As we evolve our thoughts from Process to Planning, we need to think about the Status Quo. The first challenge to the Status Quo is Inflation which we discussed. That causes a mix of strategic and tactical projects that change the Processes within a Business. The challenge we then need to look at is the strategic context that the Business resides in. The first tool that can be used to examine this is called a SWOT.
SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. This is a tool to examine the current state of any business. The idea should be obvious but each of the categories of the SWOT. The one thing that may not be clear is that Strengths and Weaknesses are internally focused. Opportunities and Threats are externally focused. Most Small Businesses are pretty good about understanding their business so get the internal factors. They struggle a bit with the external factors.
For example, here in Sonoma County there has been a rebirth of Passenger Air service in the last 5 years. The flights are very full and a second airline has just come into the picture. This is a major potential source of revenue for many companies. There was significant construction required in a Runway expansion as well as an expansion of the terminal. The number of passengers has increased, so it represents a potential market for travel. So, there are literally a dozen or so industries directly and indirectly impacted by this growth. Most small businesses did not give this expansion a second thought. Because of that, there has been little to no involvement by smaller businesses. They missed an Opportunity.
As more and more products are purchased on-line, brick and mortar retail is struggling with how to compete. This extends to things like Insurance. I have had agents complain about eSurance or Geico, but that is going to be the way the world works in the future. It is simply a matter of time. Really the question is what will folks in that business do in 20 years? I suspect there will be specialty practices and markets that will remain with brokers for a very long time. The question really is can somebody identify them and focus on these markets. If so, they will survive the long term decline of the general market. We see this in Print. Print is dead right? Well, general print is dead. Specialty print is doing quite well.
So, do a SWOT for your business. Engage with it and make plans to address your findings!
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