When this article publishes another Christmas will have passed and another New Year begun. Some businesses will have done well during this holiday shopping season while others may have struggled. Regardless of how your business did it’s never been more important to develop a strategic plan for how your business will operate during the next 12-18 months. It’s important because projections are that the overall economy may not begin to improve until the end of 2009 or the beginning of 2010. If it improves sooner great; if it doesn’t how will that affect your business?
To assess what affect market conditions will have on your business consider doing a SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Strengths and weaknesses reflect internal factors while opportunities and threats reflect external factors.
Strengths: Assessing the strengths of your business includes developing or reviewing your strategic plan. Part of the value of developing a strategic plan is it helps to develop a strategy for your business. As Verne Harnish notes in his book, The Rockefeller Habits, a real strategy must pass two tests: 1) what you are doing must matter to your existing and potential customers and 2) what you do must be different from your competition.
Weaknesses: If your sales during the holiday season were not what you anticipated now’s the time to explore why. Did you lack marketing expertise? Were your products or services undifferentiated in relation to your competitor’s? Assessing weaknesses should also include how other internal factors may affect your store or company’s performance during the next 18 months.
Opportunities: If you’re concerned about how your business will perform during 2009 consider developing a different marketing campaign. Are there strategic partnerships and alliances that you could form that would strengthen your business and increase your profits? Are there new markets, including international destinations that will purchase your product or service? Can you take advantage of a competitor who has left the market?
Threats: If the economy does not begin to improve for 18 months exactly how will it affect your business? Is your business subject to price wars among competitors? Do you have a competitor who is offering a new or innovative service or product? How will the new administration affect your business?
These are a few of the questions involved in a SWOT analysis. The value of doing a SWOT review is that it involves assessing both internal and external factors that could affect your business. For more information about conducting a SWOT analysis and how it can improve your business do a Google search. Or call me. I’d be happy to further explore options for strengthening your business despite a struggling economy.
Author: JC Cancelleri is a business strategist and consultant. JC’s value as a business professional is augmented by being a lawyer, life coach and by having a PhD in Organizational Leadership.
Torus Law, PLC