Six Steps to Strategic Planning Success – Business Threats

“To achieve results, one has to use all the available strengths–the strengths of associates, the strengths of the superior, and one’s own strengths” – Peter Drucker Many statements in this post are similar to the instructions for how to study your strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities. The process to study business threats is almost the same but with unique differences. The typical strategic planning SWOT analysis begins with your business strengths, weaknesses, opportunities then wraps up with the threats to your operation. This is where you will create a list of what potential threats there are to your thriving business. Note that where you think your company is threatened may be different from what you discover after this process. An excellent way to identify threats is to keep current on business news and events. Develop a daily habit of reading your local and national business news sources. Subscribe to business journals, blogs, and podcasts. Look back over the last twelve months and examine what events and elements are indicating growth trends. Look at your business from the view of your competitors. Consider these three areas to identify threats:
  1. Marketing – What new and aggressive marketing do you see from your competitors? What are they doing that you are not?
  2. Management – Which leaders in your organization are unhappy with their job or might have life changes that require them to leave your organization?
  3. Finances – What economic and investment trends show downward trends? What investments are at risk?
Remember that each of these discoveries should be so obvious that they jump out at you and your team when the question is presented. Lawyers use the term “res-ipsa”. It means that the observation is obvious or “on its face” clear. No further analysis needed. Traditional marketing may be dead but it is important for you to prove it to yourself. Study your competitor’s marketing efforts. What are they doing that you are not? Are your customers responding to the efforts of your competitors? Your management team is your greatest and most costly asset. Who in your team is your future leader? Who do they lead? Do you have any leaders who are unfulfilled in their work? What life events may dictate the relocation of valuable assets in your team? If you are running a for-profit business then a good way to identify great leaders is to examine where your profits are coming from. Conversely, identify unhappy leaders by studying underperforming areas. The bottom line in your operation is the financial outcome. Even non-profits cannot survive if they are losing money. Consider whether you are a good steward of your companies profits. Where did you miss opportunity to advance your cause? Consider conducting a 30, 60, 90, 180 day financial projection for each department of your business. A proper strategic plan is an excellent too ensure the longevity of your business. It all starts with an honest assessment of what you best.
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