Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Are you starting a business? Don't forget your SWOT Analysis!

I seem to be running into a lot of people in the process of starting a business. I've met a start-up technology entrepreneur, a pet sitting/groomer entrepreneur, and a brand new CPA, all during the past week. One thing they have in common is a burning desire for FREEDOM through owning their own business.

Several themes developed in my conversations with these aspiring entrepreneurs. What did they need to do to be successful each of them asked? What roadblocks would they possibly run into? What key activity do they need to perform consistently?

First of all, many entrepreneurs fail to do adequate research into their business idea. Is there actually a need for their product or service in the geographic area they have chosen? Who is the competition? Who are they competing against and what do they need to work on to improve their chances of success?

One often-overlooked way to accurately determine if you're on the right track is to perform a SWOT Analysis. Creating a SWOT will help you determine your market position.

1. What are the company’s STRENGTHS?

What unique advantages does your company have?
What do customers rave about?
What unique resources do you have access to?
What do others see as your strengths?

2. What are the company’s WEAKNESSES?

What could you improve?
What should you avoid?
What do others see as your weaknesses?
What do customers complain about the most?

3. What are the company’s greatest OPPORTUNITIES?

What opportunities are you not taking advantage of? Go on, admit you have opportunities you haven't taken advantage of. Most of my clients learn to leverage opportunities they were either too afraid to pursue or were consciously unaware of. This is one of the greatest keys to success.
What trends could you leverage?
How can you turn your weaknesses into opportunities?

4. What are the company’s greatest THREATS?

What trends could harm you? Is there a technology or new service that could come along and wipe you out?
What obstacles do you face?
What is your competition doing?
Are the required specifications for your job, products or services changing?
Do you have bad debt or cash-flow problems?
Could any of your weaknesses seriously threaten your business?

A SWOT Analysis is not only key for start-ups but for established businesses that haven't taken a good look at their competitive position lately. Could you benefit from this exercise?

Grow Your Business and Prosper!
Suzanne Muusers
Business Coach for Entrepreneurs and Financial Advisors

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