you were perfectly addressed. For example, you might choose a mission statement such as, “we will make a world in which no child dies of poverty.”

Once your finish writing the vision statement, edit it to make sure it is:

  • Understood and shared by members of the community
  • Broad enough to encompass a variety of local perspectives
  • Inspiring and uplifting to everyone involved in your effort
  • Short, easy to communicate, and to the point

Mission

Your company mission describes (1) what your company is going to do and (2) why it’s going to do that. It is more concrete and more “action-oriented” than vision statement in the sense that it refers to a problem or a goal.

Some general guiding principles about mission statements are that they are:

  • Concise. Although not as short a phrase as a vision statement, a mission statement should still get its point across in one sentence.
  • Outcome-oriented. Mission statements explain the overarching outcomes your organization is working to achieve.
  • Inclusive. While mission statements do make statements about your group’s overarching goals, it’s very important that they do so very broadly. Good mission statements are not limiting in the strategies or sectors of the community that may become involved in the project.

Keep the mission something other than profitability measures because it is easier to excite and earn the buy-in or commitment of employees, partners, and customers by demonstrating you want to make a difference in the world, other than a contribution to your own pocket.

Objectives (Goals)

Once an organization has developed its mission statement, its next step is to develop the specific objectives that are focused on achieving that mission. Objectives are SMART goals – or in other words, results that the firm desires to achieve. SMART stands for the following words:

  • Specific: why, what, who, where, when
  • Measurable: how will you know you have achieved the goal
  • Attainable: possible to achieve
  • Realistic: willing to work hard for it?
  • Time-based: what is the target date for achieving the goal?

In the objectives section, provide a general outline of what the company wants to achieve starting from today and leading into the long-term future. Lay out what are your monthly goals, overall goals, project-based goals; as well as how much of what will be accomplished by when.

An organization’s objectives generally lay out how much of what will be accomplished by when. For example, one of the several objectives for a community initiative to promote care and caring for older adults might be: “By 2015 (by when), to increase by 20% (how much) those elders reporting that they are in daily contact with someone who cares about them (of what).” Other examples of objectives for for-profit firms include:

  1. annual (what time) dollar-value (how much) of sales (what) by what time?
  2. Number of clients served by the end of the year
  3. Percentage of a specific project completed in the first quarter of the year