You need an 8-box SWOT

Keep it simple, pen and paper is the way to go first. do it now rather than wait to learn software etc.

This is what you do:

Draw up a 3 by 3 grid on a sheet of A4

labelling the boxes

1 - 2 - 3

4 - 5 - 6

7 - 8 - 9

Box 1  - isn't used

Box 2 - Strengths - write in here all of the strengths

Box 3 - Weaknesses - write in here all of your weaknesses

Both of these are internal characteristics - about you and your company - they should be characteristic, distinct that are significant to the degree that the provide a competitive advantage or disadvantage - if they don't do either (the yeh... whatever... stuff) then don't write them down.

Box 4 - Opportunities

Box 7 - Threats

Both of these are external characteristics of the market or the environment in which you work. Again they need to be capable of exerting significant influence/impact on your business to be worth writing down.

THIS IS WHERE IT TURNS FROM A THOUGHT EXERCISE TO SOMETHING USEFUL!!!

box 5 - the zone of riches - the intersection between your strengths and the opportunities.

box 6 - the wannabe zone - weaknesses and opportunities

box 8 - the get tough zone - strengths and threats

box 9 - the hazard zone - where you are weak and there is an external threat.

In each of the 4 zones above look for both good and bad linkages (good = offensive moves to take advantage, bad gives you possibilities of defensive moves to prevent failure)

If the same sort of idea emerges from more than one zone then that may be significant.

When you finish you need to produce a defined action plan for dealing with what you have identified. Operating on the premise that there is always more stuff to do than time to do it be very selective in what you choose, put the rest on a 'do later list'.

For the 1, 2 or 3 projects you have identified what is the single next action (clue it starts with a verb) that you have to do to get started?

Now explain the 8 box swot you have just done to your wife, brother, parent, best friend - find someone. Tell them what your strengths are, where the opportunities exist (note I haven’t mentioned weaknesses or threats) and the three things from the zones that need action NOW. Most importantly tell these people your plans to capitalise upon the contents of the zones and what your first action will be!

Do that first action in the next 5 days!

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