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: 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.