Move Your Business Through SWOT
You are probably wondering how in the world SWOT moves your business but it is one of the best assessments we have ever ever used to insure that we address any issues in our business before facing a move. Here to share with us today all about what SWOT is and what it can do for your business is fellow photographer and military veteran, Colleen Bies. Colleen is the principal photographer at colleenbies.com and is soon launching her brand all about tactical entrepreneurship.
What is SWOT
Before we get into how to move your business through SWOT, we need to know what it is. Having financial and strategic goals is great, but how often do you evaluate your SWOT? If your answer is “never” or “what’s SWOT?!” then here’s what you need to know to get started now. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. It’s a way of assessing your business and where it is now. SWOT is used as a tool for strategic planning. You can’t know where to move forward in your business if you don’t know where you are or who and what’s around you now?
You might think you already know what’s going on in your business, or what’s coming, but taking the time to sit down and conduct a SWOT analysis will greatly benefit your short and long-term success. Not only is this analysis critical to complete when you are first starting your business, but it should be done at least every year, in addition to every time a major shift in your business occurs.
What Shift are You Facing
What constitutes a major shift? Here are some examples. While not inclusive of every significant change you might face, this list will give you a good idea of when and why it would be advantageous to conduct a new SWOT analysis:
- Moving outside your current market area
- Accident or injury that will affect your ability to serve your clients
- Significantly changing your offerings
- New technology that will affect your business directly
- Big changes in personal life (getting married, having children, losing a job, etc.)
Now, let’s take a look at the elements of a SWOT analysis, and how you can use it to assess your business.
When looking at your strengths, it’s important to consider everything that makes you stand out among your competitors. Start asking yourself what it is that you do better than anyone else. Perhaps you have an advanced degree in your field or hold an accreditation that others typically do not. Or maybe you possess years of expertise that your competitors don’t. When assessing your strengths, writing general benefits like “excellent customer service” aren’t what you’re looking to uncover here. You must dive into the specific reason your customer service is excellent. For example, do you have a return policy or a technical assistance program that your competitors don’t offer? Highlight what it is about your service that truly stands out.
When considering your business’s weaknesses, think about the ones you have the ability to overcome with access to the right education, experiences, or resources. Your analysis in this section is focused on identifying realistic and achievable areas for improvement, not self-bashing! This is not to say that you must improve all weaknesses. Your goal is to identify each and then put into place next action steps to minimize them rather than resolving each one altogether. Remember, some weaknesses will remain simply because there are outside factors hindering them from being totally eradicated.
Sometimes opportunities are staring you right in the face, but you are too busy dealing with everything else to notice them. (Love when that happens and one reason why the SWOT analysis is a great exercise to revisit yearly in your business) It’s important to take time to brainstorm new opportunities that you could be taking advantage of in order to increase business and raise your profits. It could be something as simple as offering additional items to your current client base or upselling. Or, staying abreast of changes in your industry, and taking advantage of trends by being the first to offer something new and different in your target area.
Threats are not what it sounds like. Threats are not necessarily personal, direct blows to your business. What we really want to address here are big-picture changes in government policy or shifts in the economy and overall market that will drastically change how you do business. Sure, if a competitor has a huge campaign that will significantly and adversely affect your business, that can be considered a threat. But keep most of your threat analysis focused on large trends or changes outside of your control that you need to identify, be aware of, and make decisions around in order to ensure they don’t affect your business too much.
When you take time to analyze your business by thinking about these prompts, you will ensure your business stays on stable ground today, and continues to build a strong foundation for the future.
Ready to conduct your own SWOT analysis? Click below for an editable, downloadable PDF worksheet! Simply type and print, or print and write by hand. Keep this worksheet on file and continue to use it often, year after year or anytime you encounter a major shift. Best of luck to you in your business endeavors! Reach out anytime to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get Colleen's SWOT Worksheet
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