What is strategy? The ultimate guide to being strategic in life, work, and business

Embrace the power of strategic thinking with this comprehensive guide. Unpack the concept of strategy, its importance, and how to apply it across different facets of life – from personal goals to business endeavors.



Craft Author: Craft Team
Craft Team

Key Takeaways

1. Understand and Apply Strategic Tools: Tools like SWOT Analysis, Scenario Planning, and Porter's Five Forces Analysis are not confined to business. They can be equally useful in personal decision-making processes, such as a career change or a significant investment.

2. Think Strategically about Your Personal Brand: Your personal brand is your reputation, your unique selling proposition. Be strategic about how you define, grow, and leverage your personal brand, especially on professional platforms. This can open doors to new opportunities and help you stand out in competitive environments.

3. Use Strategic Concepts in Different Areas of Business: Whether it's marketing, content creation, corporate decisions, or organizational design, strategic thinking can guide you towards more effective and efficient practices. This understanding can also be leveraged to contribute more significantly in your professional roles.

What is strategy?

When you plan your weekend getaway, you're using strategy. When you decide to take up an additional certification course to boost your resume, you're deploying strategy. Strategy, at its core, is about making choices to maximize your chances of success. In the context of your professional life, strategy involves setting out long-term goals, and making decisions about what you need to do in your day-to-day activities to achieve those goals. This includes choosing what to do, and equally importantly, what not to do. It requires understanding the challenges and resources available to make the most effective use of your time, energy and skills.

Benefits of being strategic

1. Efficient resource allocation

Strategy guides you to use your resources - time, skills, energy and finances, in the most efficient way possible. This can help you achieve more with less.

2. Improved decision-making

Being strategic gives you a clearer perspective on what matters most. This leads to more informed, deliberate decisions that align with your long-term goals.

3. Better problem-solving

A strategic mindset enables you to foresee potential issues, consider various solutions, and choose the one that best fits your long-term goals and current situation.

4. Increased adaptability

With a strategic approach, you're better prepared to adapt to changes - be it in the marketplace, technology or your personal life, because you're consistently aligned to your goals, and you're ready to make necessary adjustments.

5. Competitive advantage

Being strategic allows you to anticipate trends and changes, be it in business or career, giving you a competitive edge. You're always a step ahead because you're not just reacting to what's happening now, but preparing for what could happen in the future.

3 important strategic concepts

1. SWOT Analysis

What is it?

A SWOT Analysis is a strategic planning tool that helps to evaluate the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats in a project or a business venture.

How to do a SWOT Analysis:

In a business context, a new restaurant might identify strengths as a well-trained staff, weaknesses as limited parking space, opportunities as a burgeoning foodie culture in the city, and threats as numerous established competitors. Based on this, the restaurant could focus on marketing their unique dishes while seeking to secure additional parking options.

2. Scenario Planning

What is it?

Scenario Planning is a strategic planning method used to make flexible long-term plans by envisioning multiple future scenarios. It lets decision-makers identify a number of different possible outcomes so they can evaluate and prepare for both positive and negative potential scenarios.

How to do Scenario Planning:

For a company, scenarios might include increasing market demand, a new competitor entering the market, or changes in the regulatory environment. The company would then plan its product development, marketing, and regulatory compliance strategies to align with these possible futures.

3. Five Forces Analysis

What is it?

Porter's Five Forces Analysis is a tool to understand the competition in an industry and its underlying structure. It includes five forces:

  • Competitive rivalry: How many competitors are there? Is one more dominant than others?
  • Threat of new entrants: How easy is it for a new business to enter the market?
  • Threat of substitutes: Could your customers find a different way of doing what your product or service does?
  • Bargaining power of buyers: How strong is the position of buyers? Can they work together to order at lower prices?
  • Bargaining power of suppliers: How strong is the position of sellers? Can they increase prices because they're the only source?

How to do a Five Forces Analysis:

In this method, you assess each of the five elements in relation to your business. For example, a restaurant could use Porter's Five Forces to assess their competition (other restaurants), new entrants (new restaurants opening nearby), substitutes (ready meals, home cooking), buyer power (customer loyalty programs), and supplier power (food and beverage suppliers).

These strategic concepts, complemented by setting SMART goals, can provide a solid foundation for strategic thinking.

Write more clearly. Think more clearly.

Types of strategy in business

1. Marketing strategy

A marketing strategy is a company's plan to promote its products or services to reach its target audience effectively. It encompasses elements such as product positioning, brand awareness, and pricing strategy. The strategic element comes from choosing which elements should be used to reach the business’s goals.

For example, an e-commerce company might implement a marketing strategy that includes social media advertising, promotional sales, and collaboration with influencers to expand their customer base and increase their online visibility.

2. Content strategy

A content strategy refers to the planning, creation, distribution, and management of content (like articles, videos, and social media posts) to meet specific business goals. The objective is to provide valuable, engaging, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience.

An example could be a technology blog with a content strategy that includes publishing weekly articles on recent tech trends, how-to guides, and product reviews to engage their readership and attract new followers.

3. Corporate strategy

Corporate strategy is the overall plan defining the direction a corporation intends to take to achieve its goals and align its business units. It often involves decisions about the organization's scope, resource allocation, and strategic initiatives.

For example, a multinational company might have a corporate strategy that includes diversifying into new markets, acquiring smaller startups in the same industry, and reallocating resources to the most profitable units.

4. Organizational strategy

Organizational strategy is a plan for the design and management of an organization's structure, culture, and resources to achieve its goals. It involves aligning the organization's mission, vision, and values with its strategic goals.

A non-profit organization might implement an organizational strategy that includes restructuring its teams to improve efficiency, fostering a culture of innovation and inclusivity, and aligning its fundraising efforts with its mission and long-term objectives.

At their core, all these strategies — marketing, content, corporate, and organizational — are about setting clear goals and planning out the best ways to reach them in alignment with the bigger picture of your business.

Strategy in personal life

When we hear the word "strategy," we often associate it with businesses, but the concept extends far beyond that. In fact, strategy is vital for individuals too, particularly when it comes to advancing your career and improving your personal life.

Professional Strategy

Growing your personal brand

Having a robust personal brand can significantly impact your professional journey. Define your brand by identifying your unique skills, interests, and values. Then, create a strategic plan to showcase your brand consistently across different platforms, such as LinkedIn, personal websites, or industry conferences. This can include publishing articles related to your area of expertise, networking strategically, or participating in relevant industry discussions.

Building strategic relationships

Networking is more than just accumulating business cards. It's about building relationships strategically. Identify key individuals in your field, reach out to them, share insights, and learn from their experiences. Be consistent and genuine in your interactions, and you will see your professional network grow strategically over time.

Personal Strategy

Financial planning

Strategic financial planning is vital for financial freedom and security. This can involve setting clear financial goals, creating a budget, planning for emergencies, investing wisely, and regularly reviewing your financial plan to make adjustments as necessary.

Achieving personal goals

Just like businesses set strategic goals, individuals can too. Setting clear, SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) goals for personal growth, such as learning a new skill, maintaining a healthier lifestyle, or pursuing a hobby, can help you achieve these objectives more effectively. Having a strategic approach to your personal goals not only provides a clear direction but also makes the journey towards them more manageable and enjoyable.

Strategic tools to use

Many business strategy tools can also be used effectively in a personal context, too. Consider SWOT Analysis and Scenario Planning—two methodologies that are not exclusively confined to corporate meeting rooms.

For instance, let's say you're considering a career change. A personal SWOT Analysis can help you understand your Strengths (maybe you're a great public speaker), Weaknesses (but you might struggle with time management), Opportunities (there could be a burgeoning market for public speaking coaches), and Threats (although the market might be highly competitive).

Similarly, Scenario Planning can help you prepare for different outcomes. Imagine you're planning to buy a house in the next five years. You can create various scenarios based on different variables, like changes in your income, fluctuating house prices, or shifts in interest rates. This approach can provide you with a range of potential paths, allowing you to create a more resilient plan that can adapt to the future, whatever it holds.

These strategic tools provide a framework to understand your current situation, anticipate potential futures, and make informed decisions. When you apply them to your personal and professional life, you empower yourself to navigate the complexities of life strategically and proactively.


Strategy is not just about business; it's an essential part of our everyday lives, helping us make informed decisions and work towards our personal and professional goals more effectively. By understanding different strategic concepts and tools, and how they apply to different areas of business and our own lives, we can navigate complexities and uncertainties with greater confidence. From SWOT Analysis to Scenario Planning, these tools provide a framework for understanding our current situation and planning for various future outcomes. Ultimately, the power of strategic thinking lies in its ability to turn challenges into opportunities, and goals into achievements, whether we're managing a multinational corporation or planning our next career move.

More strategy resources