Does Your Strategy Suck? – Why SWOT is a Micro Business’s Best Friend

Who can tell you the truth like your best friend? A best friend tells you like it is. Even when you don’t want to hear it.

That’s what a SWOT is. It’s like your best friend telling you that your current strategy sucks. It lets you know where your true skills are. It also uncovers any weaknesses you’d like to deny.

And denial can be a dangerous place to be in the business world. But the good news is a SWOT can be your road map to success. As cliché as that sounds.

Perhaps you learned about SWOT Analysis in Business 101. Or perhaps you’ve never heard of it before. Either way, it’s the easiest strategic planning tool that will give you an in-depth understand of your current business environment.
<h3>What’s a SWOT?</h3>
If you’re a micro business owner, here are four question you can ask yourself:
<p style=”padding-left: 30px;”>What are your strengths?<a href=”http://microbusinessessentials.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/swot.jpg”><img class=”size-medium wp-image-253 alignright” alt=”swot” src=”http://microbusinessessentials.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/swot-300×197.jpg” width=”300″ height=”197″ /></a></p>
<p style=”padding-left: 30px;”>What are your weaknesses?</p>
<p style=”padding-left: 30px;”>What opportunities are open to you?</p>
<p style=”padding-left: 30px;”>What threats are you facing?</p>
A SWOT Analysis is a useful technique for understanding your <strong>Strengths</strong> and <strong>Weaknesses</strong>, and for identifying both the <strong>Opportunities</strong> open to you and the <strong>Threats</strong> you face.  It highlights your business environment both internally (strengths &amp; weaknesses) and externally (opportunities &amp; threats).

Easy right?
<h3>How a SWOT Will Help You</h3>
The best thing about a SWOT is it shows you how to answer your biggest challenges.

Here’s an example. Let’s say your a landscaper. You specialize in custom designed decorative gardens, and it’s your biggest strength. You’re customer services is outstanding and you focus on building long-term relationships with your clients.  Your biggest weakness is your a small operation, and you don’t have the equipment that larger landscaping firms have.

After a SWOT analysis, you see the connection between leveraging your strengths against your weaknesses. You understand your strategy should focus on your design skills &amp; relationship building, which is something your competitors don’t have.

You can also defend against your biggest threats by understanding your strengths and opportunities. The point is to see the connections. It’s not a difficult exercise, and it seems simple. But it can truly give you some insights you had not thought of before.
<h3>SWOT Analysis Resources</h3>
How to perform a SWOT Analysis is more involved that I can explain in a simple blog post.  So I’m providing a few tools that will teach you how to do it, plus give you a template you can download.
<p style=”padding-left: 30px;”>Mind Tools article: <a href=”http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTMC_05.htm”>SWOT Analysis: Discover New Opportunities. Manage and Eliminate Threats.</a></p>
<p style=”padding-left: 30px;”>Mind Tools Template: <a href=”http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/worksheets/SWOTAnalysisWorksheet.pdf”>SWOT Analysis Worksheet</a></p>
<p style=”padding-left: 30px;”>Video (not made specifically for micro’s but great explanation): <a href=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GNXYI10Po6A”>SWOT Analysis: How to perform one for your organization</a></p>
<p style=”padding-left: 30px;”>SWOT Map (app for iPad): <a href=”https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/swot-map/id669776923?mt=8″>SWOT MAP</a></p>
<p style=”padding-left: 30px;”><em>note</em>: I haven’t used any SWOT apps, but I have heard decent things about them</p>

<h3>Creating a Strategy that Doesn’t Suck</h3>
There are literally hundreds of business strategies out there. SWOT is probably the easiest strategic planning tool you will ever use. You don’t need a degree, you just need to sit down and do the work.

A SWOT will help you see what’s really going on in your business. Both internally and externally. It really can be your best friend.
<h3>Here’s Where You Come In</h3>
Ever used a SWOT analysis in your micro business?

Ever uncovered a great opportunity you would have missed?

Any other strategic planning tool that you believe is better than SWOT?

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