If you’re serious about growing your business significantly—scaling it up to take it to the next level—you may be willing to take some serious actions to address the issues that are holding you back. You may think that it’s time to “pull out the big guns” to get the job done.
Some businesses bring in outside help with a ruthless, “take-no-prisoners” approach to reshaping a company. I’ve seen it first-hand and it’s not pretty.
Don’t get me wrong: Transforming your business is a serious undertaking, but calling in a SWAT team may not be the most effective way to grow your business. It may feel like you’re being decisive and taking charge, but decisiveness is best when it’s based on good information.
That’s why assessment is so critical in order to move your business forward. It’s not enough to be moving, you have to be moving your company in the right direction.
That’s where a tool such as a SWOT analysis can be so valuable. I use it frequently with clients to help them get a better handle on where they really are before they start making wholesale changes to their businesses. You may be familiar with the concept, but here’s a quick overview as a reminder.
- Strengths: Sometimes a business has a tendency to “throw the baby out with the bath water.” They’re not seeing the results they want and so they want to start from scratch. An honest look at their actual strengths—the things they actually do well—can be very helpful in figuring out what to do next. Take advantage of your strengths!
- Weaknesses: In the same way that companies overlook their strengths, they can also overlook their weaknesses. That’s dangerous, too. Ignoring areas where you underperform (or simply aren’t good) can cause huge problems. You’ve heard people say, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” But if you don’t know it’s broken (or don’t admit it) you can’t fix it—and that will keep you from growing.
- Opportunities: Some companies set goals and strategies without considering what the real opportunities are. Assessing genuine opportunities involves looking beyond your company and taking a hard, honest look at your market and your potential customers. By the way, often your opportunities will relate directly to your strengths.
- Threats: Unperceived threats to your business can blindside you. These threats can come from inside your company, but they are often dangers that exist outside in the form of competition and changing markets (among other things). Some people think that ignorance is bliss, but what you don’t know can hurt you.
You many notice a subtle common element in each of these categories: Brutal honesty is required. That’s a key reason many companies bring in a trusted advisor from the outside. When you enlist the services of an impartial individual, he or she can challenge your assumptions and insist that you be able to back up your observations with data.
A SWAT team has it’s place (even in business), but before you call in the big guns, make sure you have an accurate assessment of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Then you’ll be in a better position to make decisions that will allow you to grow your company..