His three young daughters, who shared a bedroom for 10
years, used to join him for Saturday jobs.
“Every time I pump gas and smell the gasoline, it reminds
me of my dad,” Paola Bravo said.
The youngest of Sergio’s three daughters, Paola began
working on and off at the family business as a teenager. The
eldest, Alejandra, worked 10 years at Bravo before she moved
to Chile in 2000. Middle sister Anamaria is a speech and
Paola Bravo didn’t see working
in the family business as a career
choice for herself.
“In my early 20s, I never
thought about working at S.
Bravo, let alone leading the company,” she said.
At that time, she worked as an
assistant fashion designer.
“And I got ;red,” she said.
“I told the designer she did
At 25, Paola Bravo took a
full-time, minimum wage recep-
tionist job at the family business.
Later she moved into purchasing and other roles. Sergio Bravo
said Paola proved she was the
“I realized that Paola could
run the company when I was
gone to Chile for long periods
of time,” he said. “Everything
ran well in my absence, and she
also advanced the company by
investing in new technology,
equipment and people.”
At ;rst, her spending didn’t sit
well, Paola Bravo said.
“My father must have quit on
me three times,” she said. “He
literally left the country for six
months and went to Chile. Each
time he left, it was the same thing,
Sergio Bravo said he was used to running the company
“I was willing to take small steps, and Paola wanted to
take giant leaps,” he said.
“When you’ve built something from the ground up, like
I did with underground containment products and systems,
According to a PwC survey of 160 key decision-makers at U.S. family businesses,
family ;rms can translate entrepreneurial vision into long-term success by getting
better at their medium-term strategies. Through the survey, PwC identi;ed 10 steps
to planning strategically over the medium term so family businesses can stay in
business for the long term.
1. Focus on goals, not tactics. A strategic plan is about setting your business
goals over the medium term and
deciding the direction of the ;rm. A
business plan lays out speci;c actions
a company must take in the next year
to make the strategic plan a reality.
Having a good business plan is only
part of the answer.
2. Stand in the future and look back.
Where do you want to be in three,
;ve and 10 years? Be clear about what
you want your future to look like,
then decide how to accomplish it.
What changes will you make to your
products and services, balance sheet,
working culture and organizational
3. Stand in the present and look
around. Look hard at your business
as it stands right now. Do you have
a competitive advantage? Are your
ambitions realistic? What needs to
change? Are you adequately assessing the threat of new competitors and
the likelihood of new game-changing
products or services?
4. Invite input. The CEO needs to drive
the strategic plan, but the more
people who contribute to it, the more
robust it’s likely to be. And they’ll be
more committed to something they
helped create. Involve skilled people
from across the company and include
trusted outside advisers who know
how the market is changing.
5. Be prepared for change. Rigorous
strategic planning should challenge
how you’re operating and test its ;t-ness for the next phase. If it doesn’t,
it’s not doing its job. Be open to
alternatives and approaches, and
accept that you might need to adapt
your personal role and the way the
6. Set a timescale. A good strategic
plan is like an itinerary. When do you
plan to reach milestones and the
7. Assign responsibilities. The CEO
and board must take ownership of
the plan, but speci;c elements must
be owned and driven by appropriate managers and supported by the
budget and resources necessary
8. Translate the strategic plan into a
business plan. Move from the strategic to the tactical. You can do this
by turning the ;rst phase of the plan
into action and implementation
during the next 12 months.
9. Measure, monitor and adapt. As
you implement the plan, assess
how well it’s working and whether it
needs to be ;ne-tuned. Use objective KPIs to evaluate progress.
10. Communicate, communicate,
communicate. Don’t just share the
strategic plan. Also communicate
the progress you’re making against
it. This builds a shared commitment,
energy and direction.
10 Steps to E;ective Strategic Planning