Posts filed under ‘Plan It’

SWOT’s It All About? (FREE Download)

Last week, in four parts, we created a SWOT analysis by defining the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and  Threats to your business.  One final step is necessary in putting the SWOT information together.  An analysis is only valuable if you put a plan into place. In this last step you will create a list of strategies for your business.  In this last step we’ll take a look at how we can:

  • maximize our strengths to take advantage of opportunities: Strength-Opportunity Strategies (SO Strategies)
  • use our strengths to minimize the threats to our business: Strength-Threat Strategies (ST Strategies)
  • use opportunities to lessen  weaknesses: Weakness-Opportunity Strategies (WO Strategies)
  • mitigate the weaknesses in light of impending threats: Weakness-Threat Strategies (WT Strategies)

Here is a matrix for a Wedding Florist Business to help you see how all of these details fit together:


Here are a few observations:

  • See how we’ve lined up our niche strengths (unique floral design) to take advantage of opportunities (submitting photos to that new magazine)?
  • Notice how we’re beefing up our strengths (strong customer service) to work around the threats (increased competition)?
  • Do you see how we are taking advantage of external opportunities (cost of rent and real estate is dropping) to lessen the weaknesses (high overhead)?
  • Observe how we can mitigate the weaknesses (no blog; start a blog) to adjust for threats (advertising costs are rising)?

In Summary

The SWOT is a very powerful tool in identifying the internal and external factors that affect our business.  I find it useful to do one every 6 months.  Some of the factors don’t always change so a working word or excel document can be helpful in analyzing the constant and/or dynamic aspects of your business.  The final piece, putting a strategy in place, is helpful in determining short and long term goals for your business.  All of the SO, ST, WO, WT strategies can be put into your 1-10 year goal sheet, and into your business plan.

Do you like this? We love feedback… let us know in our SWP Survey.  And, if you love it, feel free to DOWNLOAD this here: SWOTAnalysis.

Here is a matrix for a Wedding Florist Business to help you see how all of these details fit together:

August 10, 2009 at 6:00 am 1 comment

Insider to Insider: David and Corbin Baxter, Owners of Soulbox Productions

David & Corbin Baxter

Photo courtesy of Sil Azevedo, Azevedo Photography

This week’s Insider Interview is brought to you by Kelly Simants.  She met with David and Corbin Baxter of Soulbox Productions a few months ago and was wowed by their energy and enthusiasm.  She loves how open the videographers are to share with people in the industry. David and Corbin started their business in 2001 when they wrote, directed, and filmed a feature length film.  They began filming weddings full time in 2004.  I love what they have to say about their clientele: “It is amazing to us that our clients are just like us.  They find us through our work: creative, energetic, carefree, organized, and detail-oriented.”  This is so relateable.  They have managed to give prospective clients a taste of what it’s like to work with them.  Brilliant!  Here are more brilliant thoughts from David and Corbin.

David & Corbin Baxter
Owners, Soulbox Productions
Dallas, TX
Established 2001

What is your favorite thing about weddings?

Capturing once in a lifetime moments for our wonderful couples. We’re so lucky that we’ve built so many great relationships, we absolutely love what we do!

What is your best tip for time management?

Make attainable yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily goals. Corbin and I set priorities and accomplish them as efficiently as possible. For example, we pride ourselves on replying to inquiries within 24 hours.

What is your little marketing secret?

Network, network, network. Corbin and I are both advertising majors and so it was a surprise to us in the beginning that building relationships with your clients and other wedding vendors is by far the best marketing.

What is the funnest (most fun) trend you are seeing in the industry?

Well, we’re going to be a little biased on this one and say anything vintage: cars, dresses, veils, invitations and for us, true super 8mm film coverage.

If you were starting your business all over again, what would you have done differently?

Started filming weddings in super 8mm from the beginning. We had Corbin’s father’s super 8mm camera for 5 years and didn’t even know it.

Thanks David & Corbin!

August 7, 2009 at 6:00 am Leave a comment

SWOT Analysis: Defining the Threats for your Business

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Creative Commons License

Today is the T day of our SWOT Analysis.  We have defined the Strengths, Weaknesses, and Opportunities.  Today, we’ll be defining the Threats to our business.  Threats come from outside factors to your business.  It is useful in identifying the threats to your business so that you can be watchful and aware of them.  Knowing your threats will help you make better business decisions.

Take 15-30 minutes today to work on defining the threats to your business.  These are the challenges you will face along the way.  Here are some helpful questions and tips for defining your business threats:

  • Look at the economic, social, and political climate. How can changes in these factors present threats to your business?
  • What is happening within the wedding industry?  Are there changes that could be challenges to your business?
  • Talk about other professionals in your segment (both your competitors, and your non-competitors).  Do they present any threats in market share?
  • Is anything happening locally that could affect your business negatively?  Nationally? Internationally?
  • What are the market trends?  Are they moving with your business or in another direction?
  • Are there any economic factors that affect your suppliers?  How can these factors present a threat to your business?
  • Is your reputation at risk in any way?

Those are some scary questions, aren’t they?  But, it feels better knowing the imminent threats to my business.  It helps me understand where I need to go and how I can change my business to adjust for those threats.

On Monday, we’ll tie it all together.  We’ll take a look at what to do with all this great information.  Come back to the blog tomorrow for another awesome industry insider!

August 6, 2009 at 7:00 am 2 comments

SWOT analysis: Defining the Opportunities for your Business

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This week, we are working on the SWOT analysis for your business.  This exercise will give you a chance, to identify Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.  Today, we are going to uncover the opportunities outside of your business.  If you’ll remember from our discussion on Monday, your opportunities and threats come from outside factors affecting your business.

Take 15-30 minutes today to work on defining the opportunities for your business.  These are the “places you will go” and “things you can do” with your business.  Here are some things to think about while working on your opportunities:

  • Look at the economic, social, and political climate.  How can changes in these factors define opportunities for your business?
  • What trends are happening in the market?  How can your business fit into these trends?
  • What opportunities are there within your market segment?  In your local market?  At the national level?
  • What relationships can you build upon?
  • What investments can you build upon?  Investments can be those made into equipments, supplies, inventory – or – advertising, promotion, public relations.
  • Where do you see lemons?  Can you make lemonade?
  • Where do you find a challenge at the consumer level?  Can you create a solution?

Ahhhh… fun!  Are you starting to see it all come together?  Are you starting to be abuzz with ideas?  There’s a whole world out there, and the SWOT Analysis is very helpful in helping you find it.

August 5, 2009 at 6:00 am Leave a comment

SWOT analysis: Defining the Weaknesses of your Business

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This week, we are writing a SWOT analysis.  We are defining the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats of our Business.  I find this exercise extremely useful in taking the temperature of my business.

Take 15-30 minutes today to write about the weaknesses of your business.  This can be challenging because it forces you to face some of the thoughts you may be avoiding.  Remember that by recognizing your weakness, you can build strength.  Here are some thoughts to help you determine these weaknesses:

  • What are the things holding your business back?  holding you back?
  • What is unhealthy about your business?
  • What are the struggles that your business has and that are difficult to overcome?
  • What are your daily challenges?  your larger challenges?
  • What are your sources of frustration?
  • What negatively impacts your relationships with vendors, clients, and/or employees?

Spend some time dreaming about the things you’d love to improve about your business.  We’ll summarize the entire SWOT analysis at the end of the week.

August 4, 2009 at 6:00 am 2 comments

SWOT Analysis: Defining the Strengths of your Business

This week we are going to do a SWOT Analysis of your business.  This is a helpful tool in which you take a step back to examine key characteristics of your business.  This is a strategic analysis that is done in all businesses of all sizes: small sole proprietorships on up to Fortune 500 organizations.  I encourage all businesses in the wedding industry to do this twice a year. It’s great at quickly assessing:

  • whether you are moving in the right direction or not
  • what is AWESOME about your business
  • what needs to be changed and improved
  • what external factors (trends, economics, politics) affect your business

SWOT Analysis

The SWOT breaks down into two components, of two parts each (four parts total):

Internal Factors:

  • Stengths – the strengths of your business, IN your business
  • Weaknesses – the weaknesses of your business, IN your business

External Factors:

  • Opportunities – opportunities for your business, OUTSIDE of your business
  • Threats – threats for your business, OUTSIDE of your business
Creative Commons License: Xhienne

Creative Commons License: Xhienne

Define the Strengths of your Business

Take 15-30 minutes today to write down the strengths of your business.  Be honest and realistic.  This is to be used to help you make decisions about the health of your organization.  Here are some things to think about when defining your strengths:

  • How is your business different from others?
  • What are the intangible assets (people, experience, knowledge) and tangible assets (office, equipment) that makes your business strong?
  • What do you personally bring to your business?  What do your employees bring?
  • What are some of the achievements your business has had in the last year?
  • How is your business perceived within the wedding industry?  What is its reputation?  What is your reputation?

Hold onto these strengths, we’ll be putting it all together at the end of this week.

August 3, 2009 at 7:00 am 9 comments

Profit Lessons I’ve Learned…

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This week, I’m sharing lessons that I’ve learned during my five years as a small business owner.  On Tuesday, we discussed Productivity Lessons.  Yesterday, we talked about People Lessons.  Today, we are going to break down Profit Lessons I’ve learned.  These are the lessons I’ve learned about business finances.

1 – Find a System that Works for YOU!

A lot of people’s accounting problems stem from disorganization of paperwork.  You need to find a system for keeping receipts, invoices, and statements nice and neat.  We’ll be having a series on organization, so I won’t delve into that too much.  But, think about how you are going to keep everything in one place.  Will you use file folders labeled alphabetically? By month?  How often will you sit down to do your accounting?  Will it be weekly? Monthly?  Can you commit yourself to a day and time systematically?  What software will you use?  What is working with your current system?  What is not?  The more disciplined you are with your organization and your tracking, the easier your accounting will be.

2 – Know your Numbers

I’m going to say it again: hire an accountant for the dirty work (taxes and complicated accounting issues).  But, KNOW your numbers!  If you aren’t on top of your dollars and cents, then you aren’t on top of your business.  Take time to learn the basics of how money flows in and out of your business.  You are a business owner first and a (    fill in the blank     ) second (in my case invitation designer.)  It’s understandable that you may not feel comfortable with numbers (many people aren’t) but you can educate yourself.  That is the beauty of the world we live in!  Take a class; read a book.  Learn what the numbers are telling you.

3 – Take Care of Yourself

I’m going to share with you one of the mistakes I’ve made as a small business owner.  In my third year in business, I made the leap to move my business out of my home and into a beautiful studio in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle.  I LOVE my space.  In my eagerness it the beautiful office that it is, I reinvested most of my income back into the business.  After all, that’s what all small business do, don’t they?  They pour their money right back into the business so that they can grow organically, right?  Well, not necessarily.  First, they take care of themselves.  You must pay yourself, and save for a rainy day.  Then they invest in their business.  If you can’t do this, then rethink your strategy (hint: look at your numbers)

4 – Cash is King

Now, more than ever, we realize what this means.  In this economy, the businesses that have the cash are the ones that will make it through.  If your cash is tied up in making debt (credit line, business cards, loans) payments every month, then you are going to have a tough time investing in yourself and the business.  What I’ve taken from the 2009 recession is that whenever I have an opportunity to squirrel away some cash I do.  A few weeks ago, I had 4 nice contracts come in completely unexpected (they were all last minute fall weddings – yahoo!)  Since I hadn’t planned for that, that money is serving as a cushion for any unexpected slow-down in the months to come.  This recession is not over.  So, when you get those little windfalls, squirrel it away.

5 – A Tax Deduction = Business Expense = Less Income = Not Always a Good Thing

Be very careful with thinking that business expenses are a good thing.  Yes, you get a deduction from the IRS.  But, this is still a hit towards the profitability of your business.  And, if your business is not profitable you won’t be in business long.  I see too many small business owners charging dinners and networking events with the thought that “this is a tax write-off”.  The next thing I hear is that they are having problems paying their rent.  And, the government isn’t going to give you a refund big enough to make up for that.

And, with that… may you prosper!

July 23, 2009 at 6:00 am 3 comments

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