Jean has been a home-based business owner for a number of years. She has gained valuable experience and insight along the way.
What Is SWOT?
S.W.O.T. is a grid containing four squares that represent strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to your one-person home-based business. It helps you identify where you are strong and weak, thus it helps you create an action plan to cover all contingencies. It also gives you hints as to where you need to learn new skills or improve on the ones you have.
The SWOT Grid
Success Is Supposed to Be What Business Is All About
Working from home is fraught with pitfalls and land mines. If you have been out there at an actual job, you know you have to be accountable to someone, and there are other people to fill in the skill gap so everything ticks along in an efficient and successful way. Not so at home, you're it. In order for you to succeed, you have to be focused and driven. But focused on what? Driven to do what?
Discovering the “Business You” and How You Fit Into the Big Business World
The two important aspects that you need to consider are you and your business, and how they can do the business dance in the great sea of businesses worldwide.
Obviously you do not have a storefront business on a main thoroughfare and you may not have a business that brings people into your home. If you do, it is certainly not at the volume a popular storefront would have. So lets assume you do most or all of your business on-line.
There are millions of businesses on line. The best analogy I can think of is you are just one grain of sand on a tropical beach. So how does that affect your strengths and weaknesses and what opportunities and threats does it pose to you?
The S.W.O.T. Grid and How to Use It
List everything you know you are good at
Be brutally honest
Get people you know to tell you what they see you are good at
List areas in your business where you are weak
Get people you know to tell you what they see are your weaknesses.
List all the opportunities you see for your business to grow
List all the things you recognize that could impact your business adversely like your skill set, other businesses, family members, your products, your time, your organizational skills, your finances, your ability to expand your business etc.
List all the opportunities you see for you to learn and grow with your business
Leave nothing out
SWOT is a process that may take you a week or so to get everything down on paper. Look at your strengths every day as you are working in your business. Write them down on your grid. Here are some ideas to consider that may be within your skill set.
disciplined with your time
dealing with phone calls efficiently
creating business plans
and the list goes on
None of us like to admit we have weaknesses, but unless you recognize them and admit they are there, you can be blindsided when too many of them appear all too often in your day-to-day business. Come on, be brutally honest. No one is going to see this list but you, and once you have your weakness list in front of you, strategies will come to mind to help you deal with them. Some of them may look like the list below.
tired all the time
easily distracted on-line
text way too much
can't get motivated
can't seem to get filing done
snack constantly at my desk
my workbench is a mess
I put off what I don't like doing
I don't know enough about Wordpress
my spelling is poor
I lose stuff in the chaos of my workspace
I plan poorly or not at all
not good at budgeting
don't have a sales funnel
don't know how to market myself well
don't have a social media strategy
have unrealistic expectations of my time
socialize too much during business hours
take on way too much
work long hours 7 days a week
and the list goes on
Let's say you have a cupcake business. How can you partner with a car dealership for example, and supply them with cupcakes for a special event? What other businesses can you partner with to bring in more revenue? Can you take a pamphlet of your cupcakes to local churches that conduct weddings, or to wedding dress shops? What other opportunities can you create and what partnerships can you be involved with. Check out the list below for some opportunity ideas.
join your local chamber of commerce
join a women's/men's entrepreneurial group
is your local farmers market an appropriate venue?
If you have handmade items what about Etsy or ArtFire?
Can you start or improve your blog
make a list of everyone who could benefit from your business no matter how possible you think it is
Join local groups and associations that can cross-refer
can you partner with someone in a similar business in another city for mutual support
make a social media strategy plan
post lots of great pictures
take some of your product to the local community newspaper and get them to write a story about you
are there affiliate programs you can join that can complement your business and bring in another stream of income?
Threats to your business can come from inside or outside your business. You can only juggle so many balls in the air before something falls. If you don't have the finger on the pulse of your business at all times, you risk having a crisis. See if any of the following resonates for you.
you have to do everything because of your financial situation
you take on too much
a storefront with similar products or services has opened near you and threatens to take some or all of your market share
the all-consuming social media
you need to upgrade your skills but you think you don't have time
your personal skills package
your digital procrastination
little or no web traffic
poor customer contact
getting caught in money draining SEO scams
being offered advice from family and friends with no business experience
no local suppliers
Knowing Allows You to be Proactive
When you have filled in everything you can think of, and what other well meaning people have told you, it is easier to have contingencies for everything. Business is cut-throat. You need to be aggressive in your efforts and determined in your attitude to grow a successful profitable business. If you are not in it for the money, you should not be poring what you do have down the business toilet. Think carefully how you are going to manage your SWOT team. It is here to help you.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.