Has your company done a S.W.O.T. analysis? That's a Strength, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats checklist of internal and external factors affecting your business -- what you're good at and not so good at organizationally, where there are opportunities to grow, what threats might keep you from growing. An accurate and evolving S.W.O.T. analysis is a vital tool for any organization to use to influence strategy, focus, and the deployment of resources. If leveraged properly, a S.W.O.T. analysis can create a competitive advantage for you and your business in the marketplace.

Case in point: for a while now, we have recognized water restrictions as a threat to selling water features. But it wasn't until last year that we seriously focused on this element of our S.W.O.T. analysis. Seeing how severely water restrictions affected our customers in the Southeast, we knew it was high time to turn this threat into an opportunity. I'm excited to finally reveal (see When Not Hitting Your Numbers is a Good Thing) our much speculated on, new venture. In 2008, Aquascape is debuting our Rainwater Harvesting system, which is designed to turn a threat (water restrictions) into an opportunity (capture your own water on-site and reuse it). Never have we put more thought and planning into the roll-out of a new product. That's because unlike other Aquascape products and programs, Rainwater Harvesting launches us -- and our customers who choose to adapt their business model -- into a whole new and exciting aspect of our industry.

Two weeks ago, my president, T.D. Decker, and I, along with Ed Beaulieu (in his new role as C.S.O., that's Chief Sustainability Officer), and a select group of CACs (Certified Aquascape Contractors) installed a Rainwater Harvesting system for Disney World's Gardens of the Future exhibit at Epcot. Wow is all I can say! This is the sixth year we have built a display for Disney and the buzz this one has already generated far exceeds any previous exhibits. Disney -- and for that matter the world in general -- is thinking Green. Aquascape has always been a proponent of helping the environment; we build ecosystem water features, after all. When we began designing our headquarters, called Aqualand, in 2003, Green buildings were just becoming vogue. Today, we hope our launch into Rainwater Harvesting will inspire many not only to think about how precious fresh water is but also to create practical options that people can use at home to improve the environment. And by doing just that, we've turned a threat into an opportunity for our organization and the customers we serve.

The Pond Guy, T.D. Decker, Ed Beaulieu, and a select group of Certified Aquascape Contractors introduce the Aquascape Rain Water Harvesting system to the world at Disney's Epcot Center.

But taking an opportunity and actually generating income from it takes work. And the best way to do that for any organization is to align your company's strengths behind your efforts. Aquascape's strength is in its training and education. We're also good at creating simple solutions to complex problems, packaging them, and creating the right marketing to fuel demand.

For 2008 we have a week-by-week timeline to do just that with Rainwater Harvesting. If you couple the leveraging of our strengths with the blocking and tackling of business -- such as trademarked product names and patent-pending applications for the technology we've developed --- you put in place the final pieces of the puzzle of turning a threat into an opportunity.

Now more than ever, if you're trying to succeed in a challenging economy you need to understand your organization's Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Only then will you be able to maximize your efforts for the betterment of yourself, your customers, and maybe even the environment in the process.