In the previous article we explored the competitive advantage of performing a SWOT on your business and some of the techniques for getting the best data. So now what? How do we use the data to level the playing field with big business and other competitors?

Small businesses need to get into the practise of making the most of the resources they do have and that is where performing a good SWOT can be very useful to a small business owner.

Small businesses often under-utilize the strengths and resources that they do have.

Below are 3 ways that you can increase the effectiveness of the resources you have access to:

  1. Leverage the strengths you do have

From the SWOT, you have undoubtedly uncovered a handful of strengths (some you were aware of and some you never really thought about). These details of your business need to be talked about, shared, blogged about and celebrated. Your strengths should be included in your website content, your social media posts, and in your elevator pitch. The idea is that we want everyone to know what makes you great.

Also, when you identify a strength that you can leverage by communicating it, why stop there? Can that strength generate an opportunity?  For instance, if one of your strengths is having very loyal team members, why not develop an incentive program to encourage them to bring in more business or invite your staff to attend networking events with you. When your team is loyal, they are the best people to brag about your business and they are often glad to do it!  Praise about a business from its employees holds a great deal of credibility with customers.

 

  1. Convert a weakness or threat to an opportunity

Don’t let the weakness and threat categories of the SWOT get you down. Uncovering the challenges within your business allows you to think of ways to mitigate or avoid these things but they may also provide the opportunity to convert a weaknesses or threat into an opportunity.

An example of this would be if the SWOT uncovered that you have limited people to support you in your business (perhaps you are experiencing entrepreneurial loneliness). This can be converted into a number of different opportunities. You could identify new alliances, seek out a mentor, build / join an advisory team of colleagues or identify tasks that would be more efficient to outsource such as admin or social media tasks. Performing a SWOT and identifying this weakness may result in you exploring wonderful opportunities that you may have otherwise overlooked.

Another great example of converting a threat into an opportunity occurs when we consider our competitors vying for your market share.  Many small business industries are highly fragmented with numerous owners splitting the pie into several small market shares and no single business owner doing very well…..  However, converting the threat of competition into an opportunity by considering a joint venture, merger or acquisition allows two or more businesses to strengthen their position and thrive where on their own, they would not.

 

  1. Change your perspective about a weakness

We often consider that large companies and corporations have advantages that small business owners don’t have. They have more resources – in particular, big companies have access to a larger talent pool from which to draw from and to delegate tasks within. This allows for a broader spread of responsibility and more people to support the overall vision of the company.  This larger talent pool also positively impacts the number, and often the quality, of ideas generated within the company. Better ideas, result in more revenue.

However, the fewer team members involved in your typical small business can actually create some advantages (if you know how to look for them).

Fewer team members can result in:

  • Less training expense
  • Fewer interpersonal relationships to manage
  • Employees trained to work multiple roles/functions
  • Faster response time in making decisions – less people to consult

If recognized, encouraged and leveraged properly, all of the above can result in:

  • Better employee / employer relationships
  • Higher buy in of the company vision from team members
  • Increased employee loyalty (lower turnover)
  • And ultimately …. Better customer service

So as you review your SWOT, consider if there is a way to change your perspective about a weakness or threat and re-language it as a strength.

Making better use of the information generated from a SWOT with the tips above will give you an even greater competitive advantage and will also yield a clear list of action items for you to begin moving your business forward.