Business Management

SWOT: Analyze Your Business

SWOT means you should ask yourself: What are your Strengths, Weaknesses, Oppportunities, and Threats?

I held a “networking summit” at a trade show recently and guided my guests through an exercise known in the business world as a “SWOT Analysis.” SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. The idea is to analyze your business for areas of improvement, to forecast important changes down the horizon, and ultimately, develop a framework for improvement.

Start with a big piece of black paper and just start making a list. Under “strengths,” list any attributes, features, and ideas that make your business strong, unique, or special. Under “weaknesses,” list things that hold you back from reaching your potential. If your business is not growing, your salon is not always clean, or you haven’t raised your prices in years, write all of that down as well.

Now comes the fun part. What are the “opportunities” you see in your business and in yourself? Are there new product systems you could learn and develop a clientele for? Is the trend toward natural systems and lower maintenance nail care an opportunity you can take advantage of? When the list is complete, go through the opportunities list, prioritize those you can quickly take advantage of, and set to work on them.

Now the “threats.” What factors threaten your business? Threats come in a variety of guises: an on-the-job injury, another salon opening nearby, customers giving up on professional nail care and doing it themselves (and not buying their supplies from you).

Now you have your list. What’s usually evident when you’re done is that the list of threats is really a list of opportunities, and the weaknesses simply point out what can quickly become strengths. If unsanitary salons turn off customers to professional nail care, for example, can salons that make a mission of sanitation and safety earn back those customers and rehabilitate the industry’s reputation? I think so.

The rest of this exercise is to put the weaknesses in order: starting with the ones that need fixing first. Then devise a plan to fix those weaknesses and give yourself a deadline to do so. Do the same things with the threats.

When you know you own strengths and weaknesses you are better able to focus on the real opportunities and threats, and you’ll see how much is within your own control.

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