We’re all familiar with the concept of a SWOT analysis. It’s the handy and often overused tool handed to every business school student at some time or another. Chart out your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats, and use that for strategic planning purposes. This actually can be a useful practice, but I have one problem with it: it makes you think your threats and opportunities are different.
The more you look, the more you realize that pretty much every threat to your business is actually an opportunity, and quite often should be treated as such. Treating it as a threat is often the wrong strategy. Many of those “threats” are inevitable. They’re technological or market transformation that are going to come one way or another anyway and are a “threat” only in that they compete with the old way you did business.
Treating them as a threat tends to waste a lot of time, effort and resources for almost no benefit. Think, for example of all the effort the RIAA has spent trying to stop music file sharing. For all the effort and time spent, the amount of file sharing done today is much greater than when they started, and there are some who believe that all the RIAA’s efforts have really done is help popularize the fact that file sharing is out there and common.
The fact is, most “threats” are really business opportunities for the competition. And nothing will stop them. The best way to deal with them is to flip them around, consider them opportunities for yourself, and if they wipe out your old product line/business — so be it. Better that you do it than the competitor.
The recording industry is finally starting to recognize this, a decade late, in trying to set up new services that actually do compete with file sharing, but it’s taken a while, and the big players no longer have as much power as they once would have to have embraced this opportunity completely. Don’t make the same mistake. In examining your threats, look at how many of them are really opportunities, and look for ways to embrace them, rather than ways to try to prevent them.