Opportunities: Your Path to Growth

Small businesses have opportunities all around them. They might identify some, but are blind to other prospects that can create or maintain growth. A management consultant might help you uncover some of these areas. You can find directories of consultants from the Institute of Management Consultants USA.
Whether you do it yourself or enlist outside help, recognize your company has opportunities even in weakness. For example, a computer software company employs developers who lack needed certifications. Turn this weakness, which you identify in a SWOT analysis, into an opportunity by requiring employees to gain the certification.
Using the previous example, look at how recognizing a weakness and turning it into an opportunity can snowball into a whole lot more.
Step 1: The company pays for employees to become certified, increasing employee morale and production.
Step 2: A redo of print and digital marketing materials informs customers and prospects of your newly acquired expertise. Sales grow.
Step 3: After a survey of customers, the marketing department learns the biggest gripe is the website isn’t adapted for the smart phone, making it hard to read. An easy fix makes it look picture perfect. Now, customers don’t turn away from the website because they have difficulty reading it.
Step 4: The company develops a free app for smartphones, increasing the number of consumers who now learn they may also benefit from its software.
Step 5: A growing customer base and need for product gives the company pricing efficiencies. As a result, they lower costs for their product and put increased pressure on competitors.

Game Plan

  • Most weaknesses are internal, meaning your firm has the option to turn them into opportunities. As you correct or find ways to work around your weaknesses, update your SWOT analysis to reflect changes.
  • Always ask your customers how you can improve a product. Provide incentives to fill out periodic surveys by offering a free or discounted item.
  • Employees can sometimes see opportunity where company principals can’t. Consider a “best ideas” program, in which you reward employees for offering the greatest suggestions. These are ideas that can lower costs, find a better way to manufacture products or service clients, or suggest new and different ways to connect with customers.
  • Brainstorm with peer company movers and shakers. Establish a social media presence wherever your customers and peers congregate. Consider LinkedInFacebook, and more than a dozen other sites. Participate in groups or circles specific to your customers or peer group. This can open a new world of ideas.
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