I am a founder of a mastermind group started over a decade ago. The idea is to apply business principles to our personal lives. I noticed that a lot of people don’t know how to properly construct and use business principles — things like vision strategies, legacy statements, marketing plans and financial projections — things that would really help them in their personal lives. Our mastermind group consists of five women (some have come and gone but it consistently remains five) who meet once a month and hold each other accountable as we work our way through our life planning. Part of this blog post is excerpted from the exercises that we are documenting.
One of my favorite exercises we have done is a standard business application called a S.W.O.T. analysis. It is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. The formula I came up with to do a SWOT analysis is to first, decide what you want to achieve or evaluate, and then break your analysis down into two basic categories.
1. Evaluate the opportunities and threats that exist for what you want to achieve. Think of these as external factors.
2. Honestly assess your strengths and weaknesses. Think of these as internal factors.
The difference between the two categories, internal and external is huge because you can personally work on internal issues in order to improve. External issues are harder because you can’t change them. For that reason they are often the cause of worry which is fruitless and the nemesis of many of us. However, you can leverage external situations to your advantage or hedge against them to protect yourself.
Remember to start with what you want to achieve. My present goal is to sell 100,001 books in one year’s time.
Opportunities and Threats
What are my opportunities? I am with a major publishing house. My books are good. I know this because I read it to children all the time. They are engaged. It is being sold at almost all the major booksellers, and if they don’t have it in stock, they can easily order it. Penguin Random House has an entire structure set up for these types of logistics. Other products I’ve invented, such as my Bloomers Island VeggiePOPS and Growing Kits are currently being sold in major retailers. I can leverage my relationships there.
I can employ these things to my advantage. On my website and in all my sales sheets and brochures, I make sure that I mention Random House Children’s Books because it gives me legitimacy, after all they are the number one publisher in the world, for which I’m humbly grateful to be a part of. My licensee is calling on our current retailers and pitching them on including a book with one of our VeggiePOPS.
What are my threats? The economy can crash. Booksellers can and do go out of business. People read less books now. They buy eBooks which are cheaper and don’t make as much money.
How can I hedge against these threats? Help booksellers increase their sales with things like my influencer’s shop on Amazon, (https://www.amazon.com/shop/bloomersisland), and school events done in conjunction with book stores. Package the book with existing products that I am already selling in major retailers to substantially increase sales.
These are just some examples. There is a lot I can do to both leverage and hedge.
One of my esteemed advisors, John Michael Morris, used to tell me to make a list of twenty things whenever I was confronted with a worrisome or uncertain issue. I listed twenty ways I could protect myself and exploit opportunities to reach my goal. You might think coming up with twenty things is hard, but once you get started, it’s easier than you think. Start with five. You’ll get to twenty. Use your most powerful weapon, your brain. It also forces you to dig deeper (pun intended), and get really creative with solutions. You can do it.
Your Homework: Come up with your threats and opportunities related to your goal, and then twenty ways you can take advantage of the opportunities and protect yourself against the threats. Please share your methodology and your list and next week I’ll tackle strengths and weaknesses. Happy digging.
Final Note: Here is a link to part two of this article which focuses on Strengths and Weaknesses: https://medium.com/@cynthiawylie/you-should-know-how-to-do-a-s-w-o-t-analysis-part-2-strengths-weaknesses-7f2242fde976