Business Growth – Analyse to Capitalise
Knowledge is the key to any successful business and the more knowledge you can gather about your own business, about your competitors or about the wider business community, the stronger the position you will be in to adapt to changing business environments and to grow in line with your future business goals.
One of the simplest and most powerful tools you can use to make a good assessment of your business and your market is SWOT analysis. The method of comparing and assessing your businesses Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats has been around for many years but it remains a tried and tested method of being able to establish a clear picture of how well your business is running in itself, and the wider business environment you are operating in.
SWOT analysis can be broken down into two distinct areas:
1) Strengths & Weaknesses (internal (or business) analysis)
You will be able to gauge your company’s strengths and weaknesses by talking to employees on the ground who can tell you what they like about the company (and their job) and what they don’t – listen in, they may even be able to give you some ideas and suggestions for changes to improve processes, save time or money and like we’ve said before, a happy workforce is also an engaged workforce!
Be sure to cover all the key areas of your business at least – finance, human resources, sales, marketing and production.
In addition to talking to employees, your customers, suppliers and business partners should also be invited to give feedback on your performance. They are the ones best placed to tell you how your actions affect them and the decisions they make about dealing with you.
Don’t be afraid of asking for opinions and the results that this may give, you want to improve and futureproof your business, right? An honest appraisal may bring up some surprising comments and challenges but by doing so you will have a firm guide for the action you need to take to strengthen your business further.
It is perhaps easier and more useful to compare your strengths and weaknesses against your competitors too – in which areas do you perform better or worse than them and what gives each of your businesses its competitive edge?
2) Opportunities & Threats (external (or market) analysis)
Your employees, customers, suppliers and business partners will also be able to give insight into both the opportunities and threats facing your business.
In the case of suppliers and other business partners, understanding more about how they operate and how their business intends to develop and grow in the future not only has an impact on your business now but also how their plans and actions may affect how you trade with them and others in the future.
Where customers are concerned, understanding their buying habits, what affects their purchasing decisions and market trends will give you an opportunity to identify whether you need to adapt or grow your business in the short, medium and long term.
Part of assessing the wider business environment should include; considering whether there are new laws or regulations that will necessitate a change in the way your business operates in future; whether there are economic factors that affect your business such as changes in demand or external pricing; whether your business be affected through social, cultural or ethical changes and whether you have the right technology in place now to support your business going forward.
You should be prepared that carrying out SWOT analysis will inevitably bring criticism from some quarters and you must be willing to accept and digest this in order to get a realistic view on how your business is perceived and how you can move it forward.
What is also true is that no SWOT analysis will be effective for your business health and future growth unless you formulate an action plan to address its findings. Putting in place strategies to lessen or improve the weaknesses and threats, and actions that build on the strengths and opportunities, will give you the foundation on which to take your business to the next level.
Thorough analysis of both internal and external factors and identifying where your business is in its current form, you can formulate an effective marketing strategy which will further protect your business against external threats.