March 2016 Coaches Corner
Most ExpertPreneurs® don't have MBAs.
However, there are a few things taught in business school all business owners can benefit from. Not just those who are looking to create large-scale companies.
You see, when a business owner is looking to tackle a market, they perform what is called a SWOT analysis to see where they stand.
A SWOT Analysis is an assessment of your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. It marries your internal positioning and external positioning to give you the best picture of how to move forward in your business. Giving you clarity about your advantages, illuminating what you should avoid, and bringing forward your strongest possible angle for success.
While ExpertPreneurs® march to the beat of a different drum than mainstream business owners, this process is highly valuable to gaining much needed clarity and focus in your ‘Expert’ business.
To create the template for a SWOT analysis, all you need to do is find a blank sheet of paper and draw a big plus sign on it – one vertical line down the middle, and then a horizontal line crossing it in the middle. Once you've done this you are ready to start.
Today, I'm taking you step by step through the SWOT Analysis process, highlighting just how much each segment can give you much needed clarity, and improve your business.
You'll discover your biggest strengths as an ExpertPreneurs® …
The most important things to avoid if you want to find success…
And how you can stand out from the crowd, earning bigger profits than ever before.
Uncovering Your Strengths
The first segment is highlighting your strengths as an ExpertPreneurs®. This section is typically indicated with an “S” on the upper left quadrant of the template you created.
Strengths are everything you can leverage to make your business successful. This includes your natural strengths as an ExpertPreneurs® – good communicator, naturally friendly and helpful – as well as your skills you've developed – strong writing or eloquent speaking. Along with your life experiences and passions you've gained over the years.
If you've been reading my other articles, you've hopefully come across my discussion about finding your “Money Spot” – where your strengths, skills, chosen niche, market, and passions meet opportunity. Knowing this and embracing it is a huge foundation for your business.
And if you aren't sure where your Money Spot really is, this SWOT Analysis can help you uncover it.
For example, if you are a fitness coach, and you spent your entire childhood learning martial arts, that would be a strength. Even if your fitness program doesn't explicitly incorporate martial arts techniques, it would be wise to include some as a point of differentiation from other fitness coaches.
As a less obvious example, let's say you had a career as an administrative assistant until starting your ExpertPreneurs® business. Well, in that case, you know how to stay organized, create schedules, and keep yourself in check. That is useful for getting things accomplished, and is a strength of yours.
The funny thing about strengths is, often they are the hardest things for us to discover. We tend to sell ourselves short. Yet, rarely do we ever say “I am really good at ________.”
Thankfully, there are plenty of coaches out there who understand this about human nature and want to help out.
A popular company specializing in strengths testing is the Kolbe company. Their Kolbe A Index assessment is designed to measure your “conative strengths.” Essentially, your “natural talents and instinctive method of operation (M.O.) that enables you to be productive.”
Knowing how you intrinsically operate is incredibly valuable. It can help you find clarity in how to approach your business and marketing campaigns and improve your productivity tenfold. I highly recommend giving it a shot. With these insights, you'll find out what you should be spending your time doing, and what you should never do, at all costs.
Once you've compiled your strengths, be sure to write it all down in the “S” sector of your chart.
Which Activities Do You Need To Avoid?
As I said in the previous section, we tend to be very hard on ourselves. So the next segment, “Weaknesses”, often fills up very quickly.
This element belongs on the upper right of your chart. You should indicate it with a big “W”.
Now, the danger here is rattling off things irrelevant to your business. Insulting your own intelligence isn't going to do you any good. You need to assess traits, difficulties or lack of training, skills or talent that could actually hinder your success.
For example, a common weakness among ExpertPreneurs® is a fear of public speaking. This can be very detrimental to your ability to increase your visibility and reputation as an authority in your field.
The good news is, it's a skill you can hone. However, if you find it a hindrance at the time of doing this analysis… write it down.
Continue to come up with weaknesses along those lines for this section. Not having as much experience as others in your field could also be included.
The point is to find things you can work around (instead of trying to improve them) to find success.
If you're having trouble with this, ask around your social circles for help. Now, I understand having your loved ones tell you what's “wrong” with you might sound like a horrific experience. However, if you make it clear you're specifically looking for traits that would impact your business, you can keep the conversation focused.
Often, other people see both strengths and weaknesses in us we don't see ourselves. It can be a very valuable exercise to improve your clarity about yourself as an ExpertPreneurs® .
Again, once you have a solid list, write it all down in the “W” quadrant. You're now finished with the “internal” positioning of the SWOT Analysis! Now it's time to move on to the “external” factors.
What Are Your Biggest Opportunities In Business?
Right below the strength quadrant, on the lower left side, is the “Opportunities” section – indicated by a big “O.”
If you notice, the left side of the chart is positive positioning, with strengths and opportunities. The right side are the “negatives”. In addition to that, the top sections are internal factors, while the bottom section are external factors.
The “O” section is designed to lay out all of the opportunities your business has in your market. This is your chance to uncover the opportunities others don't see.
For example, there is a sea of life coaches out there. However, there might not be as many who focus on a particular demographic, like the elderly. If you have experience working with that market, perhaps in a medical setting or otherwise, that could be a strong opportunity for you.
On the flip side, perhaps you already have found your niche market. An opportunity for you could be a partnership with another ExpertPreneurs® that complements your business perfectly, and provides a way to provide more value and make your business perform even better.
Say you're a business coach helping your clients focus on what they do best, and delegating the rest. In that case, essentially any ExpertPreneurs® selling “done for you” systems would be a good pairing. I personally know an ExpertPreneurs® in the financial field whose programs serve as perfect upsells or offers for other business coaches.
The point is, you need to take a look at both your direct and indirect competition to see where there are holes for you to gain ground and earn more profits. And write all of those possibilities down under Opportunities.
Your Biggest External Obstacles
The final segment, on the lower right-hand side of the chart, is “Threats” – indicated by a big “T.”
Threats are exactly what they sound like – anything that could pose a threat to your success. This encompasses a large number of external factors.
Much like with opportunities, you need to research your direct competition and indirect competition to see what is working for them and what isn't. Perhaps someone else has created a product much like yours and could take away from your clientele. Or maybe there's an obvious turn against products like yours, where you may need to rethink the direction of your business.
Another issue to address is keeping up with trends in your industry as well as the news. You don't know when something huge is going to come along and change the playing field. Recognizing that possibility in advance, will put you way ahead of your competition.
A rather extreme example of this phenomenon is what Napster and the inventor of the MP3 file format did to the CD market. Remember when everyone used to buy compact discs for their music? Napster came along with digital files – MP3s – and eventually sent the CD market reeling.
This can happen in any market. And it usually isn't quite so apparent, until it's too late.
You have to be open to any possibility of change in your market. And the threats section is the perfect place to compile those factors. It's a matter of figuring out what or whom are your biggest external obstacles, and if the market is becoming more sophisticated or consuming products differently.
It can be a little scary to lay it all out like that, but I promise it's worth it. The Expertpreneur® who continues to do the same thing regardless of what is happening around them is the Expertpreneur® who eventually goes out of business.
Discover Your Unique Possibilities
As you can imagine, once all of the elements of your SWOT Analysis are in place, you will have a vivid image of the state of your business. You will be able to see the best course of action to take and how you can move forward to earn more profits.
You'll also know what to be wary of and what you should avoid.
Putting all of this intelligence on paper and continually updating it will give you an advantage over your competition. Not many Expert business owners have such clarity in their business. The focus a SWOT analysis brings can be the key to success you've been looking for.
So, take the time to do a SWOT Analysis for your business this week. Don't be afraid to dig deep and figure out every little thing that applies. Doing so will improve your business, enable you to help many more people, earn you more profits, and bring you much closer to achieving your dreams.