Pete has been a plumber for 30 years. On the Good side, he has a long list of satisfied and loyal customers. He has a great reputation. On the Bad side, Pete is old-school: he does not have computers in his office, still advertises in the yellow pages, and does not know what social media is. Pete knows that some new developments are happening in his county and the developers are getting SBA loans. He also knows the local big-box retailer is reselling services from another plumber. Pete has unreliable cash flow and he senses that his competitors, as well as the industry as a whole, run their businesses more efficiently than he does. He thinks he cannot compete against younger plumbers. They use computers.
Pete needs a SWOT Analysis and can follow these questions:
- Strengths: What are you doing right?
- Weaknesses: What are you doing wrong?
- Opportunities: What deserves your time, energy, and attention?
- Threats: Where are you vulnerable?
Strengths and Weaknesses are opposite sides of the same coin.
Pete identifies these Strengths:
- Locally owned
- Great reputation
- Long list of satisfied clients
Pete identifies these Weaknesses:
- Social networking =?
- Yellow pages marketing
- No computers in the office
He can turn Weaknesses into Strengths. Pete does not utilize social networking. He thinks ads in the yellow pages will bring in new business. He has no computers. Pete needs to hire me.
Within a month, he can convert these Weaknesses into Strengths. He can have a decent social networking presence and understand how social networking will help him attract new customers and retain current customers. He can abandon the ineffective yellow pages ads. He can run his business more efficiently on a new, highly reliable computer network. He can do this work himself or he can contract out for it. Either way, Pete’s business will be stronger. Pete will have to find more Weaknesses that he can convert into Strengths.
Opportunities and Threats also warrant your attention. Pursue the opportunities—they won’t last forever. Somebody else may pursue the same opportunities you identify and gobble them up if you are too slow.
Pete identifies these Opportunities:
- New development
- Remodeling is on the upswing
- SBA loans
Pete knows developers are converting abandoned warehouses into residential lofts. Demand is strong; developers cannot complete these conversions fast enough. He knows developers are obtaining SBA loans to finance their projects. Pete can contact them for more work. They need plumbing subcontractors; a plumber with 30 years’ experience should fill that need.
Pete identifies these Threats:
- Big-box retailer has plumbers
- Others use computers
- Unreliable cash flow
Pete knows people are buying water heaters, refrigerators, freezers, washing machines, and dryers at the local big-box retailer. People ask for a good plumber and the retailer schedules a plumber to install the appliances. It’s not Pete. He also thinks his younger competitors run their businesses more efficiently because they have computers and better planning. This threatens Pete’s livelihood.
Pete realizes Opportunities are Threats that need 10 seconds of thinking. He can approach the big-box retailer and ask them to resell him. Pete has 30 years’ experience; the younger plumbers don’t. This Threat is actually a golden Opportunity.
Mark Anthony Germanos is the author of two books, Escape the Cubicle: How to leave your corporate or government job for something better and How to Make Computer Systems Work for You. He has faith in a slow but sure Sacramento business revival. Sacramento small business owners are leading the way. His second book, Escape the Cubicle, is for those who want to escape cubicle jobs and become successfully self-employed. Escape the Cubicle answers the questions: “How can I grow my business” and “How do I become my own boss.”
Mark is the President of Cameron Park Computer Services. As a business owner and computer networking consultant, he has seen habits that successful Sacramento small business owners embrace. He helps Sacramento small business owners embrace those habits to increase their profits, efficiency and happiness. An advocate of Sacramento business revival, Mark believes everybody should run their lives like a small business, perform SWOT Analyses and use social media campaigns to improve business. He used to say “social media is stupid.” That was until he attended a conference and saw how Sacramento small business owners can use social media campaigns as a valuable tool. Since then, he has earned more than $40,000 in business via social media. His Sacramento small business clients also have five-figure returns. Sacramento small business owners that launch social media campaigns give themselves a comparative advantage over those who lag behind. Mark does not do everything, but his clients do receive great results and participate in the Sacramento business revival when they follow his advice.
Mark moved from Chicago and restarted his business in California with a cell phone and a Honda Civic. An active triathlete, he has a life, a dream wife and a dog. For additional details, visit http://markanthonygermanos.com. Twitter: http://twitter.com/markgermanos. Facebook: http://facebook.com/markanthonygermanos. LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/markgermanos.