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Starting a Business? Give yourself a good SWOT!

1358074897_flow-chartIn my line of work, I deal with a number of new businesses and meet a lot of new people. Every one of them acknowledges that starting a business is hard, but I am always amazed at how so few of them actually do any formal business planning.

Starting a business is more than just working on your own at something that you are good at. The first challenge is actually managing to “get” the work. So, how do you do this?  Do you go door-to-door? Start a Facebook page or Twitter account? Ask your firned and family?  Advertise in the newspaper or on TV?

The answer is “sure, but not yet”. Why?

Well, the very first thing that you need to do is to understand what it is that YOU offer. Why should someone choose to go to you rather than the guy down the street? What do you have to offer?


Enter the SWOT.  S.W.O.T. stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

Strengths are those attributes and skills that you possess that make you stand out. Essentially, these are the things that you are good at. The ones that truly make you rise above the competition are your “competitive advantage”. These are the things that you really rely on to help your business grow.

Weaknesses are those things that you are not so good at (or truly horrible at). Some matter more than others. The key here is recognizing what your weaknesses are, and then planning on how you can overcome them so that they do not negatively impact your business. For example, I tend to multi-task too much and often forget about upcoming appointments. Not good for my line of business. To mitigate this, I rely upon my personal assistant (ok, she’s my wife) to remind me throughout the week to check my calendar and to record appointments. She’s definitely helped me avoid a number of mistakes that could have potentially ruined my business early on.

Opportunities are what exist outside of your business that you should consider going after. If you manage to find an area that is under serviced, then you have the potential of being the leader in servicing the area. This is a good way to find your market niche.

Threats are those forces that tend to get in the way of you realizing the opportunities. They are outside of your control. They include things like increased competition, tax regulations, seasonality, etc. You need to consider these and, as with the weaknesses, find ways to lessen their impact as much as possible.

Creating your own SWOT analysis is a good first step towards becoming successful in your business. But it is not the only step. In fact, the process is quite large. However, over the next few weeks, I will provide some other steps that you can take to give yourself the best shot at success in your business.

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