SWOT Analysis: Identifying Your Threats

Last week I talked about opportunities, following up from my post on SWOT Analysis:  Simple Tool to Improve Your Business.  If you missed one of these previous posts it may be best to go back and review them in order.

Today I will review our discussion on Threats (the “T” in SWOT) as it applies to my business as well as the 15 other small and mid size companies in the exercise.  The discussion on Threats was led by Angie Swartz, Executive Coach and Founder of Six Figure Moms Club.  Angie opened the analysis with a brief discussion on threats.  Angie quoted from Wikipedia’s definition of threats:  “Threats: external conditions which could do damage to the business’s performance”.

The group had the following ideas to think about before our discussion insuring each person was prepared to discuss possible threats:

What is your competition offering that you are not?
Are competitive businesses moving into your area?
Are economic trends changing your customer spending habits?
What social trends are impacting your business?

Angie then opened it up to the group for discussion asking members to discuss their discovered threats.  Here is some of the discussion:

  • Justin Stewart, Customer Service Supervisor with San Diego National Bank talked about his larger institutions undercutting the value of what his bank can offer and the negative perception and distrust of financial companies in the current market.  Leon Alchalel Investment Realtor with Keller Williams added while this is a threat it is also an opportunity because more people and businesses are looking for service the larger institutions cannot offer.  Justin also added that while the larger bank institutions are getting a lot of negative publicity, San Diego National Bank is financially very strong which attracts new clients looking for financially strong institutions.
  • Katina Jackson, Independent Associate with Pre-Paid Legal said her biggest threat is the amount of Pre-Paid Legal representatives in her market.  Art Kriegsmann, President of H.R. Servs., Inc. asked if there was a way to separate herself from the other Pre-Paid Legal representatives?  Katina stated she focuses on seniors working within that niche market.  She also does a lot of networking events and then follows up with each of them creating a stronger connection.  This connection leads to more clients and referrals.

I found identifying my threats the most difficult part in the SWOT Analysis.  I look at threats as a negative which I typically stay away from.  Looking at negative influences around me is like adding fuel to a fire that I am choosing not to see.  With that said I also realize the need to be aware of both the positive and negative around me to help identify potential opportunities.  So with much thought the main threat I have identified is the perception of the businesses and sales professionals I work with.

Right now, most small business owners are cutting back on all marketing and advertising like appreciation campaigns, referral strategies, and follow up systems, as this is a simple fix to cash flow problems. The current economy amplifies the creativity in coming up with a great excuse not to do it implement new marketing and advertising ideas.  The reality is now is the best time to implement these types of strategies!  Implementing strategies like this will not only bring in new customers now it will also propel the growth of the company for years to come.

The following are examples of threats that might me affecting your business right now:

  • As a business owner or sales professional, when competitors move into your area that is a threat.
  • When internet companies focus on your target market or your area, this is a threat.
  • When economic trends change, this could be a threat.  When social trends change like Baby Boomers leaving the workforce and Generation Y moves into the workforce, this could be a threat to you.

I encourage you to be aware of these threats and discover creative ways to react to them.  Remember threats can be looked at as a negative or you can see them for an opportunity to create positive change, the choice is yours.

Reasons and Excuses to Insure Your Business Fails

Last year at I woke up at 4am with my phone ringing and a slight sound of sirens in the background.  My house was smoky and as I ran into the living room ash was flying inside my house through the skylights.  This was the morning of the 2007 San Diego fires.  At the same time thousands of my neighbors were evacuating from their homes in Rancho Bernardo.  This is a day I will never forget!    One of these neighbors was my friend Jay I mentioned earlier this week.

So why am I bringing up the San Diego fires today?   In my last post I used my friend Jay Riordan as an example of a business having a positive perspective in the current marketplace.  Today I thought I would share with you another part of the story.  Jay’s business, Dream Design Builders is doing really well, at the same time Jay’s competitors are downsizing and closing.  Jay’s positive perspective in the current marketplace is incredible but maybe you are thinking to yourself “I am different” or “this is great for Jay but I have had this happen or that happen this year”.

Jay Riordan, Holding a charred photo rescued from the ashes
Jay Riordan, Holding a charred photo rescued from the ashes

So here is the rest of the story…  After the fires went through Rancho Bernardo my neighbors and I started finding ways back to our homes.  I was one of the lucky ones…  My home was standing with no damage, my friend Jay was not so fortunate…  When Jay was able to get near his street he was seeing smoldering homes everywhere including his own home.

The reason why I mention this is for you to think about your reasons or excuses you might be using right now.  Jay had every reason to buy into the negativity of the media.  Jay could have been fully consumed by the emotions of his recent losses.  Jay could have placed all of his attention on rebuilding his home and letting his business suffer.  All of these reasons would have been completely justified!

Next time you think about the reason why you are not succeeding or why your business is not growing at the rate you would like, think about the reasons you are using to justify your story.  Think about the possibility of just changing your thinking.

Think about my friend Jay, who chose to package the emotional charge around losing his home to a fire, into an amazing energy focused on building an even more beautiful home and a thriving business.  Isn’t that better than anything even small bit of negativity might bring you?  The power of how you handle negativity in your life is truly yours.

Follow Up: Lessons to Learn from Obama 08

In the past week there has been a lot of buzz on the presidential election.  Many reporters were trying to figure out when the country started turning to Obama.  Many times reporters would suggest different speeches, interviews, or statements by both Obama and McCain, stating one speech made the difference or this interview really changed things, or McCain’s comment during this interview is when things started shifting.

While some of this is true, I believe Obama became the President Elect for one main reason.  Obama created a tribe of followers and created many ways for his tribe to connect with their leader!  One extreme example of the connection difference between Obama and McCain is online.  Obama’s online presence can be clearly seen by looking at his website and more importantly his hub for Social Media can be found on his blog.  Below is a snapshot of how both Obama and McCain did in regards to a few of the Social Media sites:

Looking at Social Media Sites; According to Forrester Research, Inc.:


Obama: 2,379,102 supporters
McCain: 620,359 supporters
Obama has 380% more supports than McCain


Obama: Friends, 833,161
McCain: Friends, 217,811
Obama has 380% more supporters then McCain


Obama: 1792 videos uploaded since Nov 2006, Subscribers: 114,559 (uploads about 4 a day), Channel Views: 18,413,110
McCain 329 videos uploaded since Feb 2007 (uploads about 2 a day), Subscribers: 28,419, Channel Views 2,032,993
Obama has 403% more subscribers than McCain
Obama has 905% more viewers than McCain


Obama: @barackobama has 112,424 followers
McCain: @JohnMcCain (Not sure If this is real) 4,603 followers
Obama has 240 times more followers in Twitter than McCain

Obama’s activity in Social Media sites includes: Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Flickr, Digg, Twitter, Eventful, Linkedin, BlackPlanet, Faitbase, Eons, Glee, MiGente, MyBatanga, AsianAve, and DNC Partybuilder.  Obama created tribes within all of these social mediums.

You have to look at the last eight years to really see why this had such a huge impact.  According to Forrester Research, Inc., internet usage in the United States has grown 130.9% in the last eight years.  Of the 303,824,646 people in the United States the penetration rate for internet usage is 220,141,969 or 72.5%!

By using social media Obama created a way to communicate and follow up with his tribe.  Seth Godin’s new book Tribes talks a lot about how tribes work and the importance of a leader within the tribe.  Obama was the leader of a huge tribe of followers, fans, and most importantly voters.  Obama’s tribe showed up way before Election Day and when Election Day finally arrived it seemed the entire tribe made it to the polls!

So the question to ask yourself is: Are you doing everything you can to make it easy for your tribe to connect with you?

SWOT Analysis: Exploring Your Opportunities

Last week I talked about weaknesses, following up from my post on SWOT Analysis: Simple Tool to Improve Your Business. If you missed one of these previous posts it may be best to go back and review them in order.

SWOT Analysis: Simple Tool to Improve Your Business
SWOT Analysis: Defining Your Strengths
SWOT Analysis: Acknowledging Your Weaknesses

Today I will review our discussion on Opportunities (the “O” in SWOT) as it applies to my business as well as the 15 other small and mid size companies in the exercise. The discussion on Opportunities was led by Rufino Autus, Independent Financial Planner for Autus Financial Group. Rufino started out the discussion with a brief over view of SWOT Opportunities. Opportunities are things that are external, things that are happening around you which you can capitalize on in the current business climate. The group had the following ideas to think about before our discussion insuring each person was prepared to discuss possible opportunities:

  • Where are the good opportunities facing you?
  • What trends are happening around you that your company can capitalize on?
  • What changes in technology have a positive effect on your business?
  • What changes in industry standards or government policy impact your business?
  • How can changes in social patterns, population profiles, aging consumers, and lifestyles change how you approach new customers?

Rufino then opened it up to the group for discussion asking members to share their discovered opportunities. Here is some of the discussion:

  • Kerry Klindtworth, a realtor with Keller Williams talked about how it’s a buyer’s market. It’s a great market to buy so she has changed her focus to buyers. She still loves taking listings because she is very good at selling homes but her focus is on buyers. Kerry also talked about everyone going green! With this in mind she has become a Certified Energy Specialist in the state of California. This means she can go into your home and provide you with CFL light bulbs for free from SDG&E. When she does a home inspection her appraisers do an energy audit on your home and tell you how to make your home more efficient. Kerry also talked about how one person turns 55 every 30 seconds so she is in the process of getting certified as a Senior Residential Specialist as well as getting her brokers license. We all agreed this was a great example of looking at your current opportunities and taking advantage of them.
  • Tammy Williams, a representative with MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) highlighted one of her opportunities. Right now it’s the end of the fiscal year for most corporations and they are planning their budget for 2009. Now is the time to make contact with these corporations to make sure MADD is part of their budget for 2009.
  • Kraig Stahl, President of K.D. Stahl Construction Group talked about how the construction market has changed. Kraig talked about projects which used to have two or three bidders now have 12 and large building projects are slowing down dramatically. Kraig is focusing on tenant improvements, looking for companies that may be downsizing and need to change walls within an existing building or create new office spaces. Most of Kraig’s business comes from referrals, “not many people just look you up in the yellow pages”, so he is focusing on meeting new referral partners like architects, electrical engineers, and commercial brokers. Angie Swartz, founder of Six Figure Moms Club suggested using the words “we are flexible and agile” so referral sources know you are changing your businesses to adapt to the current market. Tammy added MADD is all about branding and by partnering with MADD you will set yourself apart from your competition. If you are one of those companies competing for the same customer look at ways to partner with non profits as a way to expose your brand.

So what were the opportunities I discovered? Now more than ever building relationships and following up with prospects and customers is the key to any marketing strategy. My opportunities are to help companies and sales professionals improve their relationships, creating connections with prospects who will allow me to review their follow up strategies. Through these meetings I can suggest ways to improve their strategies and help them implement new systems to capture referrals that are currently going to their competitors. So if you are reading this post and want to learn how to double your referrals in the next 90 days maybe your best next step would be simply calling me!

I found the opportunity process very positive. Hearing how the other members viewed their opportunities allowed me to explore deeper into what might be right in front of me but for some reason I was ignoring or just did not see. The power of this SWOT Analysis is amazing and I look forward to sharing the last part of this discussion next week. Our discussion for next week is Threats (the “T” in SWOT).

Creating a Great Customer Experience

Have you ever really thought about why customers decide to buy? What are you doing right when talking to customers? How can you improve on your customer experience to win them over? Let’s look at a general example when it comes to customers calling your business:

A new potential customer may call you inquiring about one of your products. Let’s say you are a new sales representative for the company and are eager to help any new potential customers. You are friendly, respectful, and really do everything you can to help. The customer responds and makes a purchase.
At the same time another potential customer calls inquiring about the same product. A different sales representative interacts with the customer. This seasoned sales representative has already met their sales goals and is excited as the day is ending! While the representative is pleasant, the customer can hear them organizing their desk, moving stacks of paper around, packing their bag, and not really listing to what is being asked. The customer assumes their business is not wanted and the call ends with the customer saying thank you and no sale is made.

What is the real difference in these two examples? It’s really about listening, fully engaging in the conversation you are having, and finding ways to connect with your potential customer. It’s the excitement of really wanting to help the customer which will lead the customer to a purchase.

I have had many experiences just like this. My first interaction with a company is fantastic and I think to myself “wow, this company is great”. My next interaction is a complete disappointment as I don’t receive the same level of service. Creating consistency with the customer experience is not easy but can be achieved.

Whether you are a large company with hundreds of representatives, a small business with a few sales people, or an entrepreneur handling everything on your own here are few tricks to keep the customer experience positive:

  • SMILE – On the phone or in person make sure you smile often! Teach this to your representatives, remind them in sales meetings, smiling changes your tone of voice, this change caries over in person and on the phone. Need to see the study? Check out: Smiles Really Do Boost Sales.
  • STAND UP – If you are on the phone and are feeling off, having a bad day, or just don’t seem to be connecting with your customer standing up will add new energy to the conversation. This works for all types of sales inbound, outbound, or cold calling.
  • REMINDERS – Add a note to your phone or computer screen with a key word. For example if your focus is to enhance the customer experience you might just write “best friend” as a reminder to talk to the potential customer with the same passion you would as if you were talking to a best friend.
  • POSITIVE AFFIRMATIONS – Create a list of 5 or 7 possible positive experiences you would like your potential customers to have. Add the list as a screen saver, background, or just post it where you will see it as a reminder when you are talking to customers.
  • LAST QUESTION – Get into the habit of asking each customer “is there anything more I can help you with today?” It’s a pretty simple question and will add to the customers overall experience. Not mention you may possibly receive more sales my simply asking.
    Remember, creating a positive customer experience allows you to start a long term relationship. As you follow up with the customer the relationship will grow into additional sales and referrals!

I have had many people ask me how I am always so positive or always in such a good mood. I would love to say I am always happy and positive 100% of the time! My intention is to have this be my reality and by using these tricks I come pretty darn close!

SWOT Analysis: Acknowledging Your Weaknesses

Last week I talked about strengths, following up from my post on SWOT Analysis:  Simple Tool to Improve Your Business.  If you missed one of these previous posts it may be best to go back and review them in order.

SWOT Analysis:  Simple Tool to Improve Your Business

SWOT Analysis: Defining Your Strengths

Today I will review our discussion on Weaknesses (the “W” in SWOT) as it applies to my business as well as the 15 other small and mid size companies in the exercise.  The discussion on Weaknesses was led by Alan Underkofler Blogger for Follow Up Success and Consultant on follow-up strategies for your business.  (that’s me!)  I started out the discussion just like the previous week.  A brief description on SWOT, and discussed how are we going to interact as a group, as well as setting some guidelines for the discussion.  I really stressed to everyone not to take the feedback personally but really look at the feedback and decide it it’s you or not you, is the weakness real or not real?  The more real and honest the weakness is the more value you will have with the SWOT Analysis.  The group had the following ideas to think about before our discussion insuring each person was prepared with at least four weaknesses:

  • What could you improve?
  • What should you avoid?
  • What are people in your market likely to see as weaknesses?
  • What factors lose you sales?
  • What would your clients say your weaknesses are?

I then picked a few people in the group to start sharing their weaknesses.  Here is some of the discussion:

  • Rufino Autus, Independent Financial Planner for Autus Financial group listed his weaknesses is as, organization skills, time management, procrastination, prioritizing call backs, and at times when meeting with clients he tends to over educate or give them too much information.  Kerry Klindtwoth, a Realtor with Keller Williams suggested hiring an assistant and committing to a calendar system.  The group also talked about the perceptions we have of Rufino and making sure they are in line with who he is or wants to be.
  • Owen Fabert, Consultant for Pampered Chef listed his weaknesses is as lack of organization, lack of self confidence, uncomfortable in a leadership roles, follow up, easily distracted, and listening.  Paula Sassi, owner of Handwriting Consultants International added “What you perceive of yourself is not how we perceive you” .  The group all agreed Owen is a leader and we could see no self confidence issues.  Angie Swartz, Executive Coach and Blogger for Six Figure Moms Club quoted Howard Schultz Chairman and CEO of Starbucks on the challenge of facing obstacles and doubt while working through something unfamiliar and uncomfortable, “There’s a fine line between self-doubt and self-confidence, and it’s even possible to feel both emotions simultaneously.  Back then, and often enough today, I could  be overwhelmed with insecurities, and at the same time have an abundance of self-assurance and faith.”  Angie points out most people striving for greatness have this same feeling.  It’s not that you are not a leader it’s that you are striving to grow yourself at all times.
  • Ted Pittman, Owner of T.L.E. Promotional Products listed his weaknesses as organization, some limits on capabilities, small size of company, procrastination, awareness of his company in the market.  I added one of the products Ted provides is corporate apparel and suggested he should be wearing logoed apparel to promote his brand and business.  Angie asked about sponsoring events and suggested donating products with his company logo on the products to create more awareness.

With this discussion on weaknesses, I found myself looking at different areas of my life, both business and personal, where all of these weaknesses have come up for me at one time or another.  Time management, clients and potential clients perception of me, talking too fast, and even working too much are all areas I am currently working on.  Listening to the other members of the group really allowed me to identify weaknesses from my past, reflecting on these past weaknesses is a great way to insure they do not show up again.

My last thought on this discussion of weaknesses is no matter what your weakness is you can change it.  If it’s truly a weakness you cannot change the easiest solution is to surround yourself with people that excel in your weakness.  If organization is a weakness for you, hire very organized people.  If time management is a weakness for you, identify your highest priorities and schedule them into your day.  We have solutions to each of our weaknesses, most times right in front of us.  Quoting my friend John Assaraf, founder of One Coach “hire people that play at things you are not good at”.

As we move along in our SWOT Analysis reflect on your newly discovered strengths and weakness.  You can start amplifying your strengths and eliminating your weaknesses anytime.  If you have started making changes in your business from reading about SWOT please share them with us by leaving a comment.

Next week our discussion will be on Opportunities (the “O” in SWOT).

Changing One Family’s Poverty: You Make the Difference!

This post is my contribution to Blog Action Day, joining thousands of other bloggers to write about one topic for a single day. This year’s topic is poverty.

I remember three years ago driving into Mexico for my first Corazon project. I was a member of Rancho Bernardo Sunrise Rotary and we were going into one of the poorest neighborhoods in Tijuana to build a home as one of our Rotary International projects. As we were driving to the site on a dirt road, rocking back and forth from the dips and holes, avoiding random abandoned trash piles and cars, I remember looking around and taking in the environment.

The dirt road, lined with trash, dogs running all over, and in the center a small steady stream of really dirty water I would later find out was the main sewer line for the neighborhood containing everything from runoff to human waste. Riding in the comfort of our cars was a bit surreal. We purchase our cars to drive to and from work, shuttle our kids around, or to keep up with our lifestyle, not really thinking much about it. Here in this neighborhood the cost of most of the cars in our caravan could provide five homes and completely change the lives of five families. The nice homes on this street were stone block or a simple wood design similar to what we were building this day. The average homes were made of old garage doors, wood pallets, and random materials, combined all together turning into some kind of complete structure. The worst of the homes were made of anything they could find, wood, cardboard, plastic sheets, a complete hodgepodge of materials, open and exposed to the environment around them.

When we finally arrived at our site I saw a stack of wood piled high in the center of a just set cement foundation, and a family standing to greet the group of people who were going to build a new home for them. The family is receiving their home through Corazon which has an amazing program where families earn their home by volunteering in their own community.

Our first step is to sort all of the materials so the assigned teams could start their projects of painting, cutting, and building. As the hours pass you start to see walls being formed, and then placed into position. By lunch the roof is framed, plywood is being handed up, and just as this is complete you hear the constant humming of hammers as the shingles are put into place. While this is going on another group is painting inside and out, a small counter for cooking is being tiled, and windows are installed.

It amazing to think about this process of building homes with Corazon, 50 people coming together to build a simple home, most have no construction skills, yet here we are, the day is over, and the home is finished. All of the volunteers gather around as the family has written a letter of gratitude which is now being read to the group. The last and best step to this process is handing the keys to the family for their new home.

Driving back home, slowing with the Tijuana border traffic, in front of me I have a perfect view of downtown San Diego, beautiful skyline, Coronado Bridge, all the city lights, my comfortable life awaits. Behind me, just an hour away from where I live is all this poverty, the poor neighborhood, where we just changed the lives of one family. For me I get that feeling in my gut, in my heart, in my mind, I have so much more to do. It’s not about one family for me one time per year. My path is leading me to many more experiences as I know one person in this world can make the difference to millions. I know I will positively affect the lives of millions of people through humanitarian projects I personally create, fund, or participate in. Projects like this home in Mexico are just one small step on my path, on my journey.

My last thought are for those who are most likely not on the same path as me. Follow Up Success is about attracting clients and increasing your referrals. I write about follow up strategies, marketing, sales, relationship marketing, networking, client retention, and resources for your business. Building homes in Mexico accomplishes many of these topics. It does not have to be homes in Mexico, any type of service projects in and outside of your community will help your business. By pulling clients, customers, and friends together with other people from your community you will forge strong relationships. These relationships will create many opportunities for you and your business. The benefits from helping others are endless! If you have experiences where helping others through service has helped your business, please support this post by making a comment and sharing it with everyone.

SWOT Analysis: Defining Your Strengths

In my last post, SWOT Analysis: Simple Tool to Improve Your Business, I gave an overview of SWOT and talked about a few of the benefits of applying a SWOT Analysis to your businesses or to yourself as a business professional. As I mentioned in my previous post I am part of a small group of business owners and sales professionals who have committed to SWOT exercise for the next four weeks. The format for our SWOT exercise is fairly simple. We meet each week prepared to discuss the current element of SWOT as it pertains to our business or ourselves. We then discuss our findings with the group getting valuable feedback from the other participants in the exercise.  This allows us the ability to further refine our SWOT Analysis.

Today I will review our discussion on Strengths (the “S” in SWOT) as it applies to my business as well as the 15 other small and mid size companies in the exercise. The discussion on Strengths was led by Kerry Klindtworth a realtor with Keller Williams. Kerry started out the discussion with a brief description of SWOT using sites like Mind Tools as references and discussed examples of different strengths from the site. These included the following ideas:

  • What advantages does your company have?
  • What do you do better than anyone else?
  • What unique or lowest-cost resources do you have access to?
  • What do people in your market see as your strengths?
  • What factors mean that you “get the sale?”

Kerry started engaging the participants asking them to share their strengths with group. Once they were complete the group would question, add, and help refine the Strengths of that person. Here is some of the discussion:

  • Paula Sassi, Certified Graphologist and owner of Handwriting Consultants International listed her strengths as; 28 years of experience, knowledgeable, timely response (responding to client requests within 24 hours), very easy to contact, great speaker, and entertainer for special events as well as tradeshows. Kerry added “Paula is an expert in her field”. Rufino Autus, Financial Advisor with Autus Financial Group added “Paula is a straight talker and has a unique business for her market”.
  • Justin Stewart, Customer Service Supervisor with San Diego National Bank listed his strengths as; builds rapport with customers quickly, passionate about what he does, thinks outside of the box to find solutions, privately owned local bank, 11 years in banking, and constantly expanding his banking knowledge. Rufino added “Justin loves what he does”. Jexter Isip, IT Consultant and Principal of Dedicated Network Solutions added “Justin is amazing with followup insuring his customers know he values them”.
  • Cathy Peterson, Insurance Agent with Farmers Insurance listed her strengths as; great followup, vast insurance knowledge, and a personal passion to insure her clients have the right coverage. I added “Cathy not only has great followup, she has great follow thru! Always keeping you up to date with referrals she has received”. Jexter added “Cathy has great communication during and after the process of buying insurance”.

So how did I do in this process? What are the strengths of Alan Underkofler, Blogger for Follow Up Success, Consultant on followup strategies for your business, quickly becoming a go to person in the world of Social Media, Speaker, and soon to be published Author. Like everyone else in the process I took time to really reflect on my strengths in regards to my business. The strengths that I listed were; simple tools, unique solutions, cost effective, ease of implementation, 12 years of marketing experience working with both Fortune 500 companies and brand new at home startups, passion for followup, and enthusiasm to help clients achieve desired results. The group confirmed my strengths and added passion and enthusiasm.

Passion and enthusiasm have been strengths of mine for a long time! Passion and enthusiasm has always propelled me to my next challenge in business. Passion and enthusiasm pushed me to go after clients that everyone said were impossible to get, I was blind and deaf to the reasons they gave me! Passion and enthusiasm pushed me to commit to writing inventory and category management software that was unprecedented in our industry, I was blind to the fact that this was not possible! Passion and enthusiasm is what pushes me now… Right now! Pushing to be a blogger, pushing me to complete my book, pushing me to be a better speaker, pushing me to be a top producer in everything I do! I am blinded by my passion and enthusiasm! For me passion and enthusiasm allows me to be blind to failure and negativity, when you can’t see failure or negativity you can’t fail and you have no choice but to be positive! No choice but to be positive!

Obviously I got a bit more out of this than I ever expected! Hopefully you did too! This last paragraph was not about this post. It was about me and what I needed to hear! So, thank you for being a part of it!  What are your strengths, what inspire your passion and enthusiasm, what propels you to succeed?

Look for next week’s post as we take a closer look at Weaknesses (the “W” in SWOT).

SWOT Analysis: Simple Tool to Improve Your Business

SWOT Analysis is strategic planning method and effective tool to help you understand your Strengths and Weaknesses, and identify the Opportunities and Threats facing your business.  The analysis was created by Albert Humphrey during a research project at Stanford University using data from Fortune 500 companies.  Using SWOT you are looking at the internal and external factors of your business.  Internal factors would be your strengths and weakness while the external factors are the opportunities and threats.  Taking a look at these factors can help you apply your resources and capabilities to your market.

The reason SWOT is so powerful is that in a few hours you can discover opportunities within your business to expand or develop.  Exploring your business weaknesses will allow you to change or eliminate a negative pattern or element of your business you may be unaware of.  As you look at your businesses as well as your competitors using SWOT you will begin to see what sets you apart from your competition and then focusing on these discoveries can give you the competitive edge you are looking for.

SWOT Analysis can be completed by you, with a consultant or coach, with your management team, or with a group of business owners in your network.  The value of bringing others into the discussion is the discovery of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats you may not see on your own.  This should make your analysis more complete and powerful.

The benefit of participating in a SWOT Analysis for small and large business as well as solopreneurs and individuals are dramatic.  Starting next week I will be discussing each element of the SWOT Analysis with a group of small business owners and will share with you what we discover.  The goal is to give you real life examples of how to use SWOT and how it can make a difference in your business.

So you might be asking yourself how does SWOT relate to followup?  Followup will show up as a strength or a weakness for you and your business.  If it’s identified as a strength you might look for ways to improve on what you are already doing.  If followup is identified as a weakness then focusing on followup systems for your business will give you a huge advantage in your market.

Are You A Multitasking Follow Up Extremist?

In an effort to follow up with new contacts and customer requests I often find myself multitasking, I am sure you can relate! Managing multiple projects and tasks is not new to me by any means. As a Sales Professional either in a corporate environment or as a business owner multitasking becomes an art! I find myself always exploring new ways to get more things done!  I tend to create new habits to squeeze just a few more minutes from my day. As with all new habits and processes we create to achieve more, sometimes it’s good to reflect on the cost these new patterns have.

Yesterday I found myself driving down the road talking on my cell phone, answering a text, switching to my email to respond to a request and just for good measure checking in on Twitter! All of this reminded me of a recent email forwarded to me from Harvard Business Publishing regarding texting while driving!

Is texting while driving really worse than driving under the influence?

A recent study by the RAC Foundation based in London found the average reaction times slowed by 35% while writing or reading texts!  Compare this to the 21% slower reaction from those who had taken cannabis and 12% slower among those who had drunk to the legal limit! A January 2007 survey by U.S.-based Nationwide Insurance suggested 19 per cent of motorists said they texted while driving.  I am sure among my network of friends and colleagues this number would increase to well over 50%!  Are you thinking to yourself…  “this is great but I am an amazing multi-tasker!”? Look at this video of Richard Westcott testing the effects of texting while driving using a simulator.

Take a moment and really think about the urge to read or respond to a text while driving.  Is it really worth the cost?  Can it wait until you arrive at your next destination?  I am all about great follow up and have definitely been known to be an extremist but even I am rethinking some of my habits in regards to multitasking.  Having reviewed the study, I think about a few close calls I have had over the last year while driving on the phone and texting, reading emails, and checking twitter.  For you this might be checking the news, sports, stock market, or the weather.  Whichever other activity you are choosing while driving, hopefully this post will allow you to reevaluate the possible cost!

Take a moment and really think about the urge to read or respond to a text while driving.  Is it really worth the cost?  Can it wait until you arrive at your next destination?  I am all about great follow up and have definitely been known to be an extremist but even I am rethinking some of my habits in regards to multitasking.  Having reviewed the study, I think about a few close calls I have had over the last year while driving on the phone and texting, reading emails, and checking twitter.  For you this might be checking the news, sports, stock market, or the weather.  Whichever other activity you are choosing while driving, hopefully this post will allow you to reevaluate the possible cost!