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How SWOT Analysis Can Help Your Business Grow a Lot

How SWOT Analysis Can Help Your Business Grow a Lot

There are so many options when it comes to assessing the performance of your business that it can be hard to know which to choose. SWOT analysis is a popular tool that helps you to assess the strengths and weaknesses of your organisation, and identify the threats and opportunities that could affect your future. [1]

    Read on to find out how a SWOT analysis could help your business grow.

    Why SWOT analysis is so powerful

    SWOT analysis is so helpful as it combines both internal and external factors to paint a completely clear picture of where your business currently stands, and where it’s likely to be in the future.

      Other techniques might be great at helping you assess your own organisation, but could ignore serious threats from competitors. An analysis that’s too insular could also miss key opportunities for growth and development outside the business.

      On the other hand, focusing solely on external factors means you’re reliant upon the actions of others, which takes control out of your hands and limits opportunities for internal improvement.

      Carrying out a SWOT analysis ensures you get the right balance of internal and external factors.

      When should I use a SWOT analysis

      A SWOT analysis can be helpful in many areas of your business, and we’ve listed some suggestions below:

      • When setting new business objectives

      • To analyse existing strategies

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      • When planning projects

      • When monitoring project/strategy success

      • When planning your marketing strategy

      There are no strict rules about where and when to use a SWOT analysis. As a general rule, they’re useful anytime you’d like to assess your current strengths and weaknesses and look for opportunities for growth.

      How to do a SWOT analysis

      Wondering exactly what a SWOT analysis looks like? Here are some key questions you should ask for each section.

      Strengths

      • What’s your unique selling point?

      • What do you do better than any of your competitors?

      • Which aspects of your organisation are particularly strong?

      • Which factors make customers choose you over similar businesses?

      • Which product or service makes you stand out from the crowd?

      Weaknesses

      • Where is there room for improvement within your business?

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      • Which factors cause you to miss out on sales?

      • Which area of your business has consistently encountered problems?

      • What about your business are customers likely to perceive as weakness?

      Opportunities

      • Are there any current trends you could take advantage of?

      • What changes in your market could provide opportunities for growth?

      • How can you take advantage of changes in policy?

      • Are there any local events you could become involved with?

      Threats

      • What are your competitors doing? Is this a threat to your business?

      • Could changes in your market negatively affect your business?

      • Do you have any quality issues?

      • Do you have any issues with cash-flow or debt?

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      • How seriously could these threats affect your business?

      Still not exactly sure what your SWOT analysis should look like? Check out the full examples below for inspiration.

      Example SWOT analysis 1

      You run a fast food shop that’s been experiencing a drop in sales, and conduct a SWOT analysis to find out why. Here are the results.

      Strengths

      • Cheaper food than any nearby shop.

      Weaknesses

      • High staff turnover – many staff are not fully qualified.

      • Scored very poorly on several recent health inspections.

      • Food quality much lower than nearby shops.

      Opportunities

      • New nightclubs are opening in the surrounding area, which will increase the number of customers late at night.

      • A local competition for best fast food shop is taking place soon.

      Threats

      • The increase in online review sites means that people can read negative reviews of the shop when deciding whether or not to visit.

      • A new chain fast food shop is opening down the street.

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      In this analysis, we can see that the weaknesses of the fast food shop outweigh the strengths – this is a key warning sign. Looking for ways to remedy the current weaknesses, and taking advantage of the listed opportunities should help this business to grow.

      Example SWOT analysis 2

      You run a small toy shop on a busy high street. You’d like to increase the growth of your business and decide to carry out a SWOT analysis. Check out the results below.

      Strengths

      • More unique toys than nearby shops.

      • Very friendly and personalized service, excellent staff.

      Weaknesses

      • More expensive toys than competitors.

      • Brand not as well established as big chain toy shops.

      Opportunities

      • Local children’s hospital is holding a big event to encourage toy donations. Sponsoring the event and donating toys could improve the company’s brand image and lead to positive publicity in local media.

      • A certain brand of toy is trending on social media. Focusing marketing efforts on this toy will encourage customers to visit.

      Threats

      • A large chain toy store is opening across the street and could threaten sales.

      • Video games are becoming more popular than traditional toys.

      In this analysis, we can see that the business has some key strengths and opportunities that can be of use when deciding how to deal with threats. Focusing on providing great service and building a good local image could help our small, independent toy shop deal with the threat of chain toy shop opening across the street.

      If you want to get a clearer idea of how your business can grow and improve, carrying out a detailed SWOT analysis is a great place to start.

      Reference

      [1]Mind Tools: SWOT Analysis

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      Last Updated on December 5, 2018

      How to Lead a Team More Effectively and Be a True Leader at Work

      How to Lead a Team More Effectively and Be a True Leader at Work

      Being an efficient manager and a charismatic boss at the same time can seem like an impossible task. Is there a way to deliver the desired results for your business while remaining liked and respected by your staff?

      We all know bad examples of team leaders who seem to fail at one aspect or the other, or even at both. But we’ve also heard of awesome managers who seem to juggle both things well enough.

      How do they do it?

      By sticking to few proven ways that let them maintain a positive karma score while remaining efficient. In this article, we’ll guide you through 11 smart management tips on how to lead a team and become something more than a boss – a leader.

      1. Find a Management Strategy and Stick to It

      There’s nothing worse than a boss that keeps changing his or her opinions and assignments depending on their mood or a book they read this week. Chaotic decisions increase the insecurity and frustration of your team, so you better find your strategy and stick to it.

      If you do find some new methods you want your staff to follow, make sure they don’t contradict the general direction you are taking. Otherwise, you risk making your team take one step forward and two steps back.

      2. Set Goals​ and Track Progress in Reaching Them

      Set individual and collective goals​ for your team and track the progress in reaching them. This might sound obvious at first, but too often we find ourselves stuck between daily customer requests and monthly reports, and the bigger goal or vision seems to fade away.

      According to Elon Musk (and many other successful CEOs around the Globe), it’s crucial to have a clear and motivating aim to where the company is heading. His aim for the space transportation company SpaceX is “to make humankind a multi-planetary species”.[1] That’s a huge goal but the company is slowly moving closer to it by reaching smaller steps and milestones, like launching self-landing rockets. This is also a very inspiring and meaningful goal that helps employees endure the company’s extremely high expectations and 60 to 70-hour work weeks.[2]

      Even if your goals are not as grand, setting and reaching milestones will give you a clear insight into the team’s overall efficiency and daily progress. With time, you will be able to see the weak spots and improve your results.​

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      3. Demand Learning from Your Team

      CEO of print on demand startup Printful, Davis Siksnans, believes that:[3]

      “The key for a company going through rapid growth is to empower your employees’ self-development.”

      His company with 500 employees spanning two continents demands a culture of learning and provides all the tools necessary to do it.

      Their idea is –  as the company scales, people have to grow in their positions too, which means that they have to be constantly learning. Siksnans says:

      “We try to hire people for what they might become, but they need to have that drive.“

      Alternatively, you can provide educational courses for your employees or invite informal lecturers to educate and inspire your team. You can also encourage peer-to-peer learning by asking employees to teach their particular experience or skill to co-workers.

      4. Invest in a Pleasant Work Environment

      Studies show that a well-designed office environment can increase your team’s overall performance by as much as 20%. You’ll be surprised to see that even very small interior tweaks that don’t require major investments can improve your workers’ performance.

      Some ideas for a more productive and pleasing work environment:

      • Invest in modern furniture – offer ergonomic chairs, standing desks, and individually arranged workplaces​.
      • Start an in-house library – reading for pleasure just 30 minutes a day is proven to be enough to become more effective at work,[4] improve focus, and deal with problems like depression and anxiety.​
      • Play jazzy office music – rhythmic background music will help workers feel more energetic and enthusiastic while doing everyday tasks.​
      • Set up entertainment or break rooms – being able to relax and have fun at work creates a strong commitment, helps employees relax and clear their minds, and boosts productivity.​
      • Bring in uplifting office decor – it’s been found that art in the workplace can boost productivity,[5] lower stress, and even encourage employees to innovate.​
      • Decorate the office with live plants for freshness and a welcoming feel. Furthermore, plants are found to ensure better air quality and increase workers’ productivity by 15%.[6]

      5. Be Kind and Sincere to Your Team

      Did you know that 50% of employees quit because they dislike working with their manager?[7] In fact, most times when people leave their jobs they actually leave their managers. Being friendly and sincere may not be enough to be a successful manager, but it’s a big part of it.

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      Some ways to show you appreciate and care for your staff:

      • Celebrate the progress and achievements of your employees. And don’t be shy to simply say thanks.​
      • Talk to your employees regularly and really listen to what they have to say. Address their concerns, help them reach their goals and do your best to improve their work and daily life.
      • If you’re having a bad day, don’t pour out your stress and anger on the staff. Instead, try to recharge yourself by appreciating the achievements of your team and setting the next goals.
      • Try not to overload your team with work. Every company has rush periods when it’s okay to have more work than usual. But remember that people cannot work under prolonged pressure and stress.
      • Don’t be selfish – it can be very demotivating to see that the manager only focuses on what you can do for him and doesn’t care about your goals and well-being.​ As the CEO of Xerox Anne M. Mulcahy put it,[8]

        “Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person — not just an employee — are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled.”

      Whenever you are having doubts about your kind attitude, remember – satisfied employees are productive employees which lead to satisfied customers and eventually – success for your company.

      6. Offer Flexible Work Hours

      The traditional Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 job is beginning to slip away. Increasingly more people are working remotely or having flexible work hours, and we can expect this trend to continue. To adapt to these changing habits and remain competitive in the labor market, more employers are offering the chance to choose your own work hours, work from home or even from another city or country.

      Offering flexible hours is a powerful way to inspire your existing staff and give them intrinsic motivation. Why not let your employees choose their preferred working hours while keeping the 8-hour day? For example, night owls are unhappy and unproductive if they have to come to work before 10 AM, while others might prefer to start at 7 and finish earlier.

      You can go even farther and hire remote workers – this way you’ll be able to recruit from a global talent pool and even save money on office expenses like desks, stationery, electricity, etc.[9]

      7. Track Your Team’s Productive Time

      Not monitoring your employees’ progress and efficiency can result in poor performance and slacking. Instead of letting things go with the flow, you should consider installing time-tracking software on your employees’ computers and see who’s doing great and who might need a productivity boost.

      But don’t get it wrong – there’s no need to become big brother and watch every step your employees take. If you use the time-tracker as a spying tool, you will only see increasing suspicion and insecurity around you, and your employees’ happiness levels will drop.

      On the contrary, choose software that allows employees to mark private time that won’t be tracked. In addition, consider these time-management tactics:

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      • Allow flexible work hours. (see Tip No 6)
      • Encourage breaks – studies show that employees who take regular breaks are more productive than those who don’t.[10]
      • Enable remote work to show your employees that you trust them and that they can work from home or even from another country (if they can maintain sufficient productivity).
      • Consider offering bonuses to your most productive employees (those who show productivity levels above 90 or 95%).

      8. Use Only Constructive Criticism

      Constructive criticism means offering valid and rational opinions about the work of others, involving both positive comments and remarks about what should be improved. Constructive criticism is usually expressed in a friendly manner rather than an oppositional one.

      When you evaluate your team’s work, give them feedback that’s helpful, specific, and sincere. Don’t be shy to praise, but also be direct and even strict when necessary.

      9. Don’t Give Special Treatment to Yourself

      The boss’s actions are – directly or indirectly – observed by your team. This means that your employees look up to you and often mimic your attitude towards your work and the company – especially if your actions don’t show commitment. Nobody wants to work for a leader who doesn’t go all in or inspire motivation.

      What you should do is lead by example. If you expect your employees to arrive at work on time and work 8 hours, do the same yourself. If you want them to show initiative, show it yourself and encourage others to do the same.

      Jeff Weiner is the CEO of LinkedIn – a company of 3,000 employees that consistently ranks as one of the best workplaces with a 92 percent employee-approval rating.[11] Weiner’s workdays are reported to be equally long or even longer than those of his employees, allowing him to stay “extremely credible as a leader.”

      10. Empower Your Employees

      Here’s a common mistake many managers make:

      They don’t motivate their staff and assume they simply love to work for their company.​ Such belief can result in painful losses for the company – especially these days when many companies are in desperate need of a reliable workforce.

      Instead of directly thinking about bonuses and perks, consider intrinsic motivation. For example, enable flat organization in your team and listen to your employees’ ideas when they come up with opinions and suggestions. Your company might actually benefit a great deal from the feedback, and the unique ideas employees come up with.

      You can also start an initiative where employees can freely share or pitch their business ideas to you or the founders of the company. If the idea is accepted by the management, the project can be developed, and the employee can have equity options.

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      If people feel they have an impact in the company, they become more motivated, engaged and interested in the company’s growth.

      11. Nurture Your Company Culture

      Company culture is the personality of a company that defines the overall work environment and relationships between teammates. It also includes company mission, values, ethics, and goals.

      Some examples of company cultures are the Horizontal corporate culture (collaborative and equal; popular among startups and free-spirited businesses) and Conventional corporate culture (a more risk-averse and hierarchy-based approach common in traditional companies).

      However, you don’t have to stick to pre-existing boxes when creating your corporate culture. You might think of your team as a family, a sports team, or even a hippie camp if it fits your business and purpose. But keep in mind that by the time a company’s size reaches 20 employees, the company culture is set,[12] and any changes will need to be implemented in smaller teams.

      Whichever personality you choose for your company, make sure to live by it and nurture it. Some things that might help:

      Team building events, relevant books in your office library and proper on-boarding for the new employees to get everyone on the same page from the very beginning.

      Be a Leader, Not a Boss

      Using the words of Printful’s CEO Davis Siksnans, the ultimate goal is to “Hire great people who don’t have to be managed.”

      However, when you do need to demonstrate some initiative and control, act as a leader rather than as a boss.

      In other words, don’t be afraid to show the personality behind your role. And keep these 11 tips close to your heart.

      Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

      Reference

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