John D. Mayfield, ABR, CRB, e-PRO, GRI, is a sales coach, author, and broker/owner of Mayfield Real Estate in Farmington, Mo. You can contact Mayfield through his Web site, www.BusinessTechGuy.com.
Incorporating SWOT Into Your Business
The SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) technique can help you determine the best way to move toward your goals.
May 1, 2010
As the old saying goes, insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results. Unfortunately, this statement applies to many real estate pros.
Each day, week, and month seem to bring the same tasks and responsibilities for a lot of people, yet many hope for increased sales, greater productivity, and other positive outcomes — just from continuing to do the same thing. But the truth is that business will not improve if nothing changes.
Think about it for a moment: If you aren't doing anything new, how can you expect significantly different results? Sure, you might have a good month here and there, and see a boost in your sales for a short time due to certain circumstances and situations that aren't really in your control. But the prospects for lasting improvement when you're doing the same thing over and over again are slim.
How can you make the adjustments needed to see your goals fulfilled in the coming months? It's as easy as remembering four letters: S-W-O-T!
SWOT is an acronym that stands for:
- Strengths: attributes that can help you achieve your goals.
- Weaknesses: characteristics that can impede your aims.
- Opportunities: external factors that aid you.
- Threats: external factors that impede you.
The idea behind SWOT is to evaluate these four areas as they apply to your life, and then make the necessary adjustments based on your honest appraisal. The key is honesty! Without it, this is an exercise in delusion.
You must evaluate each area as truly as possible about how you believe your current business practices align with each description. Let's take a closer look at what you should do by taking a blank sheet of paper and labeling along the left side each of the words that make up the SWOT acronym. Leave some space next to each word to complete your answers.
Take a moment and list any and all strengths you believe you possess as a real estate professional. What is it that you do exceptionally well, meaning better than most of the competition? Where do you excel? For example, technical prowess is a strength for some practitioners, while others might add their presentation or negotiation proficiency. It's important for you to note those areas of your daily business lives that are easy for you to implement and what you believe are good points about yourself.
Repeat the same process above, but instead record your weaknesses — the things that you don't do as well as many or most other real estate pros. This is where the importance of being honest really comes into play. Remember, it's fine to admit your shortcomings in this exercise. By taking a moment and understanding where the weak links are in your business, you can then understand where your focus needs to shift to achieve your goals, or even formulate entirely new objectives.
Now that you've completed a thorough list of your strengths and weaknesses, what adjustments should you make? There are two schools of thoughts about what you should do at this stage. The first says that you should focus on fixing your weak points. The second says that you should focus on your strengths, those areas of your business that you excel at, and find help to assist you with your weak links in your business.
I suggest that individuals must make the adjustments according to their level of comfort and ability. To use my own SWOT analysis as an example, technology and presentation skills are my strong points. I'm good at giving seminars, negotiating transactions, and closing deals. However, my weaknesses are in organization, paperwork, and day-to-day tasks that can ultimately make or break me as a real estate professional.
To improve my business, I had to acquire help for my business's weak areas. That required adding a person to be a part of my team, which in turn freed me to concentrate on the things I'm good at and I love to do. There is no right or wrong way to approach your strengths and weaknesses, but the ultimate goal is to do what it takes to achieve your goals.
Opportunities and Threats
Your next two tasks are to list the opportunities you see along with potential threats based on your specific, current objectives. For instance, unemployment and foreclosure levels are problems for many real estate professionals. but some of them turned those threats into opportunities by learning how to help defaulting borrowers save their homes through loan modifications, working with lenders and borrowers in short-sale transactions, and furthering their education by becoming distressed property specialists.
This is not about taking advantages of others' misfortunes. It's a reminder that when we find a threat is in our midst, there is usually an opportunity associated with the obstacle. As real estate professionals, we have a wonderful opportunity to encourage and assist people who are struggling by providing solutions to help them deal with challenges.
Applying SWOT on a regular basis can help you take your real estate career to a new level. By closely examining these areas on a consistent and regular basis, you can ensure that that definition of insanity does not apply to your life.