Use These 3 Analysis Tools to Prepare a Killer Business Plan

Mission planning in the SEAL Teams always took one of two routes: deliberate or hasty. Deliberate planning assumed a longer term approach (greater than 48 hours) whereas hasty planning was for anything within a 24-hour period -- with some missions as soon as now.
While both planning methodologies entailed the same three criteria -- time, resources and requirements -- two significant differences determined which approach to use: the immediacy of the demand (essentially, the threat) imposed by the enemy (or competitor), and the accuracy of information we had to plan.
For the entrepreneur, it’s tempting to vie for the hasty approach, be like Nike and “just do it,” with hopes that your product will just take off into newfound success. Chances are, however, that it won’t. At least, not without doing the due diligence that gathers enough information to formulate an impenetrable business plan.
To the extent that you can do a thorough, deliberate analysis of the industry, do it. There are tons of free tools that can guide you through the process. In the meantime, here are three simple business analysis tools to help you identify what distinguishes your brand from the rest:

1. PEST 

Not to be confused with animals or people, PEST is a way to analyze the big picture changes within your industry to identify growth opportunities. Specifically, the acronym stands for:
  • Political factors
  • Economic factors
  • Social factors
  • Technological factors
Another variation of PEST is PESTLE, which includes the legal and environmental considerations. If you’re stuck on where to begin, start by segmenting each factor into the five W’s -- who, what, when, where, why -- then unleash the (mental) fury from there.

2. SWOT, the enhanced version 

While PEST offers a macro-level view of the competitive landscape, SWOT is typically used at a more micro level to analyze a specific business, product or service. Here’s the value of SWOT:
  • Strengths. While the number of beers you can slam or the number of pushups you can crank out in 60 seconds are certainly enviable qualities (at least, they were when I was in college), competitive strengths are the advantageous skills, resources, capital, network or value that distinguishes your brand from all others. They are why consumers want you and you alone.
  • Weaknesses. A pretty straightforward term. However, if you’re unsure of what your weaknesses are, take your strengths, flip them upside down, and boom, there they are. Weaknesses are where your strengths fall short in comparison to your competitors'. These may be internal disadvantages within your company such as additional bureacracy or processes, or external weaknesses that fall prey to the market, economy or technology.  Read More