How To Do A SWOT Analysis Of Your Business
I have worked in retail for 15 years now in a whole range of roles, from grappling with the chaos that is the Next sale, to jewellery design; and from multiple retailer buying to trend forecasting for wholesalers. Each role has added a new dimension and facet to my retail knowledge, but nothing has done that to a greater extent than setting up and running my own business. Not only have I learnt a whole host more about retailing over the last four years, but I have also garnered knowledge in accounting and bookkeeping, website development and design, marketing and PR, and the role that all buyers dread, merchandising! Obviously merching one store is far easier than 100, but the same peaks and troughs across the year still apply which have to be married up to lead times, minimum order quantities and budget. As there are so many factors and roles to consider when you run a small business, it’s essential to have a plan, even if you end up changing it.
As we approach the summer holidays, it’s a great time to step back from your business and assess how you and it are developing. If you made plans at the beginning of the year, make time to review them and see if you are on track, if not, put some actions in place to make those plans a reality in the near future.
Another great way to keep your business moving in the right direction, is to perform a SWOT analysis. Sounds painful, I hear you cry! But fear not! It’s a really simple business tool to help you objectively look at your business from all sides, and it shouldn’t take more than an hour of your time, in fact even 20 minutes will give you a pretty good idea of what to focus on next. SWOT is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.
How to do a SWOT Analysis
I find the easiest way is to divide a piece of A4 paper into 4 rectangles like below, so you can easily jot down ideas and see how points relate to each other.
Things to think about:-
To get started, here are some points to mull over:
- Is there anything missing from the products or services you offer?
- Are your prices competitive and do you have a good range of price points?
- Do your prices make sense and offer value for money?
- It’s worth spending a bit of time thinking about businesses in your field and comparing your offering
- How is your customer service?
- Is your brand clear?
- Are you happy with your shop or website? What do you love about it and what could you do better?
- How is your time management, systems and organisation?
What to focus on for each section:-
- What is your USP (unique selling point)?
- What skills do you personally bring to the business?
- Are there elements of the business you struggle with?
- Is there a product that’s not selling? Try to work out why e.g. price, images, SEO, is there a market for it
- Think about national holidays, anniversaries etc that could be an opportunity for marketing or range building.
- Could you offer a special package for different segments of your customer base?
- Could you do a course or skills share to help overcome weaknesses in your business?
- Socio-political climate?
- Larger businesses?
- Supplier lead times?
Don’t feel disheartened if you have quite a few weaknesses and threats. Being able to identify them is a massive step to each of those points becoming an opportunity. What’s done is done, use this tool to turn passed or current issues to your advantage in the future. If you struggle with time, or can’t get your head around a particular role in your business, ask for help. Use online groups to ask questions and find support. You may even find it’s worth paying someone to perform that role for you as it frees up your time to focus on your strengths.
Use your strengths to create an action plan to make your opportunities into reality. Identify ‘quick wins’ or things you can turn around quickly and prioritise these over longer term goals.
SWOTs are a great tool to use when your stuck in a rut, need fresh ideas or just need to step back from the day to day. To take this to the next level, ask someone outside of your business to do a SWOT for you with constructive points and ideas that you could take forwards.
This is the 1st in my series of business tips blogs, sharing my knowledge and know how for small businesses. If you want to talk to me about putting together a SWOT analysis for your business with action points, please do get in touch here to talk about packages to suit your budget.