Take the Time to do your…SWOT

Do you remember what a SWOT is? Most people have come across this term sometime during their school days or maybe during a business course of some kind. Personally, I remember learning this model a few times , I remember thinking it was nice and easy , but I wasn’t sure it was useful enough to practice in my day to day life.

Years have gone by and school days are long behind me. My employee days are long gone too, and the memory of learning or even using the SWOT model has faded away. Last week, during one of our staff meetings, I found myself instinctively scribbling this model on a piece of paper. At the end of this meeting, the SWOT model all over again, proved to be a very useful and easy to use tool. A model that doesn’t take a long time to do, and that stimulates you to actually stop what you are currently doing, and think about it.

As business owners , we work at different levels. The basic level is to actually do the work itself for your clients. Work at this level, is one which we all hopefully do. The second level, is to manage the day to day work with tasks such as keeping deadlines, managing cash-flow and projects. Work at this level only some of us do, fully or partially, to some extend. And the third level, is managing the business at a strategic level, which let’s be honest, only a few of the small business owners get to do on a regular basis, if at all.

This strategic planning often gets left out. Many people believe that you need to be an MBA graduate or a senior manager in a blue-chip company, to be able to do this. Another reason for not doing it, is the ever worn-out excuse of not having enough time. As small business owners, the strategic planning is vital for the life of our business. While a big company normally has enough capital to survive new market threats and weaknesses , a small company can close it’s doors for good, just because a new tiny competitor came into the market. As a small business owner, performing a reality check from time to time, is literally a question of life or death for your business.

The SWOT model gives you the opportunity to do this strategic planning in a simple, structured way, that doesn’t take weeks or a huge effort to complete .

It was originally developed by Robert Humphrey ,and is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats. The idea behind it, is that you can build a matrix of the internal factors in your business (Strengths, Weaknesses) and see how they compare with the external factors in your market (Opportunities, Threats).

It sounds like stating the obvious, but once you put it on paper like this ;

 

Swot Analysis Matrix source: Wikipedia

 

it gives you a much clearer picture of your business and the actions you need to take, to make sure your business is and continue to be viable and successful.

There are many intricate ways to use this SWOT model ,but the way we used it at iQDesk, was very simple and intuitive. We listed the Strengths and Weaknesses of our company. At this point you need to see the business as it is, and be brutally honest about it. And then we brain stormed the Opportunities and Threats in our market. This gave us a very clear picture of the current state of our business which was great as a point of reference too.

The idea is not to stop here, but to take some serious action. Once you have the complete picture, you can build a strategic plan of how to use your strengths combined with the opportunities and resolve the weaknesses and the threats you are facing.

As business owners, we tend to invest the majority of the time on actually working in the business, but taking the time to work on the business, at a strategic level is often neglected.

 

Added by iQDesk Ltd.

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