Business - Industry Environment

Know the business you're in!

Business - Industry Environment

Know the business you're in!

How well do you know your business/industry environment? One of the fundamentals of good management is understanding the business you are in and, the wider industry environment in which your organization operates.

Knowledge of these can help you answer some vital questions, such as: what are the trends in your industry, and what changes in the wider environment present opportunities or threats to your organisation? To answer these and other questions you need to be able to study the context of your business or industry.

So how do you analyze your business industry environment? The experts suggest that you use a variety of analytical tools and frameworks. There are several good reasons for using these. Firstly, they are widely used in management so, like it or not, you should try to become familiar with the language of business strategy.

These tools are more than just jargon though, they provide managers with practical aids to help them become better at their jobs. They help us to make sense of complex ideas, detailed information and broader trends, which will impact on our organizations. Finally, they can help to provide insights and maybe spark our own intuitive ideas on what to do now, and what to do next. These will all help you to understand and develop a business strategy.

Underpinning any business strategy is awareness and analysis of environmental factors. One way to make sense of the business/industry environment is to consider it in terms of three distinct layers. These are known as the internal environment, the sector/industry environment, and the macro environment.



The Internal Environment

This is about your own organization. Analyzing your internal environment means looking at the systems, resources, knowledge, skills and activities of your organization and its people. Taking a strategic approach to this environment means considering how all these factors can be controlled and deployed to meet opportunities in the market place, and even to shape and lead that market.

This is the one environment over which the organisation as a whole has most control. Understanding and managing the internal environment can help you both shape strategy, and organise and direct resources to achieve what you want.

However, to do so with any degree of success requires an understanding of the world outside, that is the external environments.

The Business Sector/Industry Environment

This is the external environment closest to the organisation itself. It is the business/industry environment in which your organisation operates. It includes your customers/clients, suppliers and partners. It also includes competitors, those organisations that compete for your customers or offer alternative approaches to your services.

Analysis of this environment requires a good look at the current and forecast situation regarding:

  • Your customers – who are they, what do they really want, what changes are happening in their lives, attitudes, numbers, etc.
  • Your competitors – both those you currently compete against and any organisations which may begin to compete with you in the future.
  • Your collaborators – partnerships, supply chains, professional bodies, and not forgetting the availability of staff.

Of course your analysis should consider any opportunities that changes in any of these stakeholder groups may present. Your findings and judgements can then be used to help you to set and achieve your business goals.

The Macro Environment

The broadest layer of the business/industry environments is often referred to as the macro-environment. This relates to political, economic, socio-cultural, technological, legal and ecological factors that impact, to a greater or lesser extent, on all organizations. These are often referred to by the acronym PESTLE (or similar variations on the theme, such as PEST or SLEPT). Whichever name you use, a PESTLE analysis is a very useful tool to help managers conduct a thorough, broad-ranging analysis of the macro environment.

Analyzing and asking questions about this macro environment is another critical activity in strategic management. Is the country/region going through a boom or recession? What’s happening to unemployment? What is the impact of legislation, either local or in your target market? What are government spending targets? What about population trends in your working locations and in relation to your customers? How might these affect labour supply or your customer base? What do any of your findings mean in relation to you or your organization? Are they opportunities or threats?

Organizations don’t exist in a vacuum. Organizational environments are constantly changing and being aware of those changes is crucial for any manager. Developing an understanding of your business/industry environment is the first step towards developing your strategy. Analyzing the information and intelligence you gather from this understanding is the next step, essential for informing your business goal setting. Find out more about business planning by reading our series on the subject, starting with Business Goal Setting: Using the F-Plan.

Setting business or personal goals?

You can find more about the benefits of goal setting in our e-guide: SMART Goals, SHARP Goals. The guide contains 30 pages and 5 tools to help you to set SMART goals, then take SHARP action to achieve them. It includes:

  • Business Industry EnvironmentHow do you define goal setting?
  • What features of goal setting are important, if we want to ensure they are more likely to be successfully achieved?
  • What kinds of goals are more likely to make us motivated to achieve them?
  • How do you set SMART goals?
  • Why do goals matter?
  • What kind of goals should you pursue to be happier in what you do?
  • How do you set team goals?
  • What strategies can you apply to overcome barriers to setting goals?
  • How do you develop SHARP plans of action that help you to achieve your goals?
  • What techniques can you use to get things done?
  • How do you set personal goals?

Looking for more resources?

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