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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

SWOT’S the Simple Answer to Your Business Plan?

What I'm reading: Les Miserables
What's on the iPod: All At Once by The Airborne Toxic Event

Oh, happy day!

I love it when you want to post your thoughts here. It's especially wonderful when someone with Cathy Miller's background asks. Cathy is a former career corporate type who hung out her shingle a few years back and has been kicking freelance ass and taking names ever since.

Cathy wanted to expand on the SWOT idea. Since she's a master at it, how could I refuse?

SWOT’s the Simple Answer to Your Business Plan? 

by Cathy Miller

When I saw Lori’s post, Business Planning: SWOT It Out, it was like running into an old friend you had not seen in a long time.

I first encountered SWOT analysis back in the 1980s. I’d like to say I was in pre-school, but let’s be real. The fact that Lori is writing about the technique today lends credibility to its effectiveness.

If I learned the method so long ago, and I think it’s a good one, then why am I not using it today? You probably do not want to hear an explanation for that one. Let’s just say I need to practice what I preach.

I offered Lori a guest post on a SWOT analysis of my 2013 business plan. There I go again. Biting off more than I can chew. I quickly discovered that I needed a smaller bite for my SWOT analysis. Well, that and the fact that I still have not finished my 2013 business plan.

I decided to pare the analysis down to a goal I have had for a few years – landing public speaking gigs.

SWOT Speak
As Lori explained in her post, SWOT is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Let’s review how I can use the method for developing my public speaking goal.

Strengths – My strength when it comes to public speaking is my experience. At least 25 of my 30+ years in my corporate career included public speaking. I discovered I have a bit of a ham inside me and am comfortable on stage. Go figure. Besides my speaking experience, I have other strengths, like I know a lot of stuff. Finally, a benefit to being older.

This exercise helped me identify strengths beyond the obvious – my healthcare niche, such as the following.
·        Management skills in leading teams, project management, HR-related activity
·        Writing skills, storytelling, creativity, PowerPoint skills
·         Communication skills, ability to make the complex simple
·         My sense of humor, people skills

There’s more, but I won’t bore you with my perfection.

Weaknesses – This area is what’s been stopping me from moving forward with this goal. The following are a few of the weaknesses that keep me from pursuing a public speaking platform.
  •  Lack of a hook – I need to zero in on what service would offer me the best opportunity
  • Procrastination – Have I mentioned that I wanted to move on this for years?
  • Lack of visibility – While I have a modest following, Casper-like visibility will not get the gigs.

I also struggle with deciding if I want to fall back on my healthcare niche (from 30+ years in the industry) or venture into some other area that capitalizes on the strength of my communications skills. That lack of identity is a major weakness.

Opportunities – I found this part of the analysis helped me define my “hook.” Here is a partial list.

  • Broad network from healthcare/insurance industry offers opportunity for my niche
  •  Health care reform is a huge unknown with lots of opportunity
  • Consumer education on wellness, health insurance exchanges could use simplicity
  •  Many in the brokerage community are redefining how they do business – it’s a new world for them
  • The breadth of required content in today’s marketing can be overwhelming to businesses – they need a simple solution to managing it all
The trick is converting those opportunities into something of value that businesses would pay for.

Threats – I am not the only one standing in my way for achieving my goal of public speaking.
  • Everybody and their brother (and sister) is an expert
  • Building content for “speaking cred” takes time – and a lot of it
  • Family commitments could limit engagements
The best thing about SWOT analysis is it takes the illusiveness of dreams and lines them with reality. Start with one dream and build on that. Discover what you need to star in your own reality.

This old friend gave me a plan. And that’s all we need to get started.

What dream of yours could benefit from a visit from SWOT?
Cathy has a business writing blog at Simply stated business, a health care blog at Simply stated health care and her personal bog, millercathy: A Baby Boomer's Second Life.


Cathy Miller said...


Thank you for the Opportunity to share Strengths and Weaknesses with no Threats of mockery (at least not out loud). :-)

Kimberly Ben said...

Excellent post, Cathy! Thank you for providing clear examples for each area of analysis - big help. :)

Cathy Miller said...

Thanks, Kimberly. I'm glad you found it helpful. :-)

Devon Ellington said...

I don't think you have to choose to go back to a niche or expand into something new. I think the more you diversify, the more flexible you are, the more opportunities you can both create and grab.

Cathy Miller said...

Hi Devon: I think that's very true for creating opportunities, but it seems to me that speaking engagements come from what you are known for. Could I stir up a gig for healthcare and one for communication? Probably, but I think that is tougher to do. I hear what you're saying. The more diversity - the more opportunities. I'm certainly open to the possibilities. :-)

Lori said...

Thanks for offering, Cathy. Love having your wisdom here. :)

Cathy Miller said...

My pleasure, Lori. I love playing the Emperor's New Clothes with your readers. :-)

Paula said...

Cathy, I think we all share that first threat. Finding the way to set ourselves apart is tricky, but look how successfully you, Lori, Jenn, Devon, Kimberly and Sharon (among many others) all have unique takes on writing.

And yes, your sense of humor is a great strength!

Cathy Miller said...

Thanks, Paula. I am a firm believer that we each have something unique to offer. Funny, how we sometimes struggle with what that might be. :-)

kristenjames said...

thanks for sharing SWOT factor for business as its important to know these points before planning business..looking forward to see more blogs

Go To Marketing Strategy said...

I am totally a believer in the concept of SWOT. It is totally realistic and works well.
I am glad that you shared this piece with us.

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