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Today we have a guest post from Chris Mason, Founder – Mindshop. Mindshop has a unique way of conducting a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis. The starting point of this process is to identify your strengths and opportunities. You then ask the key question, “How can I use these strengths to commercialize these opportunities?”

I have used this part-process on a hypothetical manufacturing firm.

The strengths and opportunities identified from the review are as follows:

· A large number of reasonably sized customers who like and trust us
· Owners and managers who know the customers and their needs well
· There are good skills in the production and service area
· The firm has a wealth of relevant experience in our industry

· Several of the customers need to exit their business within 5 years
· Some of our customers who sourced products from China now regret it
· Some customers are having difficulty in growing their business
· We have some great product ideas
By reviewing the strengths and asking the quesiton “how they can be used to leverage the opportunities?” the following ideas emerge:
· Why not develop a product that solves a customer problem, helps them grow, and we sell more to existing customers?
· We should “hunt in packs” with those who know the customer teaming up with those more confident in selling
· Our website needs to reflect that we are good at creating innovation and success for our customers
· We need to contact our best customers at least monthly and do it on a structured basis
· Why don’t we have some teams working on pulling waste out of our production processes?
· We need to train our people in profit improvement and growth creation
· We need to spend at least 25% of our time out of the office talking to customers about their needs and aspirations. You never know we may better understand our customer’s issues and needs.
· Our ability to close the sale needs improvement, why not coach all our key people in how to do this in a professional manner?

These are just some of the ideas for using your strengths to commercialize your opportunities. There are many others here.

Why wouldn’t you try this process on your own business for a three month period, with a monthly review of what you have achieved, what you have learned, and what you need to do differently in the following month? You can only fail if you stop trying.

If you have any questions, please contact me: jim (at) accountplus (dot) ie