SWOT’s UP Reviewing opportunities to improve and grow your business

Reviewing opportunities to improve and grow your business

Before you start relaxing and fly-swatting this summer, why not do a little business-swotting, give your business the once-over and put yourself in a positive space to start the year. Whether you prepare a formal, written analysis, simply jot down a few ideas or just remain mindful, being aware of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats facing your business, your region and the wider environment is an important strategy for success. Once you’re aware, the next step is taking action to neutralize or minimise the threats and maximize and optimise the opportunities.

No such thing as problems

The end of year is a time for celebration but while you’re toasting your wins over a round of back-slapping, the smarter operators will be focussing on the losses, the missed opportunities, the downsides. Why? Because these weaknesses or problems are key areas for growth. Fixing the problem represents an opportunity to turn a weakness into a strength.

These may take the form of issues with customer service, product issues, financial stresses and general business operations. Is the problem or threat real or generated by unrealistic expectations? Time to get everything done a problem? Perhaps you’re not so time-poor as disorganised or simply taking on way too much. Prioritising is key, as is being honest with yourself. You might just have to give up something in your life, at least for a period of time, to concentrate on what you want to achieve.

While you’re focussing on yourself, we’ll take a wider view and SWOT Macarthur and beyond.

Build it and They Will Come

Macarthur has definitely become infrastructurecentral with all levels of government and business busy developing roads, transports, housing estates and of course the new airport. Well you know the drill here – some threats to face during construction with plenty of opportunities on completion. Enough said!

Doing the Gig-Jig

Technology is a major business driver and has been the catalyst for the emergence of entire new sectors – the share and gig economies. You need something done, you don’t have the time, skills, expertise, resources to do it – you go online and get someone to do it for you. You may take an UBER now and then but there is far more in this for business.

• Save money by ditching fully-maintained company cars and using a car-sharing service

• Engage expert skills across many disciplines only when you need them and from a global workforce through sites like Freelancer and Upwork.

• Use Airtasker to fill the gaps for all types of tasks – cleaning, helping out, etc as well as professional services. Plenty of people out there looking for work on one-off basis so make the most of it.

Flipside – do you have a service which you can promote by listing on these sites?

The Yanks are Coming!

If you haven’t already heard, the US-based online marketplace, Amazon, is due to launch in Australia very soon. Depending on who you listen to, it represents a massive threat or a huge opportunity to local businesses. We approached Amazon for information for this article, but at the time of writing, they advised nothing specific was available to the public.

However, our editor, Lyndall Arnold, has a store at Handmade on Amazon for her hobby business and shares her experiences.

“I’ve been selling on ebay for 12 years, etsy for 8 years and Handmade on Amazon for 2 years and I’ve also worked with clients setting up e-commerce and on their ownwebsites and I see both having upsides and downsides,” Lyndall said.

Lyndall emphasises that hers is a small-scale business and existing online marketplaces are absolutely perfect for this purpose. But many leading retailers have also set up stores within ebay and it is a great option for those not wanting to go to the expense of setting up their own e-commerce business.

“Having the instant exposure to worldwide markets that Amazon and ebay give you is priceless,” Lyndall said. “Unless you have an existing following for your own business, you may have to spend a lot on search/ adwords in addition to building an e-commerce site, just to generate initial customer interest.”

The major downsides that Lyndall sees are the lack of consistency in terminology across these sites and some of the charges.

“Each seems to have their own language so getting started can be a bit frustrating,” she said. “They also have different cost structures and terms and conditions. So you need to look closely at these to ensure your price reflects these and that you are happy to abide by their rules.”

Amazon did advise that anyone interested can go to www.amazon.com.au click SELL and register to receive information on selling on Amazon. Could be a great opportunity for you to add to your existing e-commerce or as a starting point.

Complete the Cycle

Another interesting opportunity exists in recycling. Planet Ark is currently running a campaign, encouraging everyone to complete the re-cycling cycle by not only recycling but also purchasing products made from recycled materials. Great initiative to help the environment plus it could give you a competitive edge if you can source recycled materials to use in your production.

For inspiration, Planet Ark provided examples of some companies that are using recycled materials to make new products:

• Newtecpoly make eWood – a plastic wood used for fencing and garden beds that is made from computers, TVs, white goods, car parts and printer cartridges. They will also make planks, bollards, posts and even shipping pallets.

• Replas collect soft plastics to make outdoor furniture, decking, signage and event exercise equipment.

• And Woolcool use waste wool to create sustainable, reusable packaging that is highly effective as an insulator, hygienic and compostable.

In regard to Business Recycling, Planet Ark is running a campaign early next year, which is full of tips for how to bring new or improved recycling practices into the workplace. According to their research, many business see efficient waste management and recycling as a cost saving and a practice that gives them a competitive edge. So there’s another opportunity for you to consider – more info at www.businessrecycling.com.au

The greatest threat

Procrastination! So sort those problems and be ready to take full advantage of new opportunities in the year ahead!

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Lyndall Lee Arnold
Differentiated by a rare combination of natural creative talent and business sensibility, Lyndall is an experienced writer who effectively puts together words to explain, sell, train, excite, inspire, motivate, explain, entertain and communicate. Writing for the page, the screen, the mic, she infuses every project with her insight, instinct and initiative. As a small business owner/operator, she identifies closely with Smarter Macarthur readers and as editor, explores issues and starts conversations beyond the expected. Delivering valuable and useful resources and information in every issue to build our readers’ knowledge base and increase their business productivity. Based on a strong foundation as a creative spirit, writer, producer and project manager, Lyndall has developed a wealth of experience and expertise across the full spectrum of marketing and communications services in an even broader range of industry sectors. Her contemporary, conversational writing style is perfect for websites and marketing campaigns, but she excels at varying her style to suit the product and the audience - from quirky and creative, to ‘straight to the point’ business through to classic and formal speak for grants and awards. In an interesting and varied career, Lyndall has proven her capability to transform business ideas and aspirations into practical, workable reality with her common sense approach and conscientious attitude.