Dreams Meet Realitiy: Evaluating Strengths and Weaknesses

We entrepreneurs tend to be dreamers, and that is a critically-important attribute.  However, we get ourselves into trouble when we do not evaluate our selves, our opportunities and our small businesses in a realistic way. Thus, one of the most important sections of our Business Plan is a list of Strengths and Weaknesses.

We can have great Objectives, Strategies and Tactics in our Business Plan, but we need to identify: 1) the existing assets that will help us achieve our goals, and 2) the “holes” in our plan, along with 3) a plan for filling those holes. By identifying both strengths and weaknesses, we acknowledge that improvement is not only necessary, but possible. 

Strengths are resources. For example:

  • Product knowledge.
  • Managerial experience.
  • Existing demand for our products or services.
  • Production efficiencies.
  • Availability of skilled workers.
  • An extensive list of contacts with relevant expertise. 

Weaknesses are limitations. For example:

  • Lack of business experience.
  • Tough competitive environment.
  • Limited product line.
  • Insufficient physical space.
  • Limited working capital (i.e., investment money).

Over time, our weaknesses can become strengths through a variety of actions. For example, see how these weaknesses can be addressed.

Lack of business experience:

  • Improve our education – read, take local courses, learn from friends or relevant contacts.
  • Hire an experienced person.
  • Dive into on-the-job training.

Tough competitive environment.

Few buyers re-purchase.

  • Develop list of customers and market to them.
  • Expand the current product line (e.g., add-ons, product extensions, related services).

Insufficient physical space.

  • Seek new physical options.
  • Re-work the current space.
  • Allow workers to tele-commute.

Limited working capital (i.e., investment money).

  • Seek investors.
  • Slow your plans for growth.

Sometimes it is difficult to see our resources and limitations because we take them for granted. Brainstorm with someone who knows you well, who will be both honest and supportive. Develop a list to add to your Business Plan.

If you have employees, include them in this process. Focus on the importance of working together to strengthen the business for all. You’ll need to create an open environment by sharing some of your personal weaknesses. This should encourage them to do the same. Otherwise, the process can turn into destructive finger-pointing.

I am very thankful for the experience I had at L’eggs Products, where weaknesses were not hidden. For instance, a valued employee was put in charge of the warehouse, but had no distribution experience. His lack of experience was clearly listed as a weakness in the Annual Operating Plan, for all to see. The “fix” was for him to 1) work with a respected consultant, 2) get training at an industry seminar, 3) build an organization around him with experienced people, and 4) provide feedback opportunities for the workers to make suggestions for improvement. Within a year he was thriving in the job, as was the operation.

When we name our strengths, we are more likely to appreciate them and use them to our advantage. We can choose to consciously grow them in ways that enhance the business.

When we name our weaknesses, we can more easily eliminate or minimize them. If they are written down, we cannot overlook them to our detriment. What do you need to improve about yourself or your business in order to unleash your potential?


Until we meet again,

The Entrepreneur’s Friend

 


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The Entrepreneur’s Friend® is a registered trademark of Wheaton Consulting Group LLC.   Photo credits: All photos were taken by Cynthia Wheaton and owned by Wheaton Consulting Group LLC except as noted. Coffee cup art by Jim Wheaton.   Author support: Fellow authors from The Wrinklings and Light of Carolina Christian Writers Group.

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