Starting and managing a business takes a lot of hard work, but there are some powerful, tried and tested techniques top marketing agencies use that you as a small business owner need to take advantage of. These techniques will help make running your business a lot less tedious and a lot more productive.
One of these techniques is conducting a SWOT analysis.
SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Determining what these four elements are will give you a clearer view of what your business is all about, and what you need to do to move forward in your marketing efforts. This is how you do it:
Build on your STRENGTHS.
Your business’ strength is your competitive advantage. This includes aspects of your business that are performing well and making you look good in the eyes of your consumers. Once you’ve identified your strong points, work toward making sure you say good at it, or get even better.
Note, however, that many businesses make the mistake of focusing only on their strengths and not much else. This is not what SWOT is about. Conducting a SWOT analysis will bring out a lot of issues to the surface, and as a business owner, it’s your job to make sense of your findings and create a bigger picture about your business.
Don’t stop here. Keep going.
Improve your WEAKNESSES.
Let’s face it: not all businesses are perfect. There will always be an aspect or two that you’re going to suck at, but that’s okay. What you do about your weaknesses is what’s important. There are businesses that let their weaknesses paralyze them. On the other hand, some businesses completely ignore their weaknesses.
Neither of these two are beneficial to your business.
As you consider your weaknesses, remember not to feel demoralized. This is your chance to make improvements, to keep these weaknesses from posing problems to your business in the long run. It’s always good to have a healthy dose of reality while being grateful for an opportunity to work toward progress.
Seize those OPPORTUNITIES.
Times are ever-changing, and what might not have worked for your business in the past may now be promising opportunities. These opportunities are usually results of external factors, such as technological advancements, shifts in consumer trends, or market changes.
Do note that it is important to think creatively when considering your opportunities, as they might not always be so apparent.
Word of warning, though. Finding great opportunities doesn’t mean you have to dive into them right away. This is where knowing what your STRENGTHS and WEAKNESSES are comes to play. Consider them and ask yourself if you are capable and ready to take on these opportunities before making a decision.
Threats usually come in the form of marketing efforts done by your competitors, but they could also be caused by other factors such as market changes or new government policies. Again, depending on your business’ STRENGTHS and WEAKNESSES, you will be able to come up with adjustments and other steps to counteract whatever threats come your way.
Performing a SWOT analysis on your business is also helpful in addressing business concerns such as employee performance, product development, business culture, operational efficiency, and more. And because many huge decisions may be derived from this exercise, here’s how best to do it: INVOLVE OTHER PEOPLE.
Brainstorm with your team. They will either implement or be affected by the decisions you will make, after all. Involving them in this process can also help create new ideas or identify potential threats you haven’t seen/thought of yet.
Reach out to your customers, or conduct a third-party research. An outsider’s perspective is good feedback in that this helps you avoid being biased in your analysis.
For optimal results, I suggest you conduct a periodical SWOT analysis on your business. Ideally, you make SWOT analysis every six months, but not all businesses have the same needs anyway, so sometimes you have to play it by ear.
Are you preparing to make a significant business decision?
Or are you perhaps restructuring your business model or launching a new product?
Could there be external factors that might affect the way you run your business?
If your answer to any of these questions is YES, then you will need a SWOT analysis, stat. Call your team in and start brainstorming.
Need a little help? Feel free to use this template I created specifically for this exercise. You’re welcome, and good luck!