Three Key Questions 

Experts teach several models for analyzing the competitive environment and internal capabilities of companies. These are valuable tools, but they can sometimes overwhelm, and even misdirect, the small business owner. The real key is to stop and actually think about your strengths and weaknesses and who your competitors are and what they’re doing. 

I was thrilled to recently run across three simple questions posed by Jim Collins that I’ve used with clients for several months. Clients are not only loving the results, but I am also excited about the clarity and focus these questions bring to analyzing what’s working and not for their companies. 

Collins suggests adopting the lens of a new competitor entering the industry looking to eliminate or make our company irrelevant. From there, consider: 

  • What strengths the new competitor has to have and why 
  • What weaknesses of ours the new competitor could exploit and how and why 
  • What customers or markets the new competitor would pursue or invade and how and why 

 Not to belabor, but…the first question focuses us on blind spot strengths we need to hone or develop. The second question helps us think about how to shore up our weak points. The all-important third question, which I often push clients to think much deeper about, helps us identify the customers and markets we may be neglecting, ignoring, under-serving, or missing for expansion. 

The great thing about these questions is that business owners can apply them for a simple analysis generating immediate focus. Business leaders who are not owners, unit or department leaders, team leaders, and even individual employees can quickly apply this same method to their company, department, team, or even their own job. The solopreneur can quickly apply these for the simplified analysis that fits one-person businesses. 

The simplicity of these three questions creates an immediately understandable and actionable focus on competitive growth opportunities. That’s what analysis is supposed to be about! 


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Picture of Craig A. Escamilla
Craig A. Escamilla
Craig Escamilla helps you find solutions before problems exist. With fifteen years of consulting, teaching, and senior management experience, Craig brings a wealth of practical expertise to helping others work on rather than in their businesses.

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