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.
You will need to develop or define important information about your company. In your business plan, you should have developed a Mission Statement, a Vision Statement, and a Culture Statement. If you did not develop these three items, you must create them immediately before continuing onward. It is vitally important that everyone knows about and buys in to these three company statements with all employee staff so that every person inside the business will communicate these items correctly to all external people outside of the business. You want their belief and confidence as high as the owners or top executives.