I am running a business too, and run SWOT Analyses on my business from time to time. Here’s what I wrote in a previous SWOT Analysis for my business.
- Loyal customers
- Great reputation
- Respected social media presence
- No Macintosh training or support
- One-man show
- Vulnerable to customers’ cash flow challenges
- Lawyer customer wants to change his Internet access and phone system to reduce costs
- Restaurant franchisee customer needs a new notebook computer
- Seven speeches scheduled in the next seven weeks. Great opportunity for new customers
- Local corporations are downsizing. Former staffers feel they can enter my niche and target my customers.
- Cloud technologies are becoming more commonplace. People think they can move to the cloud with no outside help.
- Social media is becoming more commonplace. People think they can establish their social media presence with no outside help.
I listed “one-man show” as a Weakness. That can be a Weakness or a Strength. It’s a Weakness because people know that I don’t always answer the phone. Sometimes I’m driving. Sometimes I’m giving speeches. Sometimes I’m in meetings. I cannot promise that callers will not go to voicemail. This is also a Strength. I am free from paying FICA, unemployment, and health insurance for people who could depend on me for a living. I don’t have the pressure of meeting payroll. I can take a two-hour lunch and attend yoga. I’m the boss. I am also free from the office politics that drove me away from my last cubicle job. Weaknesses may really be Strengths—it is open to perception.
I listed “local corporations are downsizing” as a Threat. Here in the Sacramento market, Apple, Hewlett-Packard, and Intel all have a large presence. They hire staffers en masse when the economy is good and they fire en masse when it isn’t. The extremes are pretty visible. The 2008-2010 downswing left a lot of people shocked and unemployed. Seeing that they worked for a technology company, they felt they could do some consulting until their corporation rehired them. They printed business cards, knocked on doors, and told people, “Hi. I used to work for ***. You should hire me to run your network. I will beat anybody’s price.” They are desperate, so they price their services below market rates.
I initially thought this was a Threat. I now view it as an Opportunity. These low-ballers are merely waiting for the corporation to call. When that happens, the low-ballers will abandon the customers they have accumulated and return to the corporate 9-5 job. I tell my customers this and remind them I’ve been consulting in Sacramento since 2001. I will remain loyal to my customers no matter what happens in the economy, and am not waiting for a corporation to rehire me.
I listed “cloud technologies are becoming more commonplace” as a Threat. Remember what I said about Threats needing 10 seconds of thinking to become Opportunities? Promoting the cloud is easier compared to this time last year. When computer people say “the cloud,” they are talking about running services and storing data offsite. Web sites that sell goods and services reside in the cloud. Most e-mail resides in the cloud. Your cell phone network resides in the cloud. People see “to the cloud” commercials during Sunday football games. They know friends are moving their businesses to the cloud. They read reports explaining that when you move to the cloud, “everything works, your data is available from anywhere, and the cost is usually less.” My work is easier. I don’t have to educate as much.
I listed “social media is becoming more commonplace” as a Threat. This may really be an Opportunity. People see ads promoting company pages at Facebook and Twitter. They know advertisers are abandoning phonebook, newspaper, and magazine ads for something better. They read reports that Facebook’s founder gave $100 million to Newark, New Jersey’s school system.[i] People want to become literate with social media. I see a demand here similar to the demand when web sites were becoming commonplace and “everybody” wanted a web site yesterday.
I’m a big advocate of SWOT Analyses. I see successful customers asking the right questions and making smart decisions, but I also see failing customers who don’t even ask decent questions. SWOT can help both types of customers. I showed you Pete’s, Daphne’s, and my SWOT Analyses. In the next blog post, it will be your turn.
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.