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Small Business SWOT Analysis Research Online

Updated on October 17, 2013

SWOT Diagram


SWOT Analysis for Business Partners

The most critical initial step in developing a partnership with another company is researching and analyzing their entire business in a very thorough manner. Small business SWOT analysis research online can help speed up the process of learning about the company, brand reputation within the industry, competitive advantages with products, market access, strong focus on sales, customer service, and several other factors including any negatives that are relevant to the nature of the business relationship.

Partner SWOT Analysis Basics

If you are not familiar with what a SWOT analysis is, it is a tool business professionals use for evaluating a business by reviewing specific areas and rating the company by the Strength, Weaknesses or limitations, Opportunities, and Threats that are present in a potential business. During the SWOT analysis be conscious of your intent to do a business deal with the company that you are reviewing because certain elements of the business may be more important than others that would be dismissed if it was a review of the business itself. It is also advisable to create a SWOT analysis of your own business prior to engaging with outside companies to fully understand your own company and how the outside market may see your business. When evaluating the various areas, it is wise to remember that Strengths and Weaknesses are focused on internal to the company while Opportunities and Threats are factors that are outside the control of a business, yet still very vital to fully understand as they can be the difference between success and failure. A common outside factor to consider is government regulations, a new regulation can provide the path to increased customers due to a new requirement or can be the death of a company due to obsolescence.

Whiteboard of Process

Questions to Answer

Ideas for Questions

  • Strengths should be focused on areas of the business partner that would give your business an advantage in the market, areas where the business is very established. Is the company the best in the market? Do they have special pricing on products? What is the companies unique selling point for the partnership being a perfect fit.
  • Weakness or limitations are parts of the company that make the partner potentially ineffective and areas that need to be addressed and understood completely. Is there areas that the company needs to drastically improve in order to be effective? Would they represent a weakness in the business by being associated with in the market? What scenarios will a partnership limit potential sales or other more advantageous partnerships?
  • Opportunities should include factors that could make the partnership even better in the future increasing the desire to develop a business relationship now in order to maximize future opportunities
  • Threats are external factors that can cause minor or catastrophic trouble to a business.

Researching Small Businesses Online

Tools for Conducting Web Research
1. Social Media Sites - LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Yelp - Any sites that the company operates that allow web forum discussions, sharing content, etc.
2. Google Docs - Excellent collaboration tool for creating word documents and spreadsheets with team members conducting the research.
3. Better Business Bureau and other customer complaint sites. Always look online for negative reviews use Search Engines, check the brand on twitter if applicable, take an effort on finding negative information.
4. Google Search - still hard to beat the amount of data that can be pulled, often go several pages deep to find important information for this type of research when evaluating larger companies. Utilize Google Places and Yahoo Local for additional reviews, pictures, other details.
5. Local Business Journal searches by location. Other local business papers online.
6. Industry specific magazines with online publications
7. Industry specific blogs and websites
8. Industry journals and other literature produced by trades groups concerning the industry
9. Market research reports for sale
10. oDesk and other outsourcing websites allow for access individuals that can support early stages of market research activities online at very competitive consulting rates..

5 Tips for Doing Basic Business Partner Research
1. Know the customers, be a customer, talk with customers.
2. Read press releases from companies.
3. Read financial statements if a publicly traded company.
4. Complete your own demographic data on the regions they serve.
5. Have a handful of question that are critical for you to understand and if the situation presents itself and you can ask someone from the company do so.

During the entire process of researching and reviewing possible business partners keep your eyes open for business opportunities that can be pursued for additional revenue.

Prepare Individual Business Opportunity Reports

When evaluating a potential business partner you may overlook a smaller less known business that could be the right fit for growing your company so take additional measures to locate the best local business if that fits the defined growth strategy despite it being more difficult. Partnering with local small businesses is a good opportunity to establish a regionally defined market which is excellent for product testing, market research, or just because you want a presence in that area. It is important to be consistent with each individual analysis so that it is easy to compare potential business opportunities at all levels and with smaller companies that will require getting on the phone to just even reach out and verify that a small business exists that is found in online research. Be able to benchmark the opportunities against a core number of factors that are make or break for the type of business partnership the companies growth strategy requires.

If resources permit conducting a very thorough competitive analysis report will allow you to focus additional attention on the nuances of a companies position in the market. The process to find the best partner or business ecosystem take a massive amount of time in researching data, but it can be the best business decision possible, if it leads to a successful relationship that assists in exponentially growing the companies line of products or services. It always is a significant investment of time to do the hard work, by simply going online and outsourcing the tedious and time consuming parts of the research and analysis, it can be sped up and allow the team to focus on key job requirements. By reviewing over review reports that are initially generated by gathering company information, products details, corporate messaging, etc and produced in a report, it is an affordable solution to allow you to judge, which companies require further investigation and warrant time pursuing a new business deal with.

In the end, the more information that is known about a potential business partner the better and conducting online research SWOT Analysis's of other small businesses is a cost effective solution to product basic results. By understanding the potential opportunity that exists quickly business executive can move forward with discarding the prospect or eventually contacting, negotiating, and finally signing a new deal without having to waste significant time meeting and discussing with partners that were never destined to be the right fit from the begining.


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