As the New Year approaches, you’ll hear a lot about goal setting- even from me! But lets do this a bit differently….
I truly hope that part of your goal setting is that you’ll do (or revisit) your company’s Strategic Plan.
As a business owner, having a clear vision of the future is important. Unless you like the drudgery of dealing with the same issues the same way, every day.
Part of Strategic Planning is doing a SWOT Assessment or SWOT Analysis of your business.
S.W.O.T. stands for Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities and Threats.
Grab a coffee as you read this article, and also grab a pen and some paper. And keep checking back to the blog because I’m going to do a step-by-step walk through of effective strategic planning here.
Our Strengths and Weaknesses are internal. We can control them or have influence over them.
As you write your notes, use short crisp language. Be succinct and painfully honest with yourself. Think of your internal strengths. These need to be true strengths. If you write down “we have the lowest prices”, please call me immediately! You’re in trouble!
What are your real strengths in your business? Do you have a truly great Customer service system? Do you have unique machinery, unique skillsets? Maybe you’re the undisputed leader in something special in your industry? Are you the best marketers in your industry? Work on your list until you come to only 4 or 5 distinct strengths.
Now, lets be painfully honest with our Weaknesses. How is your A/R? What about your people? Do you have a healthy team? How many of your key people will retire in the next 3 years?
Whatever it is, being brutally honest with yourself pays dividends later. You would hate to be the Emperor with no Clothes on this one.
Ok, now we can move on to the external factors. What are the Opportunities and Threats you or your industry faces?
I’ve often found that clients like to get lost in the Opportunities column. Because, of course, its fun.
The best thing you can do when this is part of strategic planning is making this just another section. Sure- get excited, but don’t let that excitement cloud reality!
Opportunities can come from so many places. Here’s one that is often overlooked … Have you really tapped into the leverage point that is your client or customer feedback? Look at your Yelp reviews or at feedback from your customers. Do you do a Net Promoter Score? If so are you using it as a tool for growth or change?
Again, make sure you are jotting these things down. In a strategic plan this is one of the first sections you’ll complete!
As a business coach, and trainer of business coaches, I’m a big fan of taking action.
So all I’d ask you to do is commit to taking one action form this article. At the very least, take a post-it note and write “S.W.O.T.” on it. The put it on the dashboard of your car!
That’s how I get into your head!
Here’s what we’ve found amongst all our coaches, and all our clients. Some of you may know that I’ve built a high performing team of professional business coaches around the world. Those coaches report back that most business owners don’t do regular strategic planning.
So- just by doing this exercise makes you one of the top 20-25% of Business Owners.
By taking action on the insights you get form doing a SWOT, you move into the top 2%.
Nice place to be, isn’t it?
Thanks for reading; I’m looking forward to your comments, thoughts, tips and tricks on this one!
You can read this on Linkedin too!
Title photo credit;Headlineshirts.net
A few weeks ago I went to the BC Food Processors Association meeting . With all the media about how bad CETA was going to be I wanted to see if there was a shred of positive. I mean- there’s got to be a reason for doing this right?
Plus I hate it when I hear faceless people complaining without offering real solutions. Frankly it’s a waste of my time.
So I went to the event. I have to say- it was quite the eye opener.
They had Monica Gervais who is the Senior Manager of Trade Policy and Negotiations from the BC Ministry of International Trade give us the run down. Afterwards, she shared her slides with me and I gleaned some good info for those of us who want to see the opportunities (and potential threats) in time to course correct and take advantage. (See below for links or call me)
Some of this info should find its way into your Strategic Planning or SWOT assessments- and its about more than just food!
It was a pretty long talk with lots of detail so I’ll give an overview here. If you want more detail, let me know, or see the links below.
To set the context, it turns out Canada has been pretty aggressive at pursuing free trade agreements. There are 3 that came up at the meeting.
· Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement (CKFTA)
· Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA)
· Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)
I had heard about the CETA deal about 6 or 7 years ago when the Italian Chamber of Commerce did a cross-Canada road show on it. I’ll focus on CETA here…
So its coming into effect in 2017 and covers….
Monica Gervais pointed out that Canada is the only G7 country with preferential access to both the EU and USA ( we’ll see what the new US prez really does about that)
Here’s some more detail for your Christmas, Hannukah and New Years Eve trivia convos……
· The CETA agreement will eliminate tariffs on some key BC goods including Agri-foods products
· 94 percent of agriculture products going to the EU will be duty-free, including:
-->Fresh and Frozen fruit (9 to 12 percent)…. That’s good for our for Okanagan Apples
-->frozen, fresh, and processed blueberries (tariffs up to 9.6 percent)… that’s great for most of Richmond and Pitt Meadows
-->Processed Fruits and Vegetables such as dried cranberries (14 to 17.6 percent) …Again Richmond!
o Cherries (up to 12 percent) …that’s great for the Interior
o Mushrooms (up to 18.4 percent) …I’m assuming the legit kind !
· It will also Reduce non-tariff barriers like:
-->Sanitary and Phytosanitary Committee
· Improves labour mobility: business professionals, technicians
-->Hmmm …. Some labor markets in Vancouver/BC are already super tight here.
* The implications here should be part of all Strategic Planning conversations going forward
· Improves access to government procurement to the local government level: a $3.7 trillion market in the EU
· Supports collaboration, sharing knowledge and research in science, technology and innovation
--> Hmm…I wonder what this will do for SRED Credits. Ill have to ask Kevin Wong at Stonecracker Law
Ok this was a bit of a long one, but that’s what you get for reading a blog post about government policies….I’m pretty sure this will be a polarizing topic, but , I cant simply choose to ignore it if my clients ask me about it, right?
If you have thoughts, or helpful links, definitions, or clarity, PLEASE let us all know here.
You can read this and my other articles on my blog here
A few days ago I met with a long-standing client for a day of strategic planning. This is a powerhouse team of two partners who are very dialed in, super smart, and very passionate about their business. In the last three years they have added three additional business units to their core operation. They are actually a dream client, because they implement and act on their coaching insights very quickly.
Both of them expressed a concern about how long the Strategic Planning process would take. With their busy operations they both felt that taking an entire day away from the office would be too much. (Ask me later why it took 3 years for us to get there)
Not to give away their final observation but by the end of the day they wanted more.
To make the best use of your time reading this, I’ll outline how a day gets consumed in building a proper strategic planning session.
To set the context for you, we started at 8:30, broke only for lunch, and finished at 6. Cell phones were off, and we were offsite so that we wouldn’t be interrupted.
Here are the time blocks for our day
Our Values/ Our Purpose/ Our BHAG- 2.5 hours
S.W.O.T. Assessment – 1.5 hours
Lunch- 1 hour (actually 45 mins)
What is our Brand Promise, and how can we measure it? – 1 hour
Our 3 to 5 year Projections and Critical Numbers- 1.5 hour
One year Projections and Priorities including Critical Numbers – 1.5 hour
Summary, Agreement on Action Items - 30 minutes
Open Items still remaining- Quarterly Projections, Actions and Accountabilities (target- 1 hour)
This type of facilitated exercise is very engaging and it feels like it goes by very quickly. I was impressed at how aligned these two partners are, and that certainly kept things moving well. Let me quickly define each of the sections a bit more so that you understand the value.
Defining our Values, our Purpose, and our BHAG. (2.5 hours) The reason Strategic Planning starts here is because alignment on these three items leads to clearly defined goals as well as projections and actions.
I once led a session with a dental practice where the three partners had very different values. It seems like a small thing but it had been causing a rift in the organization. One valued business growth, while another valued life balance. (The 3rd partner was newer and was still in practice building mode). As you might imagine, a value of “growth” came with statements like “I’m happy to work weekends”, and “lets expand”.
The partner who valued life-balance was expressing things like “reasonable hours”, and a cautious approach to taking on new practice space. Those values caused un-deniable tension. We worked though it with coaching but left unchecked, not being aligned is a cancer.
The S.W.O.T. Assessment. This acronym stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. We invested 1.5 hours in this self-assessment, and it was worth it. Again, if I had to sum it up in one word it would be “alignment”. This is an excellent focusing exercise that becomes a reality gut-check on projections.
Lunch took us 1 hour. Before we left, I proposed a topic for lunch discussion around an industry trend that came up in the S.W.O.T. This particular industry has had an increasing number of lawsuits in their industry- how are we going to deal with that? An excellent side conversation!
What is our Brand Promise, and how can we measure it? This was a 1-hour piece of our planning session, and in this case it went by in a breeze.
Next was 1.5 hours on our 3 to 5 year Projections and Critical Numbers.
This was a really exciting exercise because we took last years numbers and had an Entrepreneur level conversation full of the “what ifs” that they had earned throughout the day. What I found interesting is that they both immediately agreed that one of their divisions had one more chance to make it, or it would be sold or shut down. As I said- these are impressive clients who really take action!
One year Projections and Priorities including Critical Numbers. We invested 1.5 hours peeling back the layers on the 3-5 year projection and getting it aligned with the 1-year expectations. This section usually spins off a lot of “must-do’s” and “why-haven’t- we-done-that-yet’s”.
Summary, Agreement on Action Items - 30 minutes.
As you might imagine this piece of the meeting goes quickly and has a lot of energy. A good coach will always summarize a coaching session with “who will do what, by when?
Remember, we started at 8:30 and by this point it was 6 PM. So- we were at 9.5 hours including lunch. Since we have regular, weekly coaching meetings, we decided to move our open items into our regular meetings.
The open Items still remaining are - Quarterly Projections along with the Actions and Accountabilities. Our target is 1 hour to complete that.
Sound exhausting or sound exhilarating? If you’re considering having a strategic planning session make sure your coach is experienced, well trained and follows a system you believe in. Then- jump in!