Kelli Wise is the Head Honcho at Pint Sized Sites, where she’s on a mission to provide affordable, attractive, professional websites for new and very small businesses.
Deep thinking about your business is no joke. It requires a good chunk of time, focus, and dedication. It’s also what separates the wanna-be’s from the success stories. Dedicated business owners do the work. They do the deep thinking and planning that leads to business growth.
Kelli Wise of Pint Sized Sites is my shero of deep thinking and analysis. She’s great at taking a good look at a business, stripping away the BS and getting real. Thankfully, Kelli letting us share her techniques and we used my (Allissa’s) new collaborative wellness center as an example. Double score!
In our “Creating a Business Plan for Your Massage Practice” webcast last week, we talked about the importance of thinking through your current business situation, before jumping into plans for the future.
The best way to do this is with a SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for:
The SWOT Analysis is a technique used by all sorts of businesses big and small, and it’s effective. It seems best to do it in 3 phases.
- Strengths and Weaknesses
- Opportunities and Threats
- Combine all 4 lists and develop a strategy based on them.
While you may not realize it, you are doing a SWOT analysis every time you make a big decision. You’re just doing it in your head.
Brainstorming your strengths and weaknesses
Print out our SWOT cheat sheet here (or just grab a piece of paper and make your own) and get ready to rumble.
Get a cup of coffee or herbal tea or maybe a nice riesling, libation preferences have no impact on the results, and clear your mind. Take a deep breath, and relax. You’re about to get really honest with yourself.
Now, without censoring yourself, start writing down everything about yourself that you think is a strength on the side of the paper labeled “Strengths”. If a weakness comes to mind, write it down on the other side.
Do not stop to think about anything you’re writing. Brainstorming is best done as a stream of consciousness exercise.
You’ll know when to stop because you’ll have to start wracking your brain for new list items. You’ll have a lot of strengths listed and a few weaknesses. Stop and take a drink of your favorite beverage. Take another deep breath, because now you’re going to face your weaknesses.
Now, without censoring yourself, start writing down everything about yourself that you think is a weakness on the side of the paper labeled “Weaknesses”. If a strength comes to mind, write it down on the other side.
Either one of these can be hard for you. Some people have a hard time bragging about themselves and others have a hard time admitting their flaws. Either way, be honest with yourself here. It will really help you in the long run.
It helps if you can have someone you know and trust to give their list of your strengths and weaknesses. It’s rare, though, to find someone who will be really honest with you about your weaknesses. We’re all too polite.
Allissa is getting all vulnerable and sharing her list, as it pertains to her new Collaborative Wellness Center
You can mock her in private. Here goes:
- Longevity & credibility after 11 years in practice in same town, only moved my office 1 time and that was an expansion.
- I collaborate well: I’m a great referrer, and a great referee (I’ll always make a referrer’s client feel welcome, and very cared for. I’ll make the referrer look good!)
- Marketing: I’m good at helping businesses connect and be seen
- Good manager/landlord
- Tech savvy
- Solid mentor and teacher
- Procrastinate. On everything.
- I stink at paperwork.
- I stink at ‘selling’.
- Inherently lazy and need to be held accountable for tasks.
Understand that just because you list some things as strengths or weaknesses, doesn’t mean they are good or bad. The goal of this exercise is to develop a business strategy that plays to your strengths and makes allowances for your weaknesses.
As you watch Allissa go through this process, you’ll see how valuable it is. The resulting business strategy can sometimes come as a surprise and yield some really amazing business ideas.
Now, let’s do the second phase of the SWOT analysis, looking at Opportunities and Threats While the Strengths and Weaknesses require an honest appraisal of yourself, Opportunities and Threats is a look at the external environment of your business. This can include the local business market, government regulations, physical location, distribution, weather, or anything outside of your business’ walls.
Create a list of opportunities for you outside your current business. Is there a new group that needs your service? Is there a change in local zoning that could work to your benefit? Have you finished a class and added new techniques? Are there other skills you have from a past job that you’re not marketing?
Here are the Opportunities that we identified
- Most wellness centers & holistic providers have terrible online presence and are inconvenient for clients to find & schedule
- I can use studio space for MORE than just yoga and movement
- Located in geographic void of services between Boston & Providence. Various modalities are underrepresented here:
- Lactation assistance
- Nutrition (holistic)
- Prenatal yoga
- Self defense
- Tai Chi
Not everything outside of the business is good for you. Here you’ll list the things outside of your control that could harm your business. Are there new laws that will limit your client base? Has a new competitor moved into your area? Has a change in the local economy affected your clients’ spending habits? Is there a low barrier to entry and a saturated market?
Here are the Threats that we identified:
- There are a handful of existing local yoga studios. Some are fledgling, some are steady.
- It’s tough to find yoga and similar style teachers that want to run their own business, for just 1-2 classes a week. (Or to find people who want to do it full time.)
The next phase is where we take all 4 lists and put them in a table to try and match the best Opportunities with our Strengths and the worst Threats with our Weaknesses. This will give us clear direction to take the business and where not to.
Analyzing the data is the first step to creating action strategies and then executing your plans. The purpose of all of this analysis is to
- Use your Strengths
- Improve your Weaknesses
- Make the most of your Opportunities
- Safeguard against your Threats
The end goal of all of the analysis is to strengthen your business or increase your income. Or both. For some people, they don’t need to grow their business but they need to protect it from changes in the environment (local economy, new competition, etc.) . Other businesses are rock solid, but need to grow. Most need a little of both.
Put all of your SWOT items in a chart
Here is Allissa’s example. This gives you a nice visual to refer back to as we start picking the items apart.
There are some patterns here. Allissa can think past her own massage practice and bring other types of wellness providers into her building to expand and create a real collaborative wellness center. She’s a good facilitator, but tends to procrastinate. This actually works well together. By renting space to other practitioners, she makes herself accountable. She HAS to finish writing that lease, she HAS to get that new signage up, she HAS to promote that workshop, because other people are counting her to do it (and paying rent for it.)
Look for patterns in your SWOT chart
Find where a Strength, Threat and Opportunity converge. That’s where your magic lives.
Strength – Allissa knows how to create a solid online presence that supports in-person networking and collaborations, and has space perfect for a variety of wellness services.
Threat – There are already a handful of yoga studios around.
Opportunity – There’s a void in wellness services in this area.
But let’s take a break from the process and hear a little story from Kelli
Back in the day, when I managed a team of engineers and technicians, I had one particular engineer on my staff who generated multiple patents every year. As his manager, it was my job to make sure he had every resource necessary to do his job and no hurdles in his way. I also had a manager who was a complete dope when it came to this man – he pressed me to make my super engineer into a manager to further his career.
What the hell was he thinking? Really? Take a man whose passion for engineering results in multiple patents every year, who spends his free time at home tinkering in his home lab and force him to do something he doesn’t enjoy and isn’t any good at?
What if I told you are doing the same thing to your best employee?
You might be a brilliant massage therapist, with hands of gold, and a winning personality but you still insist on forcing yourself to do jobs for which you have no talent or interest. Maybe you have no interest in doing chair massage, but you’re out there drumming up more on-site chair business. What are you thinking?
The ideal is when you can match what you’re passionate about with what the market needs. Today, we are going to look at how to analyze your SWOT chart to grow your business in a way that plays to your strengths and passions.
Match your strengths to opportunities and threats
We’ve picked off the easy things in the first pass at our SWOT analysis. Now, we’re getting down to brass tacks, as my grandmother said. By the way, if you can explain what that phrase means, I would really appreciate it. Leave a comment below.
Take a look at Allissa’a SWOT chart. We grayed out the Weaknesses, because we’re going to ignore those right now. We’re going to match up her strengths with opportunities and with threats.
Strengths + Opportunities = Business Growth
By matching up what she’s good at and passionate about with what the market needs, we can identify the right directions to grow her business.
Here are a few strengths:
- Super collaborator
- Good leader & mentor
- Big space to use for classes
- Good location for a variety of offerings
Strengths + Threats = Defense
- Already some local yoga and wellness classes
- Tough to find teachers
How to leverage your Strengths to turn Threats into new business
Offering a variety of classes and workshops (non-yoga options) will avoid competing with the current local businesses. Also, Allissa could seek out people who are new to teaching their topics (connect with various training programs for holistic nutrition, hypnotherapy, etc.) and find people who want some mentoring and support as they start a new business. That could prove to be more effective than trying to recruit people who are already teaching in several places.
Look at your SWOT Chart Strengths
Look at your SWOT chart and match up the Strengths with Opportunities and Threats. If you’re having a hard time with this, talk to a colleagues or mentor to help you sort it out (Premium Members can share in the Facebook Group). Sometimes, a second pair of eyes can really make the difference.
SWOT Analysis can help add clarity when a big decision needs to be made
Think back on the last few years of your business or practice and all of the decisions you’ve made. Now look back on the SWOT analysis.
Have you already done a SWOT analysis of some sort? Would the decision have been different if you had done a SWOT analysis Leave a comment and let us know!