Because you are proactive, responsible, and result-oriented, you are continually analyzing your current situation based on the realities of the moment, rather than on the way it might have been yesterday or the way it may be tomorrow.
The word SWOT is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. By continually evaluating your situation as if you were in enemy country, surrounded by hostile forces, you are better able to make the best decisions and to focus your energies where the best results are possible. The successful commander is one who can bring his greatest strengths to bear against the areas of greatest enemy weakness. At the beginning of World War II, the French felt secure behind the Maginot Line, the massive fortifications forming a zone ten to fifty miles deep that they had built along the country’s eastern border between 1929 and 1934. The Germans’ great advantage was speed and mobility. Using this strength to their advantage, they skirted the line and attacked through Belgium, which had refused to allow France to extend the Maginot Line along the Franco-Belgian border. From there, the Germans swept through the Ardennes Forest and across France, brining about the unconditional surrender of the French Government in less than six weeks.
1. Strengths. What are your personal strengths? What are the strengths of your business? What are the strengths of the key people who report to you? What are the strengths of your products or services relative to your competition in today’s marketplace? Be clear about your strengths, your areas of superiority, and always look for ways to capitalize on them.
2. Weaknesses. Where are you weak as a person? What are the weaknesses of your staff? What are the weaknesses of your products or services, based on feedback from your customers? What are the weaknesses in your current business situation, and what could you do to compensate for them? These are key questions you must ask and answer on a regular basis.
3. Opportunities. What opportunities are available to you to increase sales, cut costs, and improve your market position? What are the trends? Where is the market going? What is it that customers want today, and will want tomorrow, that you are not currently offering? Your greatest benefits and rewards will come from capitalizing on the opportunities of tomorrow rather than on being preoccupied with the problems of the past.
4. Threats. What are the threats to your business? What could possibly go wrong? What can you do to assure that you continue to survive and thrive no matter what happens? The failure to acknowledge and counter a possible threat can be disastrous to a company and to a military unit.
Conduct a SWOT analysis regularly on every part of your business, both internal and external. Make sure everyone around you is thinking in these terms as well. This keeps everyone sharp and alert and ready to act quickly when necessity demands it.