Getting the front end right. 

You may know about Vision, Mission and Goals but have you thought about how they work together and what the front end of the Business Plan is doing?

These terms get used interchangeably in workplaces and can cause confusion. So here are some quick definitions from years of experience defining them with clients in Business Plans. You don't need all of these levels, but the order is generally as follows:


Let’s  start at the top. This is the catchy one or two liner that sums up where the business/organization sees itself in 5 years time if things are wildly successful. This requires some imagination and getting outside of the day to day to imagine a shared future. It is the galvanizing vision that Senior Managers say to stakeholders or Directors use to inspire bank managers for a more competitive loan.


When doing strategic planning I get groups to imagine their vision and then tell me what they did to get there; to achieve the vision? These become the goals. These are the smaller but still substantial actions that lead to achieving the overarching vision. Goals are specific to the business, but can be out of reach for the current business capacity. Sometimes goals are best revisited after some more planning is done to ensure Goals are set at a high enough level.


These are the specific choices a business is making to achieve goals. Growth strategies require thought about which way to go. You can have overarching strategies for each business area such as HR, Operations, Marketing, or specific strategies. There needs to be enough detail to direct a team, but without being overly prescriptive. Strategies can be written at numerous levels, depending on the size and how directive the Plan is.


Actions (or sometimes marketers say ‘tactics’) are the detail of how to implement the strategy. They are directive, specific and non-ambiguous actions to be read and undertaken by staff – useful as a handover tool or if the manager is away for an extended time. They help people to self-direct. You can have multiple actions under each strategy or sub-strategy depending on your appetite for detail.

For example:

HR Goal

1. Reduce costs of high staff turnover.

Overarching strategy

1.1 Retain staff in business longer.

Sub strategies – or Actions if your plan has less detail

1.1.1 Attract seasonal workforce from other tourism regions

  • Contact Tourism Top End for a list of hotels with seasonal staff (Action)

1.1.2 Improve employment incentive packages (Sub strategy)

  • Source gym memberships and health bonuses (Action)
  • Rewrite into staff contracts
  • Research what competitors offer their staff

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

These are the measures used to track success of Goals. KPIs should be specific, time bound and relate to core business. They can be upfront and can be printed after the stated Goals. A business will need to have the means and systems to measure these KPIs to make it meaningful. There can be KPIs across the whole business, or by section. For example:

  • Achieve 15% growth in bookings in 2016, 20% in 2017 and 25% in 2018
  • Increase enquiry of Betty’s Bat Tours by 15% each year
  • Have workforce consisting of 5% indigenous employees in 2016, 10% in 2017
  • Improve the current ratio to 2:1 by 2020

When things get crazy in business and detail is overwhelming, going back to well-defined goals and strategies can help a team re-orientate their energies and focus.

Clear Vision Consulting develops Business and Marketing Plans for businesses nationally particularly in tourism, not-for-profits, arts and indigenous organisations. A strong front end means a relevant back end, and we know that sounds funnier than it should. (Business Plans don’t have to be boring).


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