I’ve fussed and fretted over whether or not to use SWOT analysis as the lead-off to personal strategic thinking and planning. It has been a standard process in business, marketing and personal development for a long time. But there are pros and cons.
SWOT is an acronym meaning strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. It makes sense that we should consider all these things first. But I worry too much that the weaknesses and threats may interfere with our ability to dream big. Remember, I’m calling this phase strategic thinking and I’m encouraging you to think big and without bounds.
For corporations, the four SWOT terms are unemotional. But at the personal level, they are very emotional! And they are fundamental. We need to be aware of weaknesses and threats from the very beginning; but as challenges to be met, not obstructions to be feared.
To tell you the truth, when I examined my weaknesses and threats and compared them to the grand scale of my intentions to reinvent the business model, save capitalism and provide opportunity for all . . . well, I was more than overwhelmed, I was terrified!
But when I put it all in perspective, I realized I was thinking way beyond my starting point. I know I’ll never reach the big picture without help, but I have to start somewhere. Faced with reality, I need to have the courage to think big but start small. At this point I needed to remind myself that my strategic thinking is only the first step in a grand vision. I am just a company of one. My first steps will be as a solopreneur, not as the aspiring world champion.
I am an amateur tennis player and student of the game. I know the drill. Believe in yourself. Keep your eye on the ball. Keep your mind on the next point, the next game, the next set and finally . . . match point. Keep those negative thoughts out of your mind! Learn from the negatives, turn them into positives. Stay focused! Persevere!
Do I have the strengths?
And do I have the opportunity to develop a free online course to help ordinary people fight economic injustice as it is at the grassroots level?
You bet I do!
And can such a course lead to a revolutionary new business model that will save capitalism, change economics and create opportunities for a fair share of the wealth for the many not the few?
As tennis champion Andre Agassi once said, “Attitude is everything.”
He (or was it his father?) knew that attitude meant being totally prepared with his life committed to sacrifice, training, travel. He would meet threat upon threat on court after court, year after year. Although he eventually had a team of pros behind him, he was always alone out on those courts. Each time he won a grand slam tournament he would have had to outlast 128 other players who came with the same attitudes and intentions to capture the championship trophy.
If we understand the challenges we face and what we need to do to meet them, we can win the championship. But we have to know the challenges. We have to know the enemy . . . even when the enemy is us.
That’s exactly why we’ve been working our way through 13 essays in the Red Zone where we meet and analyze incredible problems that have been building over hundreds of years. Daunting. But problems we face whether we’ve chosen them or not.
Human Capital Development vs. Job Interview
At this point, if I were a career coach, I would be helping you prepare answers to SWOT questions that would impress a potential employer. Saying what the employer wants to hear, rather than what is the unadulterated truth. I would prepare you to answer those “trick” questions about weaknesses and threats with “trick” answers.
As indie capitalists and solopreneurs, we will have to be just like Agassi: out on the court alone, aware, in charge of our own destinies.
During your SWOT analysis you’ll be conducting your own interview. And yes, you can fool yourself. People do it all the time.
Don’t fool yourself. You’ll lose the game!
My SWOT. Your Example.
This is my personal SWOT analysis. You can use it as your guide. Use the same questions to prompt your own answers. Your answers will not be copies of mine. They will be unique to who you are and what you do.
Here’s how mine goes:
Thinking about your attributes and those of your work that will help you achieve your objectives.
What do you do well?
A broad range of writing, advocacy and leadership.
What are your unique skills?
I have a background in journalism, political science, politics, public service, business, education and public affairs that enable me to understand and present complex issues in clear and simple terms.
What values and virtues do you admire/emulate?
I have always worked for purpose, not for money. Unfortunately, I got what I asked for — personal satisfaction, not personal gain. It would have been good if I had worked for a fair amount of both.
Still, I place high value on people as human capital. While director of Lifegift Organ Donation Centers in Texas, I learned that organ procurement nurses were the highest form of humanity. People who are overworked and underpaid deserve better.
What expert or specialized knowledge do you have?
- Internationally known adviser on corporate and personal knowledge management.
- Founder and administrator of the Facebook group, WE Are The Market Force.
- Author of two novels about economic injustice, one historical, one contemporary.
- Former university professor.
- Professor and content developer of the NotMyEconomics website.
What experience do you have?
Newspaper editor, publisher, writer, state senator, small businessman, corporate executive, knowledge management, business consultant, advocate for the poor and the middle class and do-it-yourselfer.
What do you do better than your competititors?
- I am a creative and alternative thinker, innovator and problem solver.
- I am an open-minded progressive with views that fit on either side of the social, political and economic divides.
- My heart is with both small business and labor.
- I am a veteran and a patriot who worries about the reputation, well-being and future of his country.
Where have you been most profitable in your work?
As an administrator and advocate in the healthcare field.
Think about your attributes and your work that could hurt your progress in achieving your objective.
In what areas do you need to improve?
- Multi-tasking, attention to detail, memory.
- I am better in print than I am as a public speaker.
- Better at marketing than sales.
What resources do you lack?
- Financial capital.
- Human capital.
I am in the twilight of my career and launching projects that will depend on others for sustainability.
What parts of your business are not very profitable?
- The NME online course is free. Purpose is entirely for the common good.
- However, it is an investment. NME’s intangible value is in the students who will graduate, many of whom will need ongoing support. COWORK Entrepreneurs will fill that need and can be profitable for all who work under that label as well as those who will become part of other COWORK Entrepreneurs franchises.
Where do you need further education and/or experience?
- Online marketing
What costs you time and money?
- Domestic responsibilities
Think about the external conditions that will help you achieve your objective.
What are the business goals you are currently working toward?
- Completion of NME class content.
- Startup of an NME Facebook group (done).
- Marketing plan.
- Publication of my second and third books.
- Development and launch of COWORK Entrepreneurs, a profit-for social purpose company offering an alternative business model for franchisees.
How can you do more with your existing customers or clients?
- Reduce time spent as administrator of a Facebook discussion group.
- Reinvest time saved in NME development and startup.
- Develop new for-profit for social purpose business model.
- Develop and staff COWORK Entrepreneurs.
How can you use technology to advance your business?
- Build COWORK Entrepreneurs as a virtual company.
- Transfer operations to others who are companies of one looking to invest their own human capital for profit and social purpose.
- Concentrate on leadership, teaching and business development.
Are there new potential target audiences you have the potential to reach?
The potential market for NME and COWORK Entrepreneurs is huge.
- But our startup market is primarily in the grassroots.
- Maximizing search engine results to appeal to people with a broad range of special interests.
- Targeted advertising can improve enrollment when we are ready.
- We can expand our markets from individuals to small businesses and larger corporations that are already showing interest in changing their business models to meet the changing workplace and economic environment.
Are there related products and services that provide an opportunity for your business?
- NME and its graduates will become an ongoing community with growing capital (financial, intellectual and human) needs.
- We can open COWORK Entrepreneurs to socially responsible investors as a means of funding a the COWORK Entrepreneurs Foundation.
- The Foundation would provide low-cost loans for the COWORK Entrepreneurs franchise startups.
How can you do more with your existing customers or clients?
- One of the primary goals of NME is to identify and prepare potential entrepreneurs as co-developers in a network of socially responsible profit-for-purpose enterprises franchised as COWORK Entrepreneurs.
- Those who prefer to work as indie capitalists within their existing employment will remain associated with NME as lifetime community members with access to continuing education and upward opportunity.
- COWORK Entrepreneurs will help certified indie capitalists or companies of one to launch or participate in startup COWORK Entrepreneurs franchises where profit sharing, not wages provide an opportunity to acquire a fair share of the wealth.
How can you use technology to enhance your business?
- NME starts relatively low tech. As NME grows, technological advances in online education need to be identified and adopted to improve and expand the course to serve a rapidly growing enrollment.
- COWORK Entrepreneurs will be a virtual company with its operations in the clouds and its workers wherever they are located.
Are there new target audiences you have the potential to reach?
- The original market is large and involves a variety of special interest groups. Search engine results can be divided into target markets.
- NME’s focus on individuals can be expanded to target groups, small businesses, and corporations that are actively exploring alternatives to the traditional business model.
- Existing non-profits also have great potential for transformation to profit-for- social purpose. Non-profits struggle under regulatory restrictions.
Are there related products and services that provide an opportunity for your business?
- Yes, there will be entire new industries and alliances spring up around the changes in economics and business brought about by NME and COWORK Entrepreneurs.
- The profit-sharing, profit-for-social purpose business model is trademarked (pending).
- Products and services based on COWORK Entrepreneurs can also be produced, licensed or franchised.
Think about the external conditions that could damage your work’s performance.
What obstacles do you face?
- Resistance to change.
- COWORK Entrepreneurs is undercapitalized, both in terms of human and financial capital. With limited resources, we are faced with the job of spreading our message using primarily free media.
- While that could limit startup, we intend to start small. Go big.
- I am truly a company of one (plus my wife Michele). We need more human capital.
- Expansion of COWORK Entrepreneurs will require professionals in the fields of technology, fulfillment and socially responsible investent (SRI).
What are the strengths of your biggest competitors?
- On the political front our competitors are demagoguery, greed, misunderstanding, confusion, anger, frustration and illogical behavior.
- Our competitors are those who are deliberately controlling our economics and using the power to dominate the economy and our democracy.
- Some of our competitors are well-meaning warriors who fight on the political front where they are outgunned, instead of on the economic front where they can regain economic power.
- Our competitors are unrestrained consumers who unwittingly aid and abet the greed of unrestrained capitalists.
- On the economic front, there are no competitors working the way COWORK Entrepreneurs will to change how business and economics works.
What are your competitors doing that you’re not.
Our competitors are trapped in business, economics and politics as usual. Big Business and Big Government are using the traditional business and economic models to deliberately control life in the workplace. The vast majority on both sides of the divide want a way out.
What’s going on in the economy?
- The economy, the democracy, the people and their futures are in chaos.
- While Big Business appears to have a lock on economics, most agree unrestrained capitalism and wrong-headed economics are unsustainable.
- The people are angry.
- Reports show that small business is showing a revival. Some large corporations are beginning to look for a different business model to match the changing dynamics both inside and outside their organizations.
- Individual workers at all levels of the economic scale face desperation, uncertainty and decline in real income and benefits. The future of jobs is frightening.
- Most agree this is the time for change and COWORK Entrepreneurs is on the leading edge.
My Plan Reaches Beyond the Scope of This Course
As you can see, my personal SWOT Analysis reaches far beyond the scope of this course. I want to save capitalism and change the way democracy works. But my first strategic plan must start small and be ready to go big. Sooner than later!
Fortunately, “small” is exactly where the power lies. Economics begins with us, at home and at work.
And you are an important part of that. By developing your own strategic plan alongside NME and COWORK Entrepreneurs, you are have the ability to extend the reach of your goals, objectives, strategies and tactics far beyond your home base.
While your personal strategic plan will be about you, where you are and within the bounds of your reach, it can be linked to the grander scale of NME and COWORK Entrepreneurs. Not only will that be impressive, it will help you go further, faster and with greater impact on your life your piece of the world.
You are not alone.
As you can tell, I’ve been open and honest with you. Your strategic plan will be private (just between you and me). So, be honest with yourself. It’s a big step you are about to take. Best you keep your eyes wide open!
Complete the first draft of your SWOT before moving on to
The Value of Values