Strategic planning for a company calls for more than just an internal reflection. It is equally important to look outside at the operating environment that includes opponents, market potential and everything in between. Undertaking a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis helps you determine the ways to minimize the impact of weaknesses in your business while optimizing your strengths.
Ideally, you will match your strengths against opportunities that result from voids in your competitors’ products and/or services.
Generally, a SWOT confines weaknesses and strengths to your company's internal workings, while opportunities and threats refer only to the exterior surroundings. To get an improved look at the big picture, consider both interior and external forces when discovering possibilities and risks. You can develop the fundamental understanding in a brainstorming session with the members of your company, or by yourself if you are a one-person shop. Roping in experienced business analysts at this stage usually proves to be a great asset. They will work with you to bring out a more systematic appraisal and identification of cross-segment prospects.
Let’s consider strengths first. Some questions to help you to get started are: What makes you stand out from the competition? What benefits do you have over other companies? Next, come the opportunities which primarily exist in the external environment. Are there emerging trends that match with your company strengths? Is there a product/service area that others have not yet covered? Frequently, opportunities arise as a consequence of a changing business environment. A client segment has become more predominant; however, their specific needs aren't being fully met by your competitors.
Now is the time to address the elephant in the room! List the areas which are a challenge (weaknesses) for the company. Internally, do you have financial, managerial, development, or other problems? As with possibilities, threats in a conventional SWOT analysis are considered an additional force. By looking both outside and inside of your business for things which could harm your company you might be better able to see the large image. Some of the concerns you might want to consider: Is your competition becoming stronger? Are there any emerging trends that amplify one of your weaknesses? Do you see other outside threats to your company success?
You may take one more step beyond the conventional text book approach to the analysis by delving deeper into business dynamics. One way to step outside is to include a more detailed competitor info in the investigation. A lot of startups and expanding businesses make the mistake of underestimating their competition and overestimating the defensibility of their own offerings. This is where you need not only the market intelligence but also an objective assessment that does not get swayed by misplaced enthusiasm into a risky territory.
Similarly, identifying and acting on opportunities is both a science and an art. Sometimes, you should be able to perceive the gaps and construct solutions to fill them. At other times, you should be will to create opportunities that did not exist earlier. Eurion Constellation can help you achieve that. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.eurionconstellation.com for more details.
Labels: Business, Research, small business, Startups, Strategy