How well do you know your competition? Not just the one competitor nearby, but all of them? How much time do you spend gathering information about your competition? Are you "scouting" like they do in the military? Silently observing your competition, sizing them up, comparing their approach to yours? No, this is not "cheating". This is simply being on your toes and gathering critical data to help you be more successful.
You may be familiar with the term SWOT Analysis. It stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. It is a well-documented methodology for analyzing your competition. If you want to win this year's Tour de Profit, you can't do it with your head planted in the sand of better said, simply looking at yourself in the mirror. You must know where you stand RELATIVE to your competition. The SWOT Analysis will help put your business into perspective.
Doing a SWOT Analysis is very simple. Take 4 sheets of paper and on each one write one of the following - My Strengths, My Weaknesses, My Opportunities, My Threats. Then over this next week, as you think about, observe and gather information about your main competitors, simply put your thoughts on these pages. Be candid with yourself. This is not being scored or evaluated. You are going to use this to give yourself the advantage. But first you must collect the data and fill in the pages.
Then, once you have your four pages filled with notes, here is where the magic happens. Take your Strengths page and your Opportunities page, put them side by side, and ask yourself "What could I do using my strengths to take advantage of my opportunities?" Make a list of the things you could do to "leverage" your strengths specifically targeted into the opportunities that your competition has offered to you.
Next, take your Weaknesses page and your Threats page, put them side by side, and ask yourself "What must I do right now to shore up my weaknesses and eliminate the possible threats?" There may be one or two critical things you must do now to cover your flank.
These last two exercises are the ones that most business owners fail to do. They list the SWOT Analysis, put it in a strategy book, and never do anything with it until the next year when the pull it out, dust it off and do it again. If you want to win you must TAKE ACTION on your SWOT Analysis!
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