Doing a SWOT analysis as a Bootstrapping Young Entreprenuer - Once I have completed, what should the next step be?
I am striving to move forward as a LLC from a Sole Proprietor in 2015. Have been developing the blueprint and planning phases of my business for franchising, future investing, etc. I am done with my SWOT analysis - what should I do afterward?
I would suggest compiling your data from each participant, and making a data driven decision as to what the biggest problem is for your 1st initiative, then Fish-bone Diagram to determine possible causes, Pareto Charting, Researching your solution options, testing on a small scale adjusting, checking and acting/adjust based on previous results(PDCA) Cycle...Dont forget to look ahead and plan for continuous improvement opportunities :D
This may sound a bit harsh but please take this as an observation meant to help.
SWOT is a technique used in more "mature" businesses. Do you have a going/growing business now? I'm not seeing much evidence on the web.
More importantly, your quesiton implies you really not clear on why you are engaging in the SWOT exercise to begin with. Marture businesses use SWOT to assess situational gaps and acquire/apply resources to meet their mission and goals. I'd suggest you find a good busines coach and start developing a business model and test viability before getting too deep with this vein of analytics.
Personal note, I don't believe: "You determine your own fate!" as your web site espouses.
You are born, raised, and live in a social context that is far more the determining factor of your world view and behavior than you can see or even suspect. On the business side, realizing that your don't "make your success" without a market is important because you manifest change as a business through an understanding of "other's" wants and desires, engineering profitable interactions, and...a bit of luck.
Strategic and business planning is a very complex process. It involves many disciplines including sales, marketing, product development, oerations and finance, as well as whatever industry domain skills needed. Even as a 25 year CEO I would never do it alone.
There are a dozen different approaches and tools used for perspective that have been developed over the last 50 years or so. So your question is kind of like "Tell me how to build a building?" It begs 50 questions like "How Big?", a skyscraper, a home, what climate? Made of wood, steel or concrete? To last how long? What is the purpose of this building?
I have 12 tools I use and teach in my CEO Boot Camp and sell a Strategic Planning kit with all of them in it. I would generally use 3-4 approaches and 4-6 tools to create an optimum business model and plan. That experience could not be captured in 5 books, never mind a blog post.
All entrepreneurs think they have their business model figured out. None (yes literally ZERO in my experience and I have worked with hundreds of startups) ever do until they are a $100 million business. Entrepreneurship always has some iteration and trial and error. I can generally improve a business model 100% with 4-8 hours of work with a client. There are always unknowns unless you are replicating someone else’s business, and even then maybe.
I also published an eBook called "Designing a Startup For Rapid Growth". These are available at www.StartupPlanet.com and here: http://www.airtightmgt.com/products.html
That said I would also say the tools are only 5-10% of your problem, as this is like giving a paintbrush to someone and expecting them to paint the Mona Lisa. It is about deep experience, or "unconscious competence" (see the book "Blink" by Malcolm Gladwell), which is your subconscious neurons being wired to do this by thousands of hours of experience.
What you need is someone to help you with this who has done it for 5-20 years. As a new entrepreneur you will likely struggle with trial and error for years before figuring out many things that a good mentor can tell you in a month of work with them. You will learn that in any marketplace you will be facing tough competition from top experts. Best you have one on your team. Great companies are never built by individuals, but by teams with complementary skills.
Alexander, there are dozens of business, management and strategy tools out there, and I for one, keep forgetting from time to time what many of them are meant to do.
The next step for you, should have been the step that comes before you did the SWOT. And that's asking 'why am I doing the SWOT?'
As an entrepreneur, there are a lot of efforts, experiments and mistakes in a hundred different directions. But you need to minimize rework, which often happens when one starts without the end in mind.
Read about tools like SWOT, etc. (best quick read on wikipedia), and then maybe redo the SWOT with a renewed purpose.
There is a well-defined purpose for conducting a SWAT analysis and many good reasons why you should never attempt one alone. In fact if you consider a SWAT in isolation, you have already identified your first two entries under W & T!
A SWAT is of most use when applied to an existing business plan or model, therefore ensure you have a plan drafted, as only then will you have something tangible to analyse.
Review the purpose of a SWAT up front then you will know exactly the reasons you are planning one, then gather some reliable, talented and business savvy individuals whose opinions you admire and trust, after making certain all participants understand your plan redo your SWAT. Then you will have accurately answered your own question.
Alex - may I humbly suggest that before you even start walking down the path of all those wonderful academic models being suggested; you do something incredibly simple and extremely informative.
I take it that in asking your question in the first place you are not an experienced business manager and that in itself may imply that there may be additional information, thoughts, knowledge etc that can be added to your SWOT analysis.
SWOT is a fantastic tool for establishing exactly what it sets out to do irrespective of the age or function of a business or product but if you have undertaken this process on your own, the results will be limited by the breadth and depth of your own experience and imagination - find a good friend; friends or an experienced business manager or coach to gain a broader understanding of you proposal and market place to add value; insight and challenge your assumptions and beliefs - genuine managers and coaches will undoubtedly help you for free to complete this first and essential step.
I wish you the very best of success with your venture but please find someone who can effectively challenge your SWOT assumptions and add value to your hypothesis
Congratulations on doing a SWOT analysis! So many business owners don't ever check out their Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Now, that you have some idea of where you are my first question is to ask, "How does that feel?" Did it confirm what you thought? Was it different? Have you considered all factors? Are you being honest with your assessment? Asking these questions is the first place to stepping into your position or stepping away from it. If you don't like where you are, do you know why you're there? Now, what your marketing doing to create your brand position based on these factors? I'd need to know more to be able to guide you further, but just taking a look at a SWOT analysis is an amazing start to getting you honestly evaluating your business relative to your current environment. Remember,a SWOT analysis should be done frequently especially if you're doing a lot of personal growth and your industry is evolving. To your Sweet Success!
Here is the short answer – put together a business plan that will:
1) maximize the number of times the required business functions play to your strengths to maximize the revenue from your opportunities and minimize the risk from your threats
2) minimizing the number of times the business functions overlap with your weaknesses – if there are an excessive number of these then you are probably proposing to enter the wrong business, or you need to take on a partner with complementary skills.
Process-based design/analysis might be helpful here. I have used these tools for years, and I would be happy to speak with you if you think that would be helpful.
Have you confronted your project to some potential clients? Have you signed a first client yet?
You business planning process should be very lean. if you want to business plan the agile way, follow this link http://www.slideshare.net/frederic0moreau/agile-strategic-planning-methodology
The first thing I would do is Register the company with the appropriate authorities. The LLC is very important because you need to protect your assets. The last thing you need is to have your corporate veil pierced because you fail to follow the correct process.
The next item is equally important and that is building your team, this is where all the planning in the world will fail if you don't have a good team in place. You can't do it all yourself.
I don't want to assume you have completed a business plan, conduct a proper market research analysis. Know the trends, forecasts,developments, opportunities risks and competitors.Decide whether you will pursue this venture full-time or part-time, after that outline a monthly budget. Your bills don't stop coming when you start a business, they just doubled. So having a solid plan in place for your bill at home is a must. Remember most start-up fail because of bad planning, I can't mention this often enough, that the lack of funding will derail your plans in a matter of months. Find investors , consult with your local bank or find a FINANCIAL ADVISOR.
Become familiar with regulations and compliance requirements for your start-up
Again I don't want to assume anything, obtain business licenses and permits; after your formation is in place and you've obtain your EIN number. Obtain the company contact information: telephone and fax numbers, email and postal address. Open up a merchant bank account (keep your money separated). Find a business insurance and a good tax advisor. The last but certainly not least is the location.
I'm sure you will do you homework , and every start-up has it's challenges; just stay positive and surround yourself with good people and everthing will be fine.
SWOT is part of internal analysis. You must do both internal as well as external analysis. Once finished, you move on to defining your SMART objectives and long-term/short-term strategies.
More information is needed to clarify what you need to achieve with SWOT.
Different analysis apply to different aims.
For example you might need to do PEST but not SWOT.
There are some great and some freighting responses listed here already, I believe you should not worry to much and keep practicing with the analytic and strategic tools to determine your position in the business arena.
I for one like to run the "Porter Five Forces" analyses, which could use your SWOT outcomes at input and will force you to think thoroughly how and where you want to compete with your business.
I hope this helps you to move the next stage.
I think this has been said, but SWOT assumes you have a Structure in place. If you are a Solo Operator, it won't really help you. I have worked with a lot of young Companies on their way up. It is more about Business Planning, and depending on what you sell, it can be on a time Horizon of 1 to 3 years. It is hard for me to say what approach to recommend not knowing your business.
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