How to be a ‘Commercial’ Marathon Runner by looking at the Big Picture …

What a glorious weekend for those running the marathon. Perfect weather, perfect temperature, perfect conditions but with a change in the way so many looked on due to the Boston Marathon incident. Something local that can have implications in so many different ways from events some 3300+miles away (3325ml if you’re truly interested).

Change affects us all in a myriad different ways and in the world of commerce, this can be even more dramatic so often tools such as SWOT analysis are used.

However, have you considered looking at the bigger picture that ultimately affects what you do? The ‘OT’ (Opportunities and Threats) of SWOT can be further explored by another acronym in PEST (Political, Economic, Social-Cultural and Technological – believed to be created by Harvard professor Francis Aguilar)

In brief, PEST …

  1. Gives you advanced warning of significant threats yet aids in spotting business or personal opportunities.
  2. Assists with avoiding the start of projects that are likely to fail, for reasons beyond your control.
  3. Reveals the direction of change within the business environment. Helping shape and to work with change, rather than against it.

Unlike SWOT, which focuses inward, PEST is best used to open the thought process and to ‘Brainstorm’ ideas.



  • Consider what happened at the Eastleigh, Hampshire, UK by-election! What affect did that have on Government? Could the next election change government policy?
  • Who are the contenders? What are business policy views/opinions, or other policies that affect your business?
  • Will business regulation and/or planned changes to it, affect your business? Is there a trend towards regulation or deregulation?
  • Are there any other political factors that are likely to change?
  • Could any pending legislation changes affect your business, positively or negatively?



  • How stable is the current economy? How is it in your market?
  • Where are customers’ levels of disposable income at? What’s the likelihood of change in the next few years?
  • What is happening concerning unemployment?
  • How accessible is credit for businesses or consumers? Will this affect you?
  • Is globalization affecting your economic environment?



  • What is the population’s growth rate and age profile? How is this likely to change?
  • Are generational shifts in attitude likely to affect what you’re doing?
  • What attitudes toward work can you ‘truly’ observe? Do they differ for different age groups?
  • How do lifestyle choices or religious beliefs affect the population?



  • Are there any upcoming technologies that could radically affect your industry? (the internet with the likes of Jessops!)
  • What new technologies could you be using?
  • How have infrastructure changes affected work patterns (ie, remote or home working)?
  • What other technological factors that you should consider?



Now you know the changes, brainstorm all the potential opportunities that could be opened up for you (regardless of how inept they may first appear). Is there a new market you could venture into? Are there new products or services you could offer?


Equally as important, consider and brainstorm these too. What could potentially demoralise your business and considering these at this early stage, what can you do to minimise the impact knowing in advance rather than fire-fighting them later?


This is the area I love. Once you know what the Opportunities are, how to break the Threats, or at least, minimalise them … Take action and build these into a Business Plan

This tool can be used by individuals but so much more benefit can be gained by inviting others to join in and contribute as their perception may bring different ideas to the table than just the ones you may have.

Coaching to Success frequently help organisations with such tools as we know how to delve that little bit deeper to understand obstacles or barriers that may not be revealed due to the closeness to the business. Being external, we’re trained how to ask incisive questions to find those little diamonds often missed and to open up the thought process.

Have a go and consider how your organisation would benefit. To open the thought process further, and to explore the other benefits coaching/mentoring can bring, contact Neil Nutburn on 07761 187238 or send an email to to arrange a free, no obligation consultation.

Our business is about your success and your future successes are in your hands so give us a call so we can help you turn the ideas into reality.