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Where have you been? And where are you going?

by Hannah Stiff | Jan 27, 2020 4:43:02 PM

It’s nearly February. Which may be obvious. But here’s
something that might not be. Did you know that nearly 80% of New Year’s
resolutions fail by February? That’s according to U.S. News & World Report.
If you’re in that 80%, you could say you’re in good company to feel bad.
Perhaps you set unrealistic goals. Perhaps life got in the way. Perhaps you
decided you’ve tried at this goal and failed before; this time will be no
different. Or perhaps, you just got so darn busy, you forgot.

But here’s something else you know (you might just need a
little reminding) – there is nothing inherently magical about January 1. Yes,
it marks the start of a new year. And sometimes even a new decade, or century.
Yet when the clock strikes midnight on December 31, you aren’t suddenly
bestowed with newfound superpowers to help you tackle your to-do list. When you
flip to that fresh calendar page, you don’t get a starter pack of motivation
and caffeine (though we all should get that, is there a subscription service
for that?). Which means that if you’ve already made and broken a
resolution, there’s still hope.

And there are tools.

It’s hard to know what goals to set when you don’t know
where you’ve been. Day in and day out, I hear from business owners who wear
many, many hats. They tell me they’re so busy running a business, they don’t
have time to take stock of the victories, the failures, and the opportunities
for the future. Yet, those same business owners want to grow their victories,
reduce failures, and be ready for new opportunities. So, and this is truly
important, I urge them to step away from running the business for just a few
moments and make time to evaluate growing their business into the future.

To structure and make the most of that “stepping away” time,
I offer the SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses,
Opportunities, Threats. It’s important to fill out each category for your
business because they all impact your bottom life.

So, pull up a comfy chair, grab your favorite pen and a few
pieces of paper (or your laptop, if you’re hip like that), we’re going to SWOT
it out.

Let’s get to evaluating:

STRENGTHS Your strengths are an integral part of your
business. With this first step, think about what makes your business “tick.”
What do you do well; better than anyone else? What values drive your business?

WEAKNESSES This one is tough, but it’s important to be
honest. What are some features of your business that you can improve upon or
avoid? What and where are your limitations? Is it your personnel, your product,
your region, your perspective?

OPPORTUNITIES These are openings or chances for positive
change or growth. New territories, new products, new ways to sell existing
products to a different market, etc. etc. Recognizing opportunities in advance
can help your business to grow and take a lead over your competition. There is
no opportunity too small.

THREATS Like the villain in a movie, nobody really likes a
threat. It’s important to recognize what can negatively affect your business
from the outside. Is it competition? A business that can revolutionize your
offering making your business obsolete or less attractive? If you can
successfully anticipate potential threats, you can build contingencies to
counteract them before you and your business fall victim.

Once you’ve filled in each category, you may be tempted to
tackle each “weakness”, vanquish each “threat”, run after every opportunity and
grow your strong biz muscles even stronger. Easy does it.

This excitement is great, but you need a plan. As the old
proverb (or fortune cookie?) says: “An idea without a plan is just a dream.”

Prune and prioritize your SWOT ideas so you can focus time
and money on the most significant factors. Remember, you don’t have to make all
these changes alone or at once. Automate what you can (it’ll save so much
time). Delegate what you hate doing, or you’re awful at. And eliminate the
waste (trust me, you have some).

By creating a plan like this, you’re establishing an
actionable strategy for 2020, and it’s never too late to do that. Refer to your
SWOT plan frequently (after all, you carved time out of your busy schedule to
create it) and make it a recurring part of your planning and growth.

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