As a business owner, the success of your company rises and falls with you. Don’t get us wrong. Your team is probably the single most important resource in your business, but they can only execute as well – and as far – as you let them.
Key questions to consider:
- Are you helping your team to execute your business plan, or hindering them?
- Do you trust their abilities, or does everything need to run through you first?
- Do you let the person most qualified handle a task, or do you manage it yourself, even if it’s not your area of expertise?
A personal SWOT analysis, which lists your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) is an excellent way to get to know yourself, your strengths and weaknesses – and most importantly, to help you determine where you are adding value to your business, and where you might be doing damage.
Do you have entrepreneurial DNA?
Before we begin the analysis itself and you complete the attached worksheet, let’s dive into the idea of entrepreneurial DNA.
Is it important? Are entrepreneurs born or are they made? This has been a topic of debate for decades, but the general consensus lies within this quote from Peter Drucker: “Entrepreneurship is neither a science nor an art. It is a practice.”
Drucker, who is considered to be the father of business management thinking, is making a clear and simple point: Anyone can be an entrepreneur. You just have to be willing to work at it. And that begins with yourself.
What type of entrepreneur are you?
There are a number of different ‘categories’ that entrepreneurs broadly fit into, from survivalists all the way to disruptors like Elon Musk.
Determining where you fit in is important for two key reasons:
- You can determine if this is the type of entrepreneur you want to be, and if it aligns with your needs, goals and values
- You can analyse yourself and conduct your SWOT analysis in line with the type of business you are building and running.
A survivalist is a business owner who lives ‘hand to mouth’ or ‘month by month’. These business owners struggle to make ends meet and aren’t able to grow because they can’t invest in additional people, space, products or marketing. They enter the business world out of necessity and often operate in very crowded markets where there was a low barrier to entry (in other words, specialist skills or products were not required).
An opportunist is an entrepreneur who enters a sector looking to capitalize on a specific trend or market condition. These business owners want to get fast ideas off the ground as quickly as possible, but aren’t necessarily focused on long-term growth. They are more interested in how quickly they can make money. These businesses are often side hustles or part-time ventures.
Lifestyle entrepreneurs are attracted by the flexibility, independence and the opportunity to build wealth that owning a business offers. They aren’t looking to build a large business, but they do want their businesses to be as successful and profitable as possible, within a manageable size and market. They can be owner-operators who work in the business, or hands off, as is the case with some franchisees.
Growth entrepreneurs and disruptors are focused on scaling the business and making it as large as possible. Over the course of this journey, their skill sets will need to change dramatically and they will bring senior managers on board. They tend to live for their businesses, and don’t have a large amount of personal time available.
Why is all of this important? Let’s use our lifestyle entrepreneur as an example. Lifestyle entrepreneurs might not be interested in large-scale growth, but they do still need to run successful and profitable businesses if they are going to tick the boxes of independence, flexibility and supporting a family’s lifestyle.
They are the ‘secret sauce’ in their companies, but they can also be the block that’s hindering further success and growth.
Similarly, if your goal is to be a growth entrepreneur, living as a lifestyle entrepreneur might not satisfy you. On the other hand, many business owners chase growth, only to discover they were far happier as lifestyle entrepreneurs.
The lesson? You need to know yourself to know what type of business you can – and should – by building.
Key questions to consider:
- What type of business do you currently have?
- What is your ideal business based on the list above?
- What is stopping you for building that business?
Balancing personal and business time
Once you understand what type of business you want to build, you can start determining how you should be using your time.
Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin group of companies, has famously said that, “Business and awards don’t mean that much. There is nothing more important than the health of you and your loved ones. Life is certainly too short not to appreciate people who have been significant in it.”
The key is finding balance – although balance might not mean what you think it does in this context.
Anyone who has built a business knows that some days your business requires 20 hours from you, and others you can get away with putting in only eight hours. So, where’s the balance in that?
Successful entrepreneurs have found that there a few ways to get the most from a resource that is finite.
- Be fully present in whatever you’re doing. This is the balance we spoke of earlier. You won’t always be able to give your business and family the same attention, so make sure you’re fully present when you’re working on your business, and similarly, fully present when you’re with your family. They might get fewer hours with you than you’d all like, but they’ll be valuable hours.
- Use time blocking techniques. Humans tend to be incredibly unproductive and this is often the result of interruptions. We’re so busy trying to multi-task and do everything at once that the result is the opposite – we get very little done. One solution to this is time-blocking – setting time in your calendar for key tasks and then shutting off your emails and muting your phone to ensure no interruptions. Try to block out at least three hours a day (preferably the first three hours, before your day gets derailed). You’ll be amazed how much more you’ll get done each day.
- Eat the frog. There is no nice or tasty way to eat a frog. You just have to do it. Difficult tasks are the same. Instead of putting them off, make sure they are the first thing you tackle each morning. Get them out of the way and your mind will be clearer and more focused because you aren’t putting off an unpleasant task.
Personal financial planning
When we talk about start-ups and even mature businesses, we tend to focus on the business’s finances instead of also looking at the business owner’s personal finances.
Your business is your core income generator. How you think about money, how financially stable you are, how you spend money and your long-term financial goals all impact you – which means they impact your business as well.
As a general rule of thumb, if your personal finances are out of kilter, your business financials will be too. Experts advise that it’s a good idea to focus on the health of your personal finances for three key reasons:
- It’s good for your business. The more stable you are financially, the more you can focus on the business’s growth and re-invest any profits back into the business. If you’re not personally financially stable, you’re more likely to dip into company funds, which could harm your business in the long-term.
- You’ll keep things lean and profitable. Financially conservative people in their personal lives tend to be financially conservative in their businesses as well. You don’t want to be so frugal that your business doesn’t grow, operations are hampered or you aren’t delivering a quality product or service to your customers, but running a lean business that keeps an eye on the costs just makes good business sense. (link to business financials article)
- You’ll have a good understanding of your long-term goals. Once you know what you want your life to look like (long-term and short-term), you can start to build a business that can deliver on those needs and goals.
The importance of upskilling
The entrepreneurial journey is just that – a journey. As you launch, build and grow a business, it’s not only your company that needs to evolve. As the business owner, you need to keep moving forward and growing as well.
Here are three reasons why:
- Markets keep changing. If you aren’t on top of the market, sector and industry you’re operating within (including any industries that could move into your sector), a competitor might come from out of nowhere to disrupt your market share.
- Your business’s needs will shift. As a business owner you need to stay on top of strategy, operations, product innovation and a host of other things that will keep your company relevant and competitive. This requires an ever-shifting set of skills. The challenge is that it’s difficult to know what you don’t know – unless you are constantly focused on upskilling yourself.
- No is everything to everyone. When you launched your business, you did so with a particular skill or industry knowledge that propelled your growth. However, while most entrepreneurs wear many (if not all) of the hats in their businesses at first, no one is an expert in everything. As your business grows, you can expand your skillset to encompass areas that aren’t in your wheelhouse. This doesn’t mean you should personally hold every role in your business, but it will give you a keen insight into how every aspect of your organisation is performing.
Key mistakes to avoid
The entrepreneurial journey is littered with mistakes and failures. There’s nothing wrong with failing – in fact, failure teaches you critical business lessons. However, because you are going to face some tough challenges as you build your business, and you will fail along the way, the more mistakes you can avoid by learning from others, the better.
- Understanding your core skills and where your gaps lie is a great place to start, as getting this right will effectively protect you from making other mistakes as well.
- A business owner who understands their strengths and where they have gaps can hire key people to fill those gaps – individuals who either love the work or have deep expertise in it.
- Too many business owners hold onto roles they either dislike or aren’t good at because they think they need to be everything to everyone. Rather focus on your strengths – the magic that you bring to the table, and which lies at the heart of your business.
- Getting the right experts on board can only drive your business forward – particularly if they are as passionate as you.
- Finally, don’t be scared to get reflective or to start working with a life or business coach. Your business is an extension of you – if you want it to succeed, you need to begin with yourself.
Create your personal SWOT analysis
What it is
A SWOT analysis stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.
How it works
Before you begin: You need to be as honest as possible – this exercise is only for you, and is designed to help you determine where you should be focusing your energy, and where it might not be important to focus your energy.
Your goal is to list a series of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats that will help you plot a personal development plan, perhaps hire additional employees in key areas, and even give you direction to work on with a coach.
To help you get started, we have created a series of questions that you can answer in each key area, but you can also add any additional topics or characteristics that you believe are relevant.
- What skills, experience or talents do you bring to your business, clients and sector?
- Who is in your network that are particularly relevant given what you do?
- If your clients listed your personal strengths and why they like working with you, what would they say?
- If they listed your company’s strengths because of you, what would they say?
- What achievements are you most proud of (these can be personal or business-related).
Note: Strengths are interesting because we tend to take them for granted and we don’t work on them. However, by giving them more of your time and even upskilling in an area that you already excel at, you could have a much bigger impact on your life and business than if you focus all of your energy on a weakness, only to move the needle by a small percentage.
- What skills or qualifications don’t you have that could be a benefit in your industry?
- If your clients listed your weaknesses, what would they say?
- If your team/employees listed your weaknesses, what would they say?
- What personality traits do you have that could be perceived as negative in the workplace?
- Do you avoid doing things because you lack confidence or because you fear the outcome?
- If your managers or co-workers listed your weaknesses, what would they say?
- Are there other verticals or markets that could benefit from your solutions?
- Do you have a particular skill or talent is that currently in demand – perhaps also in a different industry?
- Are there pockets of growth within your industry that you can leverage?
- What opportunities lie within your networks, fellow business owners and client base?
- What’s keeping your clients up at night?
- What obstacles are you currently facing?
- What keeps you up at night?
- What’s keeping your employees up at night?
- Who are your competitors – both in your industry and in other industries competing for the same budgets?
- Is your leadership style supporting the growth of your employees or stifling them?
- Have you embraced technology? If not, how is this holding your business back?