The first step to building an effective and long-lasting strategy is identifying where you are.
The key to successfully identifying areas for development is a comprehensive assessment of where you currently are as an organization, identifying where you would like to be at a specified time, then coming up with a strategy on how to get there.
What is your starting point? For example, when you are following a map, the first place you identify is where you are at that exact time. When you are evaluating your current position in business, you carry out a SWOT analysis.
SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. When you know what your capabilities are, where you could use more work, where your vulnerabilities lie and what opportunities you can exploit in the market, you can take the necessary steps to design a strategy for growth that works.
You know the saying ‘Data is king?’ It stands true. One of the most critical benefits of data is transforming and aiding decision-making processes. You have to dig deep to find internal and external data you can leverage for your growth. Internal data pertains to factors within your organization that contribute to its success. External factors are circumstances outside of your control that affect your business.
Strengths are what your company does well that you can capitalize on to achieve maximum potential. Your strengths are your competitive advantages and will be critical in building a growth strategy.
For example, let us say your customers are impressed by your delivery times. If you were delivering goods within seven days, how can you transform your processes, so turnaround time is reduced to three days?
To find your core competencies, evaluate your company by department and look for strengths in each one. If there isn’t one in a given department, don’t fret or force it. The key is to be critical and objective.
Also consider the company as a whole: what about your team is greater than the sum of its parts?
Weaknesses are internal obstacles that restrict or disrupt your desired future state. This is one of the daunting parts of a SWOT analysis because it requires objectivity and brutal honesty. No one likes to admit that they are lacking. But if you can look at your business through the lens of an outsider, you can pinpoint areas that may be causing you to lag behind.
When you know your weaknesses, you can identify where they stem from and how to address them. Remember, ALL companies have weaknesses, including your biggest competitor. A weakness may be a tradeoff to a core strength, or indicative of where you are in your company maturity.
Opportunities are external influences where your organization is better positioned to act upon and benefit. You need to gather and understand past, present and future trends and how you can leverage them to get ahead of your competitors—the current economic state, political state, supply chain, and financial markets, among others.
Another tip is to look at customer feedback. What services do your customers wish you provided? Are you in a place to offer them, and if not, how can you make it possible in the shortest time before a competitor beats you to it?
Threats are external forces that can negatively affect your organization. Although threats are out of your control, you can find ways to mitigate their effect and prepare contingency plans. These can include global supply chain issues, labor market issues, and changes in technology.
Once you have completed every stage of the SWOT analysis, don’t sit back and relax. You are just getting started. The next step is to find how each strength, weakness, threat or opportunity fits into your strategy.
Strengths are opportunities to create actionable steps to pursuing your firm’s full potential.
When you break down your strategy, it is much easier to come up with solutions that will eventually propel your firm to the growth you envision.
Are you a ‘’strategy newbie’’ or the kind of strategist who is good at carrying out a SWOT analysis but unsure about the next stage and implementation? Strategypoint has got you covered. With our planning templates, you can add team members, create interrelated goals, and guarantee that all work is aligned with the strategy. You can also authorize everyone to see their valuable contribution to the vision while receiving advice and expertise on your project.
Strategypoint is a simple, flexible, and customizable strategy software that encompasses all mainstream strategy management core aspects and arms you with the tools to leverage all these elements for business growth.
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