When starting a new business, both time and resources are tight. That’s why it’s vital that your efforts are focused on the right areas. To determine where your time is best spent you must first identify the strengths and weaknesses of your startup.
There are a few easy ways to do this:
- Monitor recurring issues
- Find your USP
- Determine what is generating ROI
- Consider the tasks you prefer
With your strengths and weaknesses established, you can focus resources on the areas that need them most. On top of improving areas of weakness, this also allows you to ensure you are fully capitalizing on your strengths.
Keep an Eye on Recurring Issues
Is there an issue that keeps coming up at your startup? Maybe your team always struggles to meet deadlines or stick to budgets. If so, this is strong evidence of a company-wide weakness.
The first thing to do to tackle a recurring problem is to understand why it keeps happening. If your startup often goes way over budget, is this simply down to poor financial management? Or could it be a problem with communication between sales and execution?
In the words of the famed writer Ernest Agyemang Yeboah: ‘A recurring problem needs nothing but a tactical head-on solution.’
Such a tactical, head-on solution often requires professional help. You could consider bringing in a finance expert, for example, to train your staff on how to handle a strict budget. Alternatively, you could hire a new team member skilled in budget management.
In other cases, a change in a process may be required such as a new sign-off or quoting procedure – to ensure everyone is working off the same page from sale through to delivery.
USP: Determine What You Have That Your Competitors Don’t
Just as important as improving the weaker areas of your business is ensuring that you maximize your greatest strengths. To do this, you first need to fully understand what they are.
One way to do this is to compare your offering to that of your nearest competitors.
Checklist for conducting competitor analysis:
- Examine your competitors’ web presence/reach. How visible are they? Where do they rank?
- Understand their messaging. What are they selling as their greatest strengths? How do they compare against yours?
- Compare your offerings side by side. What do you offer that they do not?
- Compare pricing. If your offering is similar or stronger, does the pricing reflect that?
- See what customers are saying. Read reviews and check social media. Is there a gap your product/service can fill?
When looking at your competitors’ offerings, the key is to pinpoint exactly what you offer that they do not. This is where you are strongest.
These market differentiators are the reason why a customer is likely to pick your business over another – they are your USP. It is vital that you always play to these strengths and place them at the very heart of your messaging.
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Examine What Brings in the Most ROI
Some small businesses have an idea of ‘what they are but rarely check to see if the sales figures tally. In fact, there are those who would not identify this as a problem, believing that if the business is turning a profit, it doesn’t really matter where it comes from. The issue, however, is that a business in this position is not playing to its strengths.
The most profitable area of your business is where you are strongest, therefore this is the area you should be leading with. It sounds simple when presented like this but many businesses struggle to adapt in this way, often with dire consequences. A lack of flexibility is among the most common reasons why new businesses fail.
Common Reasons for Startup Failure:
- Poor market research
- Bad planning
- Lack of financing
- No market presence
Don’t fall foul of this common pitfall. Follow the money. Identify the most profitable area of your business and maximize it to its full potential.
Consider What You Love to do Compared to What You Dislike
One very easy way to determine your own strengths and weaknesses as an entrepreneur is to think about the tasks you love and those you dread.
Is there anything in particular that you always put off? Or something that you can’t wait to start on? Generally speaking, those tasks that feel like a chore are your weaker areas while the ones that you actively enjoy are your strengths.
As for what to do with your findings, there are two main schools of thought. Some would advise that you focus on improving your weaker areas. There is certainly merit to this approach. However, I am of the belief that in the early stages at least, it makes more sense to play to your strengths and delegate your weaknesses.
Personal growth is hugely important, as is learning new skills. However, in the early days of a startup, it’s more important to get the job done. If you’ve established that your personal strengths lie in driving sales, then right now that’s where you need to be. If you really haven’t got a head for figures, then delegate that task to someone who does.
Quite simply, when running a startup, you need to be wherever you add the most value.
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