Business Planning: How to do a quick, thorough Strengths & Weaknesses Analysis

12/12/2014 | Roger and Susie Engelau

Taking time for business planning will yield higher profits for your business. It just will.  We’ve been exploring the components of Verne Harnish’s One-Page Strategic Business Planning tool—one of the most powerful business tools I’ve ever encountered. (You can get yours free here).

When I work with clients to do their business planning, often they run into trouble during the portion of the exercise that asks them to identify their company’s strengths and weaknesses.  Often it’s because looking head-on at strengths and weaknesses can be scary—getting real and honest about what’s going on in your business could mean that you have to make some changes.  And let’s face it: change stinks sometimes.

Of course, the alternative—doing the same things you’ve always done—will mean that you’ll get the same results you’ve always gotten.

The first step to getting real results

The 1st step in business planning means taking a good, hard look at where you are right now. And that’s what a thorough strengths and weaknesses analysis can do you for  you. Here are some ways to get started…

1.       Call up 5-7 of your best customers.  I’m talking about the ones that you wish you could replicate—they’re loyal, they pay on time, they’re just great to work with.  Ask them why they chose you.  Ask them why they stick with you.  Chances are, you’ll start to notice some trends: those are your strengths.

2.       Call up a few customers you’ve lost recently.  Next, it’s time for some less comfortable conversations—but if you dare to pick up the phone, you’ll get priceless information.  Call a handful of customers you’ve lost over the last year or two.  Ask them why they left.  Ask them what you could have done better.  It might be painful to hear, but so worth it.  Don’t get defensive; accept the feedback graciously and thank your former customers for their time. Chances are, you’ll start to notice some trends: those are your weaknesses.

3.       Do an internal review.  Pull out your organization chart.  Who are your star players?  Why are they so effective?  Areas where you excel are strengths.  On the other hand, do you notice some weak leaks in the chain?  Are there bottlenecks or departments that are less efficient?  These are weaknesses.

4.       Pay attention to the industry at large.  Now look outside yourself.  Pay attention to what’s happening in the marketplace.  What niche do you fill that your competitor don’t?  How are you unique from them?  Along the same lines, what do your competitors do better than you?  How are they positioned more advantageously in the marketplace in ways that you’re not? When my business coaching clients do this exercise,  every time they get an avalanche of ideas that will helps them improve their businesses. It’s really worth the small amount of time it takes.

If the day-to-day demands of your business interfere with your ability to take time out for business planning, come to my one-day Growth Plan Workshop on Jan. 9. Do your business planning with me and a group of like-minded business owners and leave with…

  • A vision for your business in the next 10-30 years
  • A 3-5 year plan, a 90-day plan, and a ready-to-implement weekly action plan to get you there
  • Energy, vision, and focus
  • Strategies to build profits immediately

…and watch your profits soar!  Register now for my Growth Plan Workshop—just $247 at the door, $187 in advance, and FREE for clients.  Right now I’m offering an Early Bird Special!  Enroll by 1-3-2015 for just $97.  (All registrations include a plated lunch)!