A small business that you have built and created can be quite close to your heart, and it is hard to take an honest look at how things are going and the ways in which you can improve the business outlook.
Let's be honest - there's a bit of pride involved too; saying something needs to change can seem a lot like admitting you have done something wrong.
Going in the Right Direction?
As painful as it may seem, you do need to analyze your business every few months to make sure that you are heading in the direction you intended from the start.
Your main tool for comparison will of course be that business plan you wrote out at the very beginning; are you meeting your goals in all the areas? If not, why not? It's the 'why not" that can be hard to answer.
The method we like best is a company SWOT analysis. This acronym stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Each category takes a look at different areas within your business you can assess and then build on to increase the success of your business.
The strengths, weaknesses, and especially the swot analysis opportunities are fairly straightforward; we will outline them a bit below.
These are areas in which your business has proven to be very, very successful. Usually, your business strengths will seem as though you hardly have to work at them in order to make them succeed.
Remember, though, that some schools of modern business thought suggest working on building strengths even further, rather than working on weaknesses.
If that's a thought pattern you subscribe to, then list some ways you can continue to build on your strengths.
On the other hand, there are always parts of a business that don't seem to go as smoothly.
These are noticeable because, as you continue your efforts at honest analysis, you know that the structural weaknesses are detrimental as far as your bottom line goes. It's up to you to find out where these weaknesses are and then make a decision about what to do with them.
As we mentioned above, some businesses may decide to ignore weaknesses and instead focus their energy on furthering their strengths. Some may go the opposite route, and choose to improve on areas of weakness within the company.
The swot analysis opportunities are probably the most exciting part of a company SWOT analysis, as it involved some realistic optimism.
Here, you can take a look at ways you can expand your business or marketing plan based on successes you have seen in the past. It's the part of the process where you will see great growth potential for your company.
Threats, on the other hand, are an altogether different animal and something which needs to be addressed in a more in depth manner. We'll take a look at what threats are and what you can do about them in our next article.