So, the last couple of weeks dealing with fire issues has derailed my series on Annual Plans. I want to restart that at this point. Given that time and the change that it has wrought on the North Bay, I think it is appropriate to restart this series by talking about a SWOT. That is not a SWAT, but a SWOT.
SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. It is a simple tool to define the strategic positioning of any company. Think of a simple x-y chart – converted into 4 boxes. Along the x-axis the left is “Positive” and the right is “Negative”. The y-axis is divided into “Internal” at the top and “External at the bottom. The bottom right box is Threats (Negative, External) as an example.
You then proceed to fill out as many things in each of the boxes as you can. Most people have a pretty good handle on the Internal positives and negatives. The External can be a much bigger challenge. This requires you to think about the changes in the environment that your business operates in. For example, I am now in the environment of the rebuild from the North Bay Fires. This has both challenges and opportunities. Many businesses have turned conservative so it will be harder to land new customers. On the other hand, people need to rethink some of their businesses. So, limited strategic planning services could be a hot ticket. And that is just an example for me.
There is lots of material up on the web about SWOTs. They are not new and are not a miracle. The most important thing is honesty. You have to be up front with yourself about strengths and weaknesses. No person nor any business is perfect. So evaluate your business. Look outside your business and see what is going on. That is the starting point in evaluating the change that you will need for next year.
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