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Get Out of Your Rut with SWOT!

While it can be easy to fall into a rut, both a personally and professionally, it’s important to be constantly evolving to remain relevant. One of the best parts about working for yourself is the ability to study and then implement your own personal style into your business.

First it’s important to discover what you do well, how you could improve and whether you are making the most of the opportunities around you. Sometimes owning up to your business weaknesses will help you discover who you are, what you’re about and where you want to go.
Not all travel agents are created equal. Do you love to research destinations but quiver at the thought of getting up in front of a group to make a presentation? Do you relish speaking to people but hate all of the detail work of running a business? Learn how to discover your strengths, identify and work with your weaknesses, and how to build your business around them.

There is a tradition business approach called SWOT that could help you discover your business Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats that will help you learn who you are, what you’re about, and where you want your business to go.

Know Your STRENGTHS. Take some time to consider what you believe are the strengths of your business. These could be seen in terms of your preferred supplier relations, customer loyalty and satisfaction, or even the availability to work outside of normal business hours.

Evaluate what you do well in your business. It could be your marketing expertise or your excellent customer service. It’s important to try to evaluate your strengths in terms of how they compare to those of your competitors. For example, if you and your competitors provide the same pricing, then this cannot be listed as a strength. However, if you make yourself available to clients outside of normal business hours, and your competitor is only open Monday through Friday – 9 to 5, then you should consider listing this as a strength.

To identify your strengths watch for feelings of achievement. For example: When you do the task or activity, it just feels fulfilling. Let your professional style take flight. If you’re secure in your talents, background, and training, you can work toward adding more creativity to the mix.

Recognize Your WEAKNESSES. Most of us are very aware of our weaknesses. The challenge is we avoid dealing with them. Try to take an objective look at every aspect of your business. Ask yourself what could be improved. Can you offer something that would create stand out customer service? Do the suppliers you use always deliver what they promise? Try to identify any area of expertise that is lacking in your business. For example, you might realize that you need some financial guidance.
Dislike paperwork and lack organizational skills? Subcontract out tasks or find someone with offsetting strengths and create a partnership to achieve your goals. Look for alternative ways of getting the tasks completed.
Do you lack creativity? Your work style doesn’t have to be over the top to be distinctive. Continue to highlight your best elements when possible to create a consistent personal brand.

Your main objective during this exercise is to be as honest as you can in listing weaknesses. Don’t just make a list of mistakes that have been made, such as an occasion when a customer was not called back promptly. Try to see the broader picture instead and learn from what happened. Ask yourself what could you have done differently?

Spot the OPPORTUNITIES. They can include competitors who are not performing well, providing you with the opportunity to do better. A supplier who continually lets you down could be turned into an opportunity by finding another supplier who is more reliable and who may even offer you a better commission.
Watch Out for THREATS. Some threats are tangible, such as a new travel agency joining your Chamber of Commerce. Others may only be likely, such as hurricanes, strikes or major global events effecting travel. It’s better to be vigilant because if potential threat does become a real one, you’ll be able to react much quicker and hopefully have put some contingency planning into place.
Even if you’re not ready to face your faults and best qualities on a daily basis, challenge yourself to create a list of your top five strengths and weaknesses. From a personal and business development perspective, having a good grasp on your strengths and weaknesses will help you achieve your goals, create a sense of balance, and improve your productivity.

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