Monday, September 27, 2010

SWOT Analysis Benefit

You don't have to be running a multinational company to benefit from a SWOT analysis. No matter what size your enterprise, you will take a benefit from running a quick SWOT check.

For those who don't know, a SWOT analysis covers your STRENGTHS, WEAKNESSES, OPPORTUNITIES, and THREATS.

Take your strengths to begin with. All businesses have them; otherwise, there wouldn't be a business in the first place. The point of highlighting them, is to increase them. If you can STRENGTHEN your STRENGTHS, you are on to a winner. And if you clearly understand what your strengths are, it is so much easier to add to them.

If you have a strong line of product sellers, then try and increase them. If you have a good agent, or good employee, producing great results, then give them more work and responsibility. If you have an exclusive line that pays a great margin, then market it more aggressively. Push your strengths, and ignore those products and lines that don't produce enough, or sufficient, profit.

WEAKNESSES? All businesses have those too. Know what they are, and attack them relentlessly as if they were the devil incarnate. Business is war, and it is a war that needs winning. Perhaps your products are too dear. Then do something about it. Perhaps they are not producing sufficient margin. Then tackle that head on. Perhaps you have a shop and too much of your stock is going missing. Then install CCTV. Perhaps your products are going out of date. Then wake up, and modernise. May be you don't spend enough time on your business. Then quit watching soaps. I did, and it was the best thing I ever did. A good businessperson always knows their weaknesses inside out, and addresses them as much as they are able. Identify and destroy weaknesses as if they are an alien force about to obliterate your particular planet. If you don't, they will.

OPPORTUNITIES: If any business is to survive in the longer term, it must create and take on board new opportunities. Any business that chugs along doing the same thing month in month out, year in year out, without keeping one eye to the future, is a business that is ultimately doomed. So, what opportunities are currently out there for you? Perhaps there is a range of new ebooks that have come on the market with reproduction rights. May be there is an opportunity there for you increase your range, or venture into a completely new field, for you. May be the local pet shop in your town is closing down. Perhaps there is an opportunity there to enter that trade and mop up their previous business, and goodwill. Or may be the company you work for full time is closing down, or the boss you work for is retiring. Is there an opportunity there for you to take over, or buy that business? Perhaps you could even arrange easy payment terms to pay for it out of your ongoing profits over the next year, or better still, the next five years. There are many stories about, of employees buying the business they work for, and ultimately making a huge success of it. And why not? After all, who knows any business better, than an inside employee? They know where there is hidden value, and they know where the skeletons are buried. We have all heard people say "I could run it better myself". Well, perhaps you could. But have you got the bottle, the energy, and the financial muscle to do so, or could you find it? And if that chance really does come along, may be you should look seriously at grabbing it, before someone else does. Chances like that only appear so many times in life. Your OPPORTUNITIES analysis will highlight that, and any other potential opportunities too.

THREATS: lastly the worst one of all, and the one that is so easy to ignore, and even not notice at all, until it creeps up on you, and thumps you in the profit line. In my local town, there were two newsagents. They have been there for as long as anyone could remember, and both have a loyal and enthusiastic bunch of customers. Then along came the giant Tesco. It wasn't one of those superstore all embracing bullies, but a smaller convenience store. But it was still going to be open all hours, it was still going to be a price efficient and formidable competitor. As soon as the planning permission for that store appeared in the local press, one of the newsagents sold out. Got a good price for it too, by all accounts, while the other one showed no signs of even noticing the aggressive newcomer about to open on his doorstep. This story is only in its infancy, but if that newsagent is still open in three or four years time, I for one will be very surprised. Identify your threats, and don't be afraid of doing something about it. All businesses have threats. It does not matter whether you run a small mail order business from home, a letting agent on the high street, or a boat builder on the river. All businesses have threats of some kind, that's the way of things.

That is why a regular SWOT analysis will keep you fully aware of what they are, and where they are coming from, and if you do that, you can react against them in the most positive way. If you do nothing, and hope those threats evaporate, you run the risk of being swamped, or gobbled up. Threats rarely disappear by themselves. Always try and confront them head on.

If you are running a successful business, then instigate a yearly SWOT check. It will not take you too long to carry out, and it could save you your business and your livelihood. If you are running an unsuccessful business, then perhaps it is even more imperative that you run a SWOT analysis right now. Once you understand your weaknesses and threats, you can attack them. Once you understand why you are not making any money, you can introduce a well thought out plan to do something about it. Running a business is not just about selling, it is about managing too. A SWOT analysis is an essential tool for any good manager. Running a SWOT is a sign of a well-run business; and more often than not, a sign of a successful business too

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