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Strategic planning is an essential process throughout the lifespan of a company. It identifies priorities, allocates resources, and can pivot the company direction toward success. Strategic plans can be drawn for short-term projects or long term goals. If you think your company is not in need of a strategic plan, then you might need one more than you know. Conducting strategic planning is not necessarily negative, nor does it indicate that there is something amiss. It provides a clear idea of how the company is doing, sets goals and identifies improvements for growth and success.

Here are 4 essential tips to help create a successful Strategic Plan:

  1. Dream the dream. First things first; define the vision and consider all roles. Consider the following:
    • What drives your company?
    • Where is your company heading?
    • What does your company bring to your life?
    • What do you bring to the company?
  2. Do a SWOT analysis: Define the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. What is done well, and what could use improvement in the coming  year?
  3. Plan Set short term goals and a longer term action plan:
    • Short term goals need to be S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, actionable, reasonable and timely). Research direct and indirect competitors, connect with vendors and suppliers, developing an outline on how to tackle marketing and a sales plan.
    • Action plans are what create a process for the strategy. These plans are task and goal specific, include the time frame for completion, identify who is accountable for each task and the needed resources. 
  4. Be flexible. Be open to review and modification of the plan. As the plan progresses, it is not unusual to pivot on your original ideas and strategies. Thrive on the magic of learning about market opportunities, the industry, incoming competitors and ultimately yourself, an asset of the company.

Indeed, creating a strategy is time consuming; however they have been proven to assist organizations with long term goals. Starting with these 4 tips, keep an open and flexible mind for the next step.

Sharon Schweitzer and Sophie Echeverry co-wrote this post. Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a cross-cultural trainer, modern manners expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE Centre and the Intercultural Communication Institute, she serves as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. She is the resident etiquette expert on two popular lifestyle shows: ABC Tampa Bay’s Morning Blend and CBS Austin’s We Are Austin. She is regularly quoted by BBC Capital, Investor’s Business Daily, and Fortune. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business, Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, now in its third printing, was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015. She’s a winner of the British Airways International Trade Award at the 2016 Greater Austin Business Awards and the 2017 New York City Big Book Award for Multicultural Nonfiction.

Sophie Echeverry is the corporate marketing manager and event coordinator at Access to Culture. Born and raised in Colombia, she’s a 2018 graduate with a B.B.A. in International Business and Marketing from Hult International Business School in San Francisco, CA. Connect with her on LinkedIn.