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).

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).