Solopreneurs and small business owners grow and fall on the market perception of the brand, also called one’s professional reputation. Because of this, the newest merits ongoing monitoring, enhancement and promotion as a component of strategies designed to support new business acquisition and promote repeat business. The target is to build and maintain a good client list. A practical way to review and evaluate your brand is with what many experts consider the gold standard of strategic planning, the SWOT Analysis.
SWOT is the acronym of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Every 18 – 24 months, self-employed professionals will benefit from analyzing the viability of their brand, to better understand what actions improve the brand and what might weaken it. Conduct a SWOT Analysis and use what you discover as the foundation of a strategic plan for your brand.
Strengths: expertise, competitive advantages, A-list clients, referral sources, strategic partnerships, educational or professional qualifications, financial resources, influential relationships. Potential actions include:
Leveraging resources to update the types of customers you work with
Increasing sales or billable hours with a particular percentage
creating a strategy to acquire more repeat business
creating a strategy that would persuade clients to hire you to get more lucrative projects
Weaknesses: whatever challenges your own brand. Competitors, ineffective advertising, bad customer service, feeble perceived value of your products and services. These are internal and within your control. Potential activities include:
Deciding which inadequacies have the most negative effect on earnings
Identifying gaps which can be quickly or inexpensively remedied
Understanding how to minimize obligations–which business practices can you alter, professional credentials you may earn, relationships you can cultivate? All these are outside and beyond your control, yet you may be able to retool and benefit from their existence. Superior information about business conditions in your marketplace helps business owners to evaluate and envision the potential of short-term and long-term benefits and learn how to get the pay-off. Consider the following:
What new developments can you leverage to bring prestige and money to your enterprise?
Can you see ROI in supplying new services or products?
Are there great customers you might successfully sign or lapsed clients that, with outreach, could be prepared to reactivate?
Is there a niche market you can successfully enter?
Hazards: conditions likely to harm your brand, or your ability to acquire customers and create sufficient billable hours. All these are outside and beyond your control, yet you might have the ability to retool and escape or minimize the harm caused by their presence. This component requires your immediate attention, since it carries the potential to finish, or severely cripple, your brand and business.
Has a significant contact left his/her organization, leaving you at the mercy of the new decision-maker, who has their own buddies to hire? Or has there been a merger that resulted in the downgrading of the influence of your chief contact, who may lose the capacity to green-light jobs that you manage?
Has a well-connected and competitive competitor appeared on the scene, ready to eat your market share and customer list by way of a better known brand, more influential relationships, a bigger marketing budget, or other game-changing competitive benefits?
If your customer contact has moved on, take that person to coffee or lunch and attempt to make the professional relationship portable. If your contact has lost influence in the new organization chart, take out him to coffee and get details regarding the replacement, who might hire you for the next project if it’s scheduled to start quickly.
If competition has intensified, do everything possible to offer superior customer service, assert your expertise, step up your media, improve your thought-leader credentials and nurture your customer relationships.
Implementing a strategy of protective actions, by way of example, a new relaunch or a pivot to more hospitable company gardening, might be necessary. Stay abreast of current and prospective developments in the industries you serve. Communicate with clients and stay current concerning the state of their priorities and concerns. Good relationships will give you the resources of time and information that will let you evaluate and regroup.