This study was guided by the conceptual framework in Figure 1 below which also shows the operationalisation of the study variables. This model is based on the basic premises of the strategic planning proposed by Berry (1998). Berry (1998) argues that whether formal or informal, strategic planning is carried out and that substantive analytical elements of the process include; scanning the environment; analysing competitive activity; assessing strengths and weaknesses; developing long term objectives and short term operational plans; and reviewing and revising plans. Similarly, the way in which the strategy implementation process is organised will very likely have an influence on competitive advantage. H0: There is no significant relationship between strategic planning and competitive advantage. The hypothesis highlights the relationship between strategic planning (processes and actions) and competitive advantage. It is supposed that effective application of strategic planning will have a positive and significant influence on the improvement of competitive advantage and performance of SMEs. To test hypothesis, the following regressions model is used: Model I, y,_ — — e where y1 competitive advantage, xt= strategic planning, p = the change in the dependent variable for a unit change in the independent variable, and e is the error term. A cross-sectional study was determined to be useful in collecting descriptive data on strategic planning practices and performance of SMEs. It represents perceptions of employees at three different levels comprising top, middle and lower management and provides a snapshot of their views as they exist in SMEs. The survey research design thus sought to identify the extent of strategic planning and competitive advantage. This approach is in line with previous empirical research (Beaumaster, 1999; Njanja, 2009; & Mohutsiwa, 2012), which used a cross-sectional study in a survey to investigate management practices affecting SMEs in Kenya and the link between strategic entrepreneurship and performance of SMEs in South Africa.

Figure 1

Figure 1. Conceptual framework and operationalisation of variables