When you first started your business, you wanted it to be successful, after all businesses want to be successful and make profit. During normal times businesses still face challenges. This is now more evident during a world pandemic than ever before. Although no one expected the Covid-19 world pandemic that brought businesses to screeching halt, there are things businesses can do to set them up for success.
Businesses should conduct an S.W.O.T. Analysis (Strength, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats) and then revisit and evaluate it each year. Your individual business S.W.O.T. Analysis can be your road map to developing business strategies for success.
No one knows your business better than you and your team. So gather your brightest people together to brainstorm your organization, what you do well and not so well. Your business strengths are what set your business apart from your competition. What are your resources? What does your team bring that other companies don’t have? How are your products or services unique or different from the competition? You think your company is great, but how does the competition see you? What are you doing to maintain your lead?
Salaries can account for a majority of a company’s expenses. As often the case, your employees can also be your greatest asset or your biggest financial liability. Do you have high employee turnover? If you do, then you must identify why? Do you have a diverse team? Diverse teams often are the most innovative. Is your team happy and satisfied? Do they feel valued? Are their ideas and input considered? You hired them because you saw something in them in the first place. How you develope and motivate your team matters. Not everyone is driven by money and pay. Employee satisfaction is often a major factor in employee motivation and achievement and will go a long way in employee loyalty.
Unlike accessing your strengths, identifying and facing your organization’s weaknesses can be unpleasant. However, it is important to be brutally honest. This analysis is only valuable to your organization if you identify what you can improve upon. Consider all aspects of your organization starting with your staff. Think about how you can improve your team, training programs, policies and procedures and any systems in place. Are you using all available technology? What about different marketing channels? Are you innovating quickly enough?
Next consider your financials. Do you have enough capital in reserves? Just like experts recommend everyone have at least 3 months in savings, companies should have reserves in the event of unexpected business loss. Although no one expected a world pandemic, other emergencies happen. What about weather related closures such as a hurricane or a snow storm? Or what about a work force strike? By having several months in reserves can make the difference of staying in business or going out of business. Are there areas you can cut costs without sacrifices? If so, trim away.
What about your customers and competition? Don’t forget about them in this assessment. Maybe you need to conduct some customer satisfaction surveys to see how your customers see you. What is your churn rate? The cost of acquiring new customers is costly, so you need to keep the ones you have and the best way to make sure they are satisfied.
What about your competition? Imagine how the see you: What weaknesses do they perceive? What ways can they capitalize on them? This is your opportunity to prevent that! How is your competition doing? What are they doing that you’re not? What can your organization do better?
Don’t be afraid to hear hard truths about your organization. Only when you know where your weaknesses lie, can you implement ways to make improvements and ultimately make your organization better.
As you can see your Strengths and Weaknesses are a deep dive internal look at your organization. Identifying Opportunities and Threats are often a look outside your organization. Have you or anyone in your organization ever said “Why didn’t we do that?” If so, then that was a missed opportunity. Opportunities can exist anywhere, new market trends or developments, new technology that can cut time and save money. Even changes in local and federal government policy and how it relates to your field can open up opportunities.
Opportunities come in all sizes; even small opportunities scaled up can increase your competitiveness or save you money that can be put back in to research and development. People are mobile so be sure to watch for population profiles, lifestyles trends and patterns in society. Companies who are able to quickly pivot and adapt to changing economic environments are more likely to succeed. Consider companies during this Covid-19 crisis that have been able to innovate and adapt to a new normal. The self-storage industry has been able to quickly pivot during Covid-19 by offering touchless reservations and move-ins allowing them to continue operations safely for customers and their staff. Many restaurants have been able to survive by offering meal kits of their most popular menu items for customers to prepare at home. Being able to be quickly innovating and implement changes offers companies a better chance of surviving and thriving.
Opportunities are often everywhere, but then again so are threats to your business. Anything that can negatively impact your business is a threat, so be alert! How would your company be impacted if there were changes in your supply chain or shortages in raw materials? What about shifts in market or product requirements and standards? What about local and government regulations? Certain changes can make your product or service obsolete. It is imperative to not only be alert but to anticipate threats and have a plan of action in case.
Technology can be both an opportunity and a threat. Consider the impact streaming services had on the movie rental business. Just as you should take advantage of technology innovation where it benefits your business, you should also be aware of evolving trends and adapt your business to those new challenges.
Remember product life cycle, are you developing new products in our ever changing market to be ready when one product dies? What is your competition doing that can stall your business? How can you improve upon what you’re doing to stay ahead of the competition?
Prior to the pandemic, unemployment was at an all-time low. How did this impact your recruitment and hiring efforts? Some companies faced challenges hiring and retaining staff as wages became more competitive. Higher wages are also a threat to your financial bottom line and can be negatively impacted if you have cash-flow or high bad debt issues.
Even though this pandemic is a once in a life-time event, by taking the time to do a thorough S.W.O.T. Analysis then acting upon the findings, your business will be better prepared to adapt in an ever changing world.
By: Lee Preston
Lee is the Director of Marketing and Promotion for EZstorit.com. When she is not working with our storage facilities partners, she is writing about topics that affect our daily lives.