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Analyze This

New or trendy it's not, but an updated analysis of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats may be just the check-up your business needs.

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This story appears in the June 1999 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Before taking a swing at his business plan last year, David Dayton took a SWOT. The co-founder and CEO of AlumiPlate Inc., a 14-person Minneapolis metal-coating company, used the time-tested management tool called Strength-Weakness-Opportunity-Threat analysis to not only identify his strengths and weaknesses, but to pinpoint potential pitfalls and prospects as well.

"We took all the things we know about our business and listed them in four columns labeled strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats," explains the 44-year-old entrepreneur. This brief exercise, done as part of the 4-year-old company's annual strategic planning process, highlighted a handful of areas for AlumniPlate to focus on in the coming year. Specifically, Dayton identified a high barrier to competition as a strength, while the company's proprietary aluminum coating technology is its best opportunity. Lack of a high-volume production demonstration was one weakness that was revealed, and heavy demands on key personnel were shown to pose the biggest threat.

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