By Bobette Kyle
When conducting strategic planning for any company - online and/or offline - it is useful to complete an analysis that takes into account not only your own business, but your competitor's activities and current industry happenings as well. A SWOT analysis is one such analysis. SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Completing a SWOT analysis helps you identify ways to minimize the affect of weaknesses in your business while maximizing your strengths. Ideally, you will match your strengths against market opportunities that result from voids in your competitors' products and/or services. Traditionally, a SWOT confines strengths and weaknesses to your company's internal workings while opportunities and threats refer only to the external environment. Here, I suggest a twist to the "text book" approach. To get a better look at the big picture, consider both internal *and* external forces when uncovering opportunities and threats.
A Basic SWOT Analysis
You can develop the basic analysis in a brainstorming session with members of your company, or by yourself if you are a one-person shop. To begin the analysis create a four-cell grid or four lists, one for each component: | Strengths | Weaknesses | Opportunities | Threats | Then, begin filling in the lists. Strengths - Think about what your company does well. Some questions to help you get started are: What makes you stand out from your competitors? What advantages do you have over other businesses? Weaknesses - List the areas that are a struggle for your company. Some questions to help you get started are: What do your customers complain about? What are the unmet needs of your sales force? Opportunities - Traditionally, a SWOT looks only at the external environment for opportunities. I suggest you look externally for areas your competitors are not fully covering, then go a step further and think how to match these to your internal...