My previous post discussed how I like to reflect and plan at the start of a new year. In the post I mentioned using a SWOT analysis to create SMART goals. This post aims to discuss what these models are and how they can help health and wellbeing practitioners.
A SWOT analysis can be comprehensive and cover your whole business. Otherwise it can be simple, focussing on one area of your business. As a visual person, I usually divide a large piece of paper into four with one heading in each box. If I can find someone to listen I like to bounce ideas around to help me fill the boxes. After they’re filled, I sometimes number the items in order of priority.
- Strengths – what do you or your business do well? What’s your unique selling point? What do you offer that your competitors don’t? What do your clients say about you?
- Weaknesses – What do you or your business struggle with? Where are you lacking in knowledge or skill? What advantage do your competitors have over you? Are you making enough profit? Is your client base big enough and/or growing? Is your brand working for you?
- Opportunities – What are the ongoing trends that you can take advantage of? Can you provide a service or product that fills a gap in the market? What do your clients want and need? What external changes can you take advantage of?
- Threats – What obstacles can you foresee? Will external changes impact you negatively? Are your clients and staff satisfied? Can you predict a change in consumer taste or trend?
I only recently started using SWOT analysis. I had heard of it on shows such as Drangon’s Den and for some reason this had led me to believe that my business wasn’t the type of business that needed one. However, I think the SWOT analysis can be a useful tool.
I use two types of SWOT; a business one and a personal one. They both follow the same model, but allow me to identify areas for improvement and risks for both the business and myself. My business SWOT encourages me to look at my competitors too, and to have an honest idea of where my business fits in the market.
After finishing a SWOT analysis, you should have a decent idea of areas for improvement. It’s easier to make improvements if you have clarity. I find SMART goals give me that clarity and also a plan. This multiplies my chances of actually making the improvement massively!
There are a couple of variations on the acronym but my preferred is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-based.
- Specific – needs to be well defined and clear. e.g. “to be able to walk to the shops” is better than “to get fit”
- Measurable – how will you know when you’ve achieved your goal? e.g. “to save £100/month” is better than “to save”
- Achievable – is it realistic with the resources, knowledge, and time you have available?
- Relevant – Is it appropriate for your business? Does it fit with your vision/mission statements and overarching aims?
- Time-based – When will you complete this goal by? You need to set aside enough time to complete the goal, but not so much that you lose motivation!
Again, I have a couple of uses for SMART goals. Firstly, I use them in the clinic to help my clients to plan lifestyle changes. Secondly, I use them for myself to achieve my goals. Lastly, I use them in my business to keep moving forward.
A Last Word
The SWOT analysis gives me a lens to look objectively at my business. Without this framework I might be biased towards the strengths and opportunities or the weaknesses and threats depending on my mood! It also allows me to easily share in depth information with mentors, associates, or peers easily. It can help me make huge decisions such as whether to continue a project or knock it on the head. The SWOT analysis is a particularly useful tool for those who tend to make decisions based on heart rather than head or who tend to make spontaneous choices. (There is nothing wrong with being emotion led or spontaneous but I find most business decisions come off best when head AND heart play a role!)
The SMART goals can then give a structure to apply your SWOT to. The SWOT finds areas for improvement, and the SMART tackles them. Although SMART goals help me to achieve, I can find it overwhelming if I set too many at once! I usually write out a whole list of general goals based on my SWOT or other reflections and then prioritise the list. Next I take the top priority goal and write it out as a SMART goal. I can then focus on this goal until it’s completed, and then work my way down the list.
SWOT and SMART are two models that I’ve found useful in business. If you have others to share I’d love to hear! Get in touch using the contact form or email firstname.lastname@example.org.