That’s right — a SWOT.
This tried and true academic exercise can reveal much about your small business. It helps in several ways not the least of which is that it forces you to take the outsider’s perspective about your own business. This objective way of strategically analyzing your business through the lens of a rigid Situation Analysis technique uses Strengths + Weaknesses + Opportunities + Threats to determine where you are and where you can go.
Here’s what a standard SWOT chart looks like:
Make your own chart, or heck, just a bulleted list will do just fine. The point is to do it.
It’s not just for corporate wonks! I highly recommend taking time each year to do this exercise. It’s well worth your time and almost always yields amazing, actionable insights for growth.
This means doing a thorough (and I mean THOROUGH!) analysis of your business. What are your internal strengths? What are you good at? What are your employees good at? What do you/they love doing? What resources do you have? Or, can you tap into?
Now, you must tackle your internal weaknesses. Own a store, but not in a great location? Having trouble attracting new customers? Undercapitalized? If you are a solopreneur this could include personal issues such as being disorganized.
Externally, you must assess your opportunities. Free-think here without constraints. For example, one of the opportunities I identified for my business years ago was the creation of a prepaid Marketing Session. This telephone-delivered solution lets me be flexible with my location (not locked in my office) while still taking on client work. So long as I have my phone and my laptop, I can do business.
And, finally there are threats. We all have them. Threats are anything external from your competition (that new restaurant in town) to changing demographics to new laws (minimum wage) that will affect your business. Sadly, there’s not much we can do about these, but once we identify what they are, we can work around them.
Some of you may rush through this and still come out OK, but for those of you who take your time and are thoughtful about this exercise — you WILL see benefits.
Here’s to an amazing and successful 2017!