Understanding your strengths and shortcomings will help you become stronger in any path in life. A personal trainer will typically use a set of exercises to determine where their client is strong and where they need improvement. When used in a personal context, it will help you develop in ways that best take advantage of your talents and abilities. When used in a business context, this helps you carve a sustainable niche in your market.
The exercise is a simple SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. While this concept may seem too simple, it is actually a vital step in setting your firm’s objectives. With a little brainstorming, you can uncover opportunities and “low-hanging fruit” that you are well-placed to exploit. You will also identify threats and how to eliminate them, along with examining your competitors so that you can create a strategy to distinguish yourself from them.
To get started, you can create a template like the one above with blank spaces in each square to write in your answers.
STRENGTHS: Be sure to consider your strengths from both an internal perspective and from the POV of your customers and your market. Think about your target audience – what makes you the best to them? If you’re having a tough time, circle back to your brand benefits – what do you offer that no one else does?
WEAKNESSES: Again, consider this from both an internal and external perspective. What are your competitors doing better than you? Do people seem to perceive a weakness that you might not see? Be realistic and face any unpleasant truths NOW.
OPPORTUNITIES: What are some interesting trends you are aware of? This would be a good time to employ market research and analyze the current business environment for changes in tech, government policy, social patterns and so on. A useful approach is to look at your strengths and see if those open up any opportunities.
THREATS: Dun, dun, dun! Don’t let this term intimidate you. By identifying threats early, your business will be more successful because you can prepare for them now. Don’t look over any external factors, such as new government regulations, or technological changes in your industry.
As you determine these factors, prune them down and prioritize them so that the most significant are addressed first. After this exercise and your new brand positioning, you will now be able to set objectives for your company and determine strategy. Tune in for my next blog, where I’ll discuss how these options are carried through to later stages in the strategy formation process.