Understanding Your Company's Strengths and Weaknesses

As a business leader, can you objectively assess your company’s strongest points, as well as its weaknesses? This isn’t as simple as it may appear since everyone’s perspective is clouded by preconceptions, biases, hopes and other factors—sometimes making it difficult to grasp just where a business stands in the marketplace.

Here at Baillie Lumber, we work hard to evaluate the many elements that go into our company’s success. If and when a project or sales deal doesn’t go as planned, we try to objectively analyze what happened and learn from our mistakes. Just as importantly, when we’re doing things right, we strive for a comprehensive understanding of the process so we can apply the same principles in the future.  DSC7356

Any objective understanding of strengths and weaknesses starts with a SWOT analysis: 





This exercise balances a comparison between external and internal factors. External factors generally encompass economic trends, sources of funding, customer demographics, vendor relationships, and political or environmental legislation. Internal factors cover human resources, finances, facilities, and business operations and processes. 

What is a SWOT analysis? 

A SWOT analysis offers “a detailed, unbiased overview of your business as a whole,” while also training you and your team to “consider every factor that could possibly affect your project or business,” notes Business.com.  

Who’s best equipped to undertake a thorough SWOT analysis? Leaders within a business are an obvious choice, but the selection process shouldn’t stop there. A more effective approach involves getting input from others. 

In building a SWOT analysis, “ask for input from a variety of team members and openly discuss any contributions made,” writes Business News Daily. The team’s “collective knowledge … will allow you to adequately analyze your business from all sides.” 

Key parts of a SWOT analysis 

This analysis should focus on: 

Strengths. Look closely at all aspects of the business, from organizational structure to employee training and company culture. How competitive is are you in the marketplace? Are you ahead of the market in new product development? Do you have a strong, engaged workforce?

For us this could be assessing the strength of our leadership team at our sawmills and yards, or our determination to continually improve our offerings or facilities, like the improvements in our Walnut for example. 

Weaknesses. The term “weakness” can be a bit misleading since it’s really often a warning signal letting you know something needs to be addressed. Areas of weakness might include those mentioned above under “strengths” (if your analysis indicates these efforts are lacking), or in some other areas of operations. 

Pinpoint weaknesses, and then “avoid them or work to improve those facets of your company,” notes The Hartford Business Owner’s Playbook, adding that “one magnified weakness can bring a firm to its knees.” 

Opportunities. Part of the fun of a SWOT analysis is discovering new opportunities for growth and expansion you might not have considered before. Think about how your products or services fare in the marketplace. If you already have a competitive advantage, what can you do to build more awareness of your brand and reach more prospective customers? What about expanding into new markets? Approached objectively, any number of opportunities may present themselves. 

Threats. Business owners caught up in the heated life of daily operations are sometimes slow to detect threats in their midst. A careful SWOT analysis looks at a range of possibilities—everything from a looming spike in employee turnover to the appearance of a strong competitor to your business. Identifying possible threats can dramatically influence the way you strategize for 2020 and beyond. 

No business can afford to rest on its laurels. Knowing its strengths and weaknesses, its opportunities and threats provides a clear, focused view on what to do now and in the months and years to come. 

Brett Del Prince
Baillie Lumber
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