Building More: What S.W.O.T. Taught Me

Words: Corey Adams
Words: Corey Adams 
I admit, I have weaknesses. We all do. I know that many articles, blogs, consultants, and self-appointed gurus spend hours trying to convince you that they are the be all end all when it comes to business. News flash, I am not a panacea. All humans have weaknesses, and we all have strengths. As owners it is our job to identify these, and then put people in the best place to optimize their strengths and minimize the impact of their weaknesses. This includes ourselves.  Over the years I have learned many things. Some I forget immediately; some I take to heart. Then there are others that I wanted to ignore but kept coming back to. The magnetic attraction of these lessons forced me to reevaluate them and put them into action. One of these unavoidable lessons was S.W.O.T. S.W.O.T. is a method of analyzing four things that can make or break us. Not only as a company, but as individuals. The acronym stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. I sit down quite often to reflect on these four items. I try to improve my weaknesses, optimize my strengths, and be aware of the opportunities and threats that are in play.  Strengths: This one is hard. Maybe the hardest. I have always been a little nonchalant with my strengths. Anytime I would get a compliment I would downplay it, try to change the topic, or just ignore it. In fact, optimizing my strengths was a weakness of mine. It had to change. One of my strengths is articulation. Basically, I am good at taking a concept, project, solution, or theory and putting it into words that others understand. When I was approached by Masonry Magazine 4 years ago, I thought “Who would want to read my articles?” I had no idea that 4 years and over 30 articles would be received so well. I am forever grateful for it as well.  Weaknesses: One of my weaknesses is spending money. Yes, it sounds crazy, but if you know my father, you would understand I got it honestly. HAHA. I have always struggled to pull the trigger on opportunities, marketing budgets, or tools that we should have bought long ago.  I may never overcome this, but being aware of it allows me to at a minimum be mindful when faced with the situation.  Opportunities: Opportunities are presented daily. It is not just the 30 bid invites a day we receive, opportunities are everywhere. Crew production, equipment upgrades, diversifying revenue streams, and a countless list of opportunities ranging from small to life changing.  Threats: It is last, but definitely not least. We need to identify what threatens us. It, like opportunities, can have an infinite range. It could be a weakness, a competitor, a partner, a bad employee, a nightmare customer, or an aging fleet vehicle that could leave a crew stranded. Hell, it could even be ourselves. I know many owners whose biggest threat is themselves.  The S.W.O.T analysis should be completed on multiple levels as well. You should be running it for yourself, your company, and your employees. Completing this analysis is the only way to effectively plan for growth as a company, and as an individual.  Now, I caution that trying to turn individual weaknesses into strengths is a difficult, and sometimes impossible task. Being aware of the weakness most of the time is enough. You can plan around it, move an employee into a better position, or pass on a project that requires that weakness to be exposed.  There is no part of the S.W.O.T. analysis that is more important than the other. They weave a beautiful fabric that is the foundation for business and personal development.  If this is for yourself, your company, or an employee, the information is used the exact same way. Highlight strengths, minimize weakness exposure, match and act on opportunities, and address threats before they sink the ship.  I will say it is easier to do this analysis for employees than ourselves, but that is because we all have defense mechanisms that prevent us from self-reflection. The only way to accomplish this personally is with the one ingredient that is a hard pill to swallow for most, honesty to ourselves.
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