You will need to define your goals and objectives. We always encourage companies to make their goals S.M.A.R.T. which means Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time Sensitive with dates attached. Most goals are calculated on an annual basis. However, the more ambitious owners or executives will look ahead at 3, 5, and 10 year goals as well. And if you are in Japan, you will be setting 100 year goals.
Gathering information: this stage is based on the concept of marketing audit. After performing the audit of the macro_environment by analyzing the STEP factors (social, technologic, economic and politic), we should turn the focus upon the immediate extern environment (the micro_environment) and analyze the competitive environment, the costs and the market. Finally, we will conclude with the SWOT analysis, by this way we will have a general view upon the internal environment compared to the external one. The SWOT analysis combine the two perspectives, from the inside and from the outside, because the Strengths and the Weaknesses are internal issues of an organization, while the Opportunities and Threads come from the outside.