Business Coaching 102: The difference Between Strategic and Tactical Plans

At a recent event, I was asked the difference between a strategic and tactical plan for a business start-up.  And in the question, I realized that it is one of the more perplexing questions facing young entrepreneurs.  And while it is often perplexing, we can make it far more simple by reducing it to its simplest common denominator.

To understand how these plans work together, it is important to start with a definition of both plans.

What is a Strategic Plan?

Strategy is most closely associated with planning how you will accomplish your organizational objectives.  It is the plan which details what you want to accomplish. For example, "We will increase lead flow and quality over the next six months by implementing an inbound marketing campaign." The strategic plan is linked to organizational values and goals.   Succinctly stated, the strategic plan can be summarized as "doing the right things".

What is a Tactical Plan?

The tactical plan is an expansion of how you will accomplish those strategies outlined in your strategic plan.  It is the how of your plan that provides granular steps to take to ensure you accomplish your strategic goals.  The tactical plan can be summarized as "doing things right."

Figure 1.1 Relation of Strategic and Tactical Plan

Figure 1.1 Relation of Strategic and Tactical Plan

If the strategic plan is the thought leadership of what you are going to do, the tactical plan is the action plan for how you will accomplish your strategy. The interplay between the two plans (often incorporated in the same document) may be graphically represented in Figure 1.1:Relation of Strategic and Tactical Plan.


To facilitate understanding and remembering the difference between these two components the age old adage applies: Strategy focuses on doing the right things, and tactics focus on doing things right.

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