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Your Personal SWOT Analysis (Part I)

Today and tomorrow, we’ll discuss your personal SWOT analysis. In case you’re not familiar with it, SWOT is an acronym for …

Strengths
Weaknesses
Opportunities
Threats

SWOT analysis has been used for years by companies as part of their strategic planning process. More recently, individuals have seen the value for using it to plan their own lives, as well.

This blog is a follow-up to these prior posts:

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We asked you, “If neither time nor money was an issue, how would you spend your time and your money? This is all about discovering your passion … your dream.

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We followed that series of shows up by talking about core values. What’s important to you?

So now we’re ready to go to the next level. Now we’re going to bring back the constraints – time and money. Back to reality!

Today, we’ll tackle the first two parts of SWOT analysis – strengths and weaknesses.

But first, a little tidbit …

Did you know that …
 … part of Albert Einstein’s brain was abnormally large?
… another part of his brain was unusually small?

Which part was larger than normal, you ask? That area used for math and spatial intelligence. You probably could have guessed that, right? Can you guess the part that was quite small? It was the area used for linguistics.

Most children start talking between the ages of one and two. Einstein, who is generally regarded as one of the smartest people ever, didn’t start talking until he was three!

He failed a language exam when he was 16. He was known to be a terrible lecturer. He was not a cunning linguist! So what’s the moral of the story?

Be thankful for your weaknesses because
they may be the source of your strengths!

How do you uncover your strengths? Answer this question:

What do you find easy to do that others find difficult?

If you find that question difficult to answer, you know that answering questions isn’t one of your strengths! Just kidding! Seriously, we often overlook those things that come easy to us. We take them for granted.

Ask your friends and family what they think your strengths are. Tell them you’re looking for an objective opinion to help you understand yourself better. You’ll find their answers quite interesting.

To discover your weaknesses, answer the question in reverse:

What do you find difficult that seems to come easily to others?

Once again, if you’re having difficulty answering this question, ask people you trust for their opinion. Assure them that you truly appreciate their counsel because you’re discovering how to improve yourself.

On the show, Mary-Lynn and George shared their strengths and weaknesses.

Strengths
Mary-Lynn said that “audio production” is something she’s always found easy to do.

George said he’s always been relatively comfortable with “money and finance.”

Weaknesses
Mary-Lynn acknowledged that “numbers” are not her bag. That’s why she pursued a career that tapped her creativity.

George confessed that “orderliness” is his biggest weakness. It’s nice to know that Ben Franklin confessed to the same shortcoming! He said it was the hardest of his thirteen virtues to get right! Read our recent article about that here.

Our Bigg Quote today comes from the author and poet Joyce C. Lock, who simply said:

“Build upon strengths, and weaknesses will gradually take care of themselves.”

Only the strong survive, but if you know your weaknesses, and utilize your strengths, you’ll not only survive … you’ll thrive!

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Next time, we’ll continue on this thread – we’ll talk about the second half of SWOT –

 Opportunities and Threats.

We’ll also discuss how to put all the pieces, including your passion and purpose, together.

In the meantime, Mary-Lynn is off to balance her checkbook. And George is cleaning up his desk! Until next time, here’s to your bigg success!

 

Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00041-010708.mp3

Related Links:

Visualize The Life You Want

Live Your Dream With Purpose

Ben Franklin's Thirteen Virtues

Ben Fraklin’s Thirteen Virtues Chart (pdf)

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10 Signs That You Are Ready To Quit Your Job And Start A Business

By Bigg Success Staff
01-03-07

Life Changes

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Leaving your job to start your own business ranks right up there with life’s major decisions. It’s risky. You’re choosing personal freedom over the security a job provides. Or are you?

The advantage to planning your exit may be that YOU get to choose the timing. Many entrepreneurs start their businesses after a layoff. Ideally, you get to make the decision on your own terms, at your own time.

However, there’s never an ideal time to start your own business. Much like getting married or having kids, if you wait for exactly the right time, you’ll never do it!

You can always get another job, but you only get one life. So here are the ten signs that you’re ready to quit your job and start your own business.

#10 – There are no significant benefits to waiting … even a little bit.
If you’re only a couple of years from retirement, you may be better off waiting so you’ll have a steady income stream to launch your new venture. You won’t feel the same pressure that you will feel when you leave without that cushion.

Another reason to stay, at least for awhile, is that you’re almost vested in your retirement plan. Why not wait until you can get the full benefit of all of your company’s contributions? Use the time to get prepared for your new business.

Finally, when you go out on your own, health insurance will be solely your problem. How’s your health? Can you get insurance through your spouse? Unfortunately, this is a significant consideration in starting your own business.

#9 – You are prepared for the demands of owning your own business.
There’s a myth that owning and managing your own business is easy. It’s definitely not. You need to be ready – mentally, emotionally, and physically for the rigors that come with entrepreneurship.

You have to be mentally tough because you will be tested every day. You will find that you’re often at the very edge of your comfort zone. That’s great – it means you’re learning and growing. But it isn’t easy, and some people find it overwhelming.

You need to be ready for the emotional roller-coaster that comes from business ownership. You’ll have highs … you’ll have lows. You’ll find that there are few days in between. Owning your own business can make you downright manic depressive! You have to be emotionally prepared for the ups-and-downs.

Finally, do you have the physical capacity to own your own business? Starting a business often requires long days. Very, very long days. Intense work. If it’s to be, it’s up to me – that saying had to be written for entrepreneurs. Be sure you’re physically ready to lead by example.

#8 – You’re sick and tired of just thinking about it. It’s time to do it.
Practice makes perfect. But practice gets boring after awhile. You’re ready to play the game! When you reach the point where you’re getting frustrated about just thinking about it, you’re ready to go!

Put another way, 13 when your fear of not trying has overcome your fear of failure], you know you’re ready to put yourself out there. Not trying disturbs you more than the fear of failure. You feel it in your gut – you just won’t be happy until you at least try it, so you can see if you can do it.

#7 – You have the education and experience to go out on your own.
You don’t need a college degree to start a business. However, you should have educated yourself about your industry. What are the success factors in this industry? Where are the opportunities? What are the threats? What are your competition’s strengths? Weaknesses? These are just a few things you should know before you make the leap.

What relevant experience do you have? Have you managed people? Have you made sales? Do you have the technical experience needed? What are your strengths and weaknesses? You don’t have to know it all – see Sign #5 – but you’re more likely to succeed if you have applicable experience. There are enough variables to deal with; your experience shouldn’t be one of them.

However, don’t think that you have to have experience in an industry to succeed. There are plenty of examples of outsiders who bring a new perspective, and therefore see fresh opportunities, to an industry. See Sign #3 below for some ideas on how to “buy” experience.

#6 – You have a supportive spouse, if applicable.
Most importantly, your spouse has to be mentally and emotionally prepared for what your new business will require from you. It will affect your relationship, one way or another. Your spouse needs to understand this. If not, you’ll find yourself with a bigger problem than anything you’ll deal with in your new business.

Ideally, your spouse has a career that supports your family while you build your business. If you can live off the income generated by your spouse, much of the pressure of starting up will be removed. You may even strike a deal with your spouse – you venture out now, so he or she can venture out later when you’ve succeeded.

#5 – You have a support network.
In addition to your spouse, do you have a support team? The business world is too complex to fully go it alone. You thought about your strengths and weaknesses in Sign #7 above. Do you have people in place who complement your strengths?

Do you have a strong network, particularly in your chosen industry? People you can call for help and ideas. People who have been where you want to go. Do you know the influencers in the industry?

As we’ll discuss more in Sign #3, you can “buy” this support by investing in a good franchise system or buying an established business. However, ideally you’ve developed your own base of support, no matter whether you start or buy.

#4 – You have six months (preferably twelve) of living expenses in reserve.
Do you have the financial capacity to support your business? Even if it requires little upfront investment, you don’t want to depend on your business to provide a steady income immediately. You need to have a reserve.

Of course, as mentioned in Sign #6, earlier, if your supportive spouse agrees to cover your living expenses while you get your business going, you can launch without an extensive reserve. However, you should still have some money set aside to cover you in case something happens with your spouse’s job.

#3 – You have a market-tested idea.
It’s one thing to have an idea in your head. It’s quite another to put it in writing. It’s better yet to have tested your idea with actual customers before you quit your job.

You may be able to start part-time. Try out your idea while you still have the luxury of a steady income from your current job. If all goes really well, your decision gets made for you – because your idea receives a great reception in the market and you quickly build an income that fully replaces your current income. Wouldn’t that make your decision easy?

There are other ways to “test” your idea:

  • Buy a franchise. The franchisor has a market-tested concept. Just add capital and you’re in business!
  • Buy an existing business. Find an owner of a successful business who wants to move on. Structure a deal and you’re in business – with established customers, employees, infrastructure, and cash flow!
  • Model a similar business. Find an owner of a business like yours who is operating successfully in a market similar to yours. Interview them. Find out what their success factors are and copy them.

#2 – You have a plan.
You don’t need an elaborate business plan. However, you should know how you’re going to take your idea to market. What’s your strategy for executing your plan? Where will you find customers? How much will you charge? How will you fulfill orders? How will you account for it all? How much profit will you make?

You need to know the answers to questions like these, and more, before you quit your job. This is part of the initiation to entrepreneurship. It’s not flashy or sexy work; in fact it’s hard. However, it’s essential to improving your odds.

#1 – You have a contingency plan.
Ask yourself, “What if …” There’s one thing we can know, beforehand, for certain. Things won’t go exactly as you plan. You need to think through the possibilities before you launch.

What if your income expectations aren’t met? What if you can’t make it go? What if it succeeds beyond your wildest expectations? Believe it or not, that can present a bigg problem – albeit, a good one! What if, what if, what if … consider alternative scenarios and plan for them.

Planning is great. Having a back-up is better. Depending on your circumstances, you may even want a back-up to your back-up plan. Spend some time, before you launch, considering what might happen and you’ll be prepared when it does!

One thing that differentiates successful entrepreneurs from failures is that those who succeed are adept at minimizing their risk. Quitting your job to start a business is a risky proposition. Follow these steps and you’ll not only minimize your risk – you’ll make your chances of success much greater!

(Image of traffic sign by Steve Webel, CC 2.0)

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Hot Businesses For 2008

By Bigg Success Staff
12-28-07

Home Office

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Some overriding trends still drive the list of hot businesses for the coming year. There’s an excellent article from Entrepreneur entitled 2008 Hot List. If you’re looking for a business, you’ll find this article helpful.

The article, written by Lindsay Holloway, Amanda C. Kooser, James Park, Laura Tiffany, Nichole L. Torres and Sara Wilson, provides insight into a number of industries that are ripe for aspiring entrepreneurs.

We’ll provide our own summary here, but you owe it to yourself to check out the full article.

Upscale food and drink
If food or drink is your forte, there’s plenty of opportunity if you can find a micro-niche. With alcoholic beverages, the bottom line is premium is hot. People are drinking less, in general, but when they do, they’re choosing higher quality pours.

There’s also increasing opportunities in enhanced beverages, as the twenty somethings look to liquid refreshments as a near cure-all. Look to Asia for the latest taste trends

As consumers get more and more selective in their food, micro-niches are expected to grow. Organic foods are hot. Now people are looking for even more specialization such as allergen-free, gluten-free, and low glycemic foods. While you’re pondering the possibilities, don’t forget about dessert – consumers with special needs still have a sweet tooth.

In the food service arena, there’s plenty of opportunity as well. English pubs that serve high-quality food, known as gastropubs, are showing great promise.

Upscale dessert shops also hold promise. Whether it is cupcakes or frozen desserts, there’s plenty of opportunity for a sweet business.

Baby boom
The baby boom is nearing retirement age. With that come incredible opportunities to serve them.

As the boomers exit the job market, they’re also creating demand for staffing services that can fill their jobs from the shrinking pool of qualified candidates. On a related note, medical staffing firms are expected to thrive given the growing shortage of medical professionals combined with the aging population.

Seniors want to remain in their homes as long as they possibly can. This is creating huge demand for concierge services that coordinate home health care, financial planning services, non-medical care, and more.

Tweens and teens and twenty somethings
They have more money to spend than any group this age in history. And they’re used to spending it. They want the latest and greatest of everything. Their short attention spans may just create an opportunity for you.

Content is king and this group demands a lot of it – right on their mobile devices. Mobile content, web applications for social networking sites, and online games all have huge market potential.

Educational services are expected to grow. Consultants who help families steer through the college entrance process are expected to be in demand. So are providers of online tutoring as well as developers of courses that can be delivered via the web.

Green movement
Green is starting to produce green. There are an abundance of opportunities developing for entrepreneurs who want to do well by doing good.

High energy prices are creating opportunities in alternative energy, such as solar products. Home automation is hot, partly because of the savings, but also from consumer’s increasing desire for new technology.

Consultants are in demand to help firms with their environmental initiatives.

Shopping
The desire to shop ‘til you drop hasn’t changed. There are plenty of opportunities to open your own retail business – either online or the old-fashioned way.

The hottest categories are accessory items, like sunglasses, handbags, and specialty shoes. Consumers are on-the-lookout for that special something that makes them stand out.

Home party sales, of just about everything you can think of, are raising the roof! And good news if you’re crafty – homemade goods are hotter than ever!

Finally, don’t forget the pets – demand for pet products is expected to continue to rise as consumers pamper their pets as much as they indulge themselves.

Hear today's lesson and laugh on The Bigg Success Show. 

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