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Analyzing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) of a business is a well-established tool that is widely used by academics, consultants, and advisors. Although it is a simple concept, business owners often struggle when trying to use it because it is so broad. It is difficult to determine where to start, what questions to ask, and where to focus. The obvious problems get attention while many other important issues get overlooked. SWOT analysis is a great tool, but its effective use requires additional structure.

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It is not surprising that some people may perceive Six Sigma as being only for large corporations. Major corporations such as Allied Signal, Black & Decker, Dow Chemical, Dupont, Federal Express, General Electric, Johnson and Johnson, Kodak, Motorola, Sony, and Toshiba have all rolled out Six Sigma efforts and achieved outstanding results. Yet, it is incorrect to think that Six Sigma process improvement results can only be achieved by huge organizations. Small businesses can also succeed in implementing Six Sigma and reap the process improvement benefits that Six Sigma provides.

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Maybe you have already heard that in some ways immaterial values are important for business management. But you might not found how to bring them into your management processes or into your reporting packages. However, first of all we should be clear, what immaterial values are? Well, this includes the balance sheet information about intangible assets, but is going far behind it.

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Managers know the difficulty of getting people to do the right things the right way. And employees need their expertise and understanding of the way things should be done. But how do you get it across so it actually sticks? The answer is well-defined policies and procedures.

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In the first part of this series of articles, on managing your online business at home, I wrote about the many management responsibilities and functions you have rolled into one if you have your own sole proprietor business, with no staff. Your management task is perhaps the most difficult of all. You have to manage yourself, in all those different areas of your business such as finance, marketing, purchasing and computing.

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