Once you start a business it’s easy to fall into a stagnant area where you are satisfied with where you are but the business is not growing. This is detrimental because it obstructs growth.
Developing a Strategic Plan
A successful business owner is always looking at what works and what doesn’t. We must look at what extrinsic and intrinsic factors are effecting the business and scope out what new opportunities and threats are present. A very effective tool for this analysis would be a ‘SWOT’ (Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities Threats) Analysis. This analysis helps you see how you stand out in the marketplace; how you can grow as a business; and where you are vulnerable.
When looking at the strengths of your business these are some factors to consider. Do you feel you have a competitive advantage over other people in your market? Think about what makes your company superior and capitalize on this. Other strengths include any specific skills that you have, or experiences that you have been through that have broadened you horizons and gives you company a step up over other companies. Something that makes you exclusive and cannot be easily copied. Strengths do not have to solely be skill-based. They can also include high-demand real-estate, good financial stability and organization, a happy well-trained staff, good leadership, and a loyal customer base.
Analysing your Weaknesses
Any good business is only as strong as its weakest link therefore knowing our businesses weaknesses is key to success. These are the factors that stop your business from reaching its highest level of efficiency. Some weaknesses include unreliable business partners/ suppliers, old equipment, poor marketing and exposure, insufficient leadership, and missing skillsets.
There are always new developments being made that can help your business. New innovations and markets developments can offer beneficial alliances and opportunities to make new sales. Technological advances can also increase the overall output of your business, knowing your target demographic allows you to specialize your product, support from various government organizations is also available. A good tip to find new opportunities is to look at what is missing in the market, or what weaknesses your competitors have and fulfill that deficiency in the market.
Now that we know the good, the bad, and the new opportunities for the optimal business, we need to look at what potential threats there are to endanger our growth. This can be factors that are out of your control like a declining economy, a decrease in the popularity of your product, a community protest, or conflicting laws. By anticipating what the potential threats to your business are you can prepare to combat against them but, this system will only work if you are honest and critical when self-evaluating yourself.
A SWOT analysis doesn’t have to be a long, complex document. Two or three pages of point-form notes are usually sufficient. Free templates for a SWOT analysis are easy to find on the Internet.