One of the most widely known strategy tools is the SWOT, but it is widely misunderstood.

Often there is confusion about what is a strength, and what is an opportunity, similarly, what is a weakness, and what is a threat.

 Strengths and weaknesses are internal to  the business, they are under the control of those in the business, and a strength is not just something you do well, that is like having a watch that tells the time, it is something that makes your business distinctive.

Threats and opportunities are a result of external conditions, and usually there is little a business can do to create them,  the best they can do is anticipate and manage the adverse impacts, and leverage the opportunities.

Most businesses automatically set out to build on their existing strengths, when often improving on their weaknesses offers a better return on the resource investment necessary. Turning a weakness into a strength also has the potential to create surprise, and the resulting competitive edge, simply because it is unexpected.