When it comes to success most people don’t plan to fail. However, many just simply fail to plan their success and rely on “luck”. I believe that when it comes to business in order to stay ahead a certain level of planning and strategy is required to prevent undesired outcomes.
Periodically it is important to review and reassess your business structure to understand that you are continuing along the path that will ultimately lead to your vision. Very often due to unforeseen circumstances like a recession or simply due to the changes that occur naturally in life your competitive edge in the market may have become weakened. So, if you don’t stop to check that all is well you could be falling short for your patients and not even realize that your practice growth has flatlined.
One tool that I have found very useful to help to keep a check on how my business aligns with that of my vision and helps to maintain my competitive edge is a SWOT analysis. This is tool is used periodically as a quick and easy exploration of ideas especially with senior management – we call it swotting up on success. The exercise helps you to identify your business attributes and the actions you need to take to best meet the requirements of your market. You will then be able to either reestablish your required position as a service provider or be reassured that you are continuing along the correct path.
SWOT stands for:
S = Strengths (internal)
W = Weakness (internal)
O = Opportunities (internal & external)
T = Threats (internal & external)
Identifying the strengths within your business (including your team) can help to leverage the positives against the negatives. The question to ask is “What unique benefits do you provide your customers?” For example, you could have someone within your team that has a flare for marketing or that you are very good at communication.
Being aware of your weaknesses allows you to compensate for them. The question to ask is “What customer needs is remaining unfulfilled?” For example, you may dislike oral surgery in which case you can create a referral program to another dentist for any patients that requires oral surgery.
If you are asking the correct questions and have the correct skills then you will be continuously coming across multitudes of opportunities. The key is to be aware of your deficiencies and to understand where you are taking your business vision. The question to ask is “How can you add more value to your business?” and “How can you overturn your weaknesses?” For example, you might find that you are the only person that provides a certain treatment in any particular area; in which case you might want to take advantage of the marketing for that treatment.
These are simply aspects in your business where you may be losing your social capital. The question to ask is “Where might you be losing your customers?” For example, you might find that although you spend much of your resources on acquiring customers you may not be placing any emphasis on keeping them, so you need to work on this.
Often ideas are abundant but how do you know which one to follow and which ones to drop? How do you know which ideas are in sync with your decision-making? Simply by asking the right questions you and your team can work towards plugging in the holes and creating profitable practice growth.
Understanding yourself and your business becomes key in an uncertain and unpredictable world since it is one of the things that you can have some control over. Knowing where your company lies in a competitive market helps you to strategically position yourself to be noticed and to grow into a successful practice.
DWB working in close association with The Perfect Smile Advanced Training Institute