When I start working with my clients, I will ask them to complete a SWOT analysis on themselves and their business.
If you’ve not done one before, a SWOT analysis is firstly having a good think about your strengths and weaknesses (SWOT) which are internal to your business – they will be the things you are strong or weak in. For example, you might be really strong in your specific skills, talent and experience but a weaker area may be those generic business skills you need to make a business out of your talent - finances or planning for example. The second part is looking at the opportunities and threats (SWOT) to your business. So, there may be global opportunities for you, but a threat might be the state of the economy, etc.
The reason I ask my clients to do this, is to allow them to see exactly what their business looks like right now – and get a feel for what they hope they can turn it into. It allows them to see the important areas where they are currently strong – there are often more strengths that people give themselves credit for – after all, we don’t like to blow our own trumpet. It allows them to see the areas where they need to improve and crucially, why. It allows them to see what is available to them and gives the opportunity to have a think about how those opportunities may be taken on board. And it allows the opportunity to see any pitfalls and whether they need to plan a route around them or embrace them.
The general idea of a SWOT analysis is that you can use the weaknesses, opportunities and threats to inform your business plan – ultimately you would be looking to turn your weaknesses, opportunities and threats into strengths over time.
So spending time in brainstorming mode is a great place to start if you’re either setting up, making changes to or scaling your business. You need to plant a stake in the ground where you are now – and you need to be aware of the work ahead.
Turning weaknesses into strengths
Today I want to talk specifically about turning those weaknesses into strengths. As I mentioned, the strengths and weaknesses are internal to your business – they are factors that you have control over. Don’t hide yourself under a bushel when you’re thinking about your strengths. These are so important to your business – you need to know exactly what you are good at. So don’t rely on yourself to identify these areas, ask family, friends and ex work colleagues. if you can, what they think you’re really good at – you may be surprised.
Be honest about your weaknesses. What are the areas that you know are important to your business, but you also know are not your strong areas? If you identify a few weaknesses, then it’s a good idea to put these in order of priority. What part is really important that you tackle – really important to get your business moving to the next stage?
When I undertook this exercise for my business, my top priority weakness was marketing. I knew that marketing would be crucial for my business. I’ve studied marketing for many years in the past and I know the theory well. I’ve also taken part in marketing activities in past roles, marketing planning and implementation – but I was never fully in charge of the process and it was secondary to the job I was doing at the time.
These days, for my business marketing is key, it’s crucial – if it isn’t done, I can’t move my business forward and the only person I can hold responsible for it is myself.
Over the past 18 months, I’ve been soaking up everything to do with marketing. I started in a place of “I can’t do this! This isn’t for me at all!”. I looked at what others were doing and wondered why I didn’t have their creative flair. I envied them for a while and then I realised that I needed to take a leaf out of their book and get on with it. I started reading books and I immersed myself in the practice of marketing. I joined membership groups and read more books, followed the marketing guru’s and learnt, and learnt.
One of the key learning points was implementing the learning and being consistent with my efforts. Something that is still hard – I’ve not mastered marketing yet; I’m still learning but I’m certainly SO much further down the line now than I was when I started out.
I still see marketing as a weakness for me - even though I had an amazing conversation with an associate of mine a few months ago now, we were talking about marketing in her business and at the end of the conversation she said “crikey Fay, why aren’t you my marketing manager?”! Praise indeed. But the reason I’m not there yet, is because doing it for yourself is always harder than doing it for others – crucially because I will let my mind monkeys get in my way.
So even though marketing is still a weakness, I have a plan in place and I’m busy working through that plan to turn marketing into a strength.
And this is what you need to do too, with your weaknesses.
What will you do?
From your priority list, what stands out as areas you need to tackle now – and what will you do to put a plan in place to turn these around?
Turning your weaknesses into strengths, or at the very least, like me, taking action, will benefit your business 10-fold. You’ll learn new skills, you’ll understand how other people are doing things, you’ll increase your confidence. Ultimately, you’ll have ups and downs but if you keep going you will succeed, and your business will be so much stronger for your efforts.
I’d love to know; are you going to go and carry out your SWOT analysis? What are you going to start changing today? Do let me know in the comments secion below.
Hi, I’m Fay!
I’m a business coach and adviser and I’m here to help you grow your business with clarity and confidence.
I’ve worked with business owners just like you for over 20 years.
I know that you started your business for flexibility and satisfaction and to live your purpose. You have a fabulous business idea that your ideal clients should love.
But you’re frustrated becuase it now feels daunting and overwhelming - there’s so much to do and you’re just not sure if all these things you’re doing are the right things.
I do know how you feel, and I’d love to take you from this confusion to creating a clear direction to develop the business you’ve always had in mind.