Know Thy Self!
Before embarking on any plan its important to know what our SWOTs are and in case you are unfamiliar with the term, SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats
Identifying our SWOTs will help us highlight where we should be concentrating our efforts to amplify our strengths, what we should be improving (our weaknesses) and, what to look out for in terms of opportunities and threats.
How does this help?
Carving out a niche – we can’t be all things to all people, so it’s important to find where we fit within the business community and what sets us apart
Our elevator pitch – getting our message across clear and concisely
Collaboration – You will be able to sift through collaboration opportunities to easily identify which ones will be mutually beneficial to both parties
Standing apart – know the unique selling points (USP) of your business and what sets you apart from your competitors.
How to do a SWOT analysis
It is especially important that you write your SWOT analysis down, so we have prepared a SWOT matrix for you to Download HERE. You may want to do a draft version first to get your teams collective brain working and then revisit each element again later to expand on your findings.
Then take each element in turn…
What is your USP?
What do you do better than your competitors?
What resources/experience do you bring to your customers?
What factors bring customers to your business?
What do your customers like about working with you?
Think about your strengths from both an internal and external point of view. When looking at your company, what do your competitors think? what do your customers think? What do other members of the team offer in terms of providing value?
Also keep your competitors in mind when listing strengths, if you have a similar offering then it’s not a strength specific that is to you, ie, if you all offer next day delivery, then it will be a customer expectation and not a strength.
What areas require improvement?
What factors lose you sales?
What areas of the business are you not good at? (can they be outsourced?)
What DON’T your customers like about you?
What is your team missing in terms of skills, knowledge, equipment?
Are you in the ideal location?
This exercise is hard and can be disheartening but by identifying your weaknesses you can make improvements right away and look out for areas of improvement.
Make sure you also consider your weaknesses from both internal and external points of view. Identifying what your customers don’t like, or a skill you can offer can be an easy fix and drastically improve your business.
Is your market growing or changing? Identify trends.
Can technology be of benefit?
Are there industry events that you could attend?
Will there be any changes in regulations that could benefit your company or processes?
Can you benefit from changing social factors?
To identify opportunities its is helpful to reflect back on your strengths and weaknesses, ie, if you have identified that you could benefit from increasing your network, you may want to look for events to attend to meet other businesses, similarly, if you have identified that one of your strengths is that you are the only business of your kind in the area, you could benefit from looking further afield to areas that don’t have your service to let more people know about you.
Are there changes to your industry that could potentially harm your business?
What are your competitors doing?
Are your suppliers able to maintain supply?
Is customer behaviour changing?
Could technology be a threat to your processes?
NOTE: The PEST analysis is useful for identifying threats and opportunities by looking at external factors lead by Political, Economic, Social/Cultural and Technology changes. It’s always worthwhile to keep up with industry news, so may be worthwhile considering joining governing bodies or subscribing to industry publications.
Be as specific as possible – your first draft is collating information but for your strategy you want to know your figures. Eg, “ability to bulk buy at £x/unit due to xyz membership” is better than “lower costs than competitors”
List the most significant factors first and make them a priority – if this is the first time you are doing a SWOT you may find it a bit overwhelming, but you don’t need to do make lots of changes all at once. We’ll cover more of this in Goal Setting
Be Honest – There may be issues arise that you aren’t comfortable confronting, it is essential that you do so to make this exercise effective
Write down everything – don’t think you will remember it later, you won’t.