Vendor Newsletters | September 2010
It’s survival of the fittest in the business world. Not that it’s different than it’s always been, but perhaps this year has been more difficult. In the first three quarters of 2010, many companies have been operating “leaner and meaner” than ever before and some have struggled for moderate success in a sliding economy.
Does this sound familiar to you? We hope not—we hope you are the ones driving the economy forward! But if it does sound familiar, you are probably wondering what the future holds. What might things be like in 2011?
Unfortunately, we don’t have any oracles or fortune tellers on our payroll (though sometimes we wish we did!). But, what we can tell you is that the fourth quarter of the year is the perfect time to begin planning ahead. While you can’t control what the economy will do, you can take this opportunity to thoroughly examine your business. What makes your business a standout? Are there areas where improvements could be made?
An effective way to answer these questions is by conducting a SWOT analysis. No, we are not talking about the special police forces who belay through windows clad in camouflage and ballistic shields...that’s a SWAT team. After a SWAT team finishes a job, what remains is a shambles—broken glass, kicked in doors and bullet shells scattered across the floor. Yikes! A SWOT analysis, on the other hand, should have a much more pleasing effect on your business. Think of it as a fresh coat of paint on your business plan.
This concept goes back to Marketing 101 (we hope you were paying attention that day). It is an analysis of your business’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Let’s take a look at how this is done:
Strengths: What attributes have contributed to the success of your business? What do you do best?
Example: Maybe you have a staff that will bend over backwards to make customers happy. This has created customers who are so loyal that they would never even think about doing business with one of your competitors. Whatever your strength is, make sure to continue to cultivate it.
Weakness: Where does your business fall short? What attributes of your company are keeping your business from being as successful as it could be?
Example: The files on your computer are so well catalogued that you could find anything in a matter of seconds. Sounds like a strength, right? But what if something unthinkable happens? Imagine you come in to work, pour a cup of coffee and sit down at your computer, only to be greeted by the blue screen of death. But that’s OK, because you have everything backed up...you do, right?
What your business can do in situations like this is critical. Are you able to pick up where you left off and move forward? Or is such a blow to your business completely crippling? Although no one likes to imagine the worst case scenario, doing so ahead of time can minimize the damage later.
Opportunities: Are there any opportunities for your business to grow in your industry? Or to grow in another industry or vertical market?
Example: Did a firm in your industry recently go out of business? If so, those former clients may be looking for a replacement. What can you do to make them your clients? Be sure they know about that loyal staff that will undoubtedly take care of their every need. Do you regularly communicate with existing and prospective customers? If not, now may be a good time to start.