This could be the best team exercise you’ve ever done; unless you’ve done some team building exercises on an obstacle course, or at a horse ranch.
For the small business person, a SWOT exercise is like creating a strategic plan. A strategic plan you say? That is for the big world of corporate America. But I say no. EVERY company needs a strategic plan. It is really about short and long-range goals, and what we will need to do more of, less of, and new things to keep us competitive and relevant in the marketplace.
SWOT is a deep review of your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. There are 23,600,000 results in Google for SWOT. Does that kind of response, from mother Google, make this an important tactic in your business? I say yes.
This exercise could be one of the greatest gifts you give your business this year. I’ll explain how big results come from doing a SWOT on your business.
- This is not an exercise you do by yourself.
- This is a team exercise; everyone who works for the business. (Assemble that team.)
- As the owner of the business, you should not lead the exercise. Your people will contribute more if you are sitting in the back of the room and not saying a word.
- If not you, then who leads the exercise? Find a friend or fellow businessman who can be the SWOT leader and write down on the white board or flip chart the contributions from your team. It is best that your SWOT leader understands business in general or even your business. It could be your accountant, a mentor, an advisor, or even a fellow shop owner.
- The leader asks the team to define their Strengths and then their Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. In some cases, you may have a strength that is also a weakness and a weakness that can be an opportunity. Once your team narrows down what they know to be the company’s strengths, it gets easier from there.
- The facilitator goes through each section and may even challenge your team to help crystalize the point being made. Your facilitator makes it fun and will keep the energy in the room at a high level.
If you have ever wanted your team’s perspective on your company, the marketplace, and the industry, this is the best exercise you can do. You will learn a lot about your team, your company and the road ahead.
I recommend doing this on a flip chart, one page for each element of SWOT. (If you do it on a white board take pictures of the results). Why use a flip chart? I want you to post them in your office and create a ‘war room.’ You’ve now got a perfect picture staring you in the eye on what you need to build upon: your strengths, what you need to sustain and constantly improve; your weaknesses, or what you need to fix; the exciting new potential opportunities that could push your business into new markets; and, your threats, things that could derail your business if you don’t prepare. Talk about a strategic plan, and it came from YOUR people! It’s simple, easy, and engaging and should be done on a yearly basis.
When your team feels that their input matters and they are part of the business, magic happens. And when you are ready to implement the improvements and changes that flowed from the SWOT, they’ll be on board ready to participate because they own a piece of the rock.
Carm Capriotto, AAP
Host, Remarkable Results Radio Podcast
The Aftermarkets Audio Book Library
A related post: The Extreme Value in Doing a SWOT On Your Business
Also find a link to a SWOT overview on the above link.