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More than 99% of all the species that have ever lived on Earth are now extinct.

That’s an estimated five million species, eradicated by changing conditions and superior rivals.

It’s a similar situation in the business world.

Businesses that don’t adapt to the changing wants and needs of the market often fall prey to changes in the market and competitors who take your best idea and do it better.

Like Blackberries and Apples.

Why do businesses fail?

Businesses that are destined to fail include:

  • The dinosaurs that never change or move with the times and still think the old ways are the best
  • The sitting targets that rely on one good idea and never develop it further, leaving their competitors to swoop in and steal their crown with something better
  • The blinkered businesses that are so inwardly focused, they can’t see the threats approaching from outside.

Businesses that survive include:

  • The progressives that are constantly evolving their products and processes
  • The innovators that develop their offering according to the wants and needs of the market
  • The opportunists that seek out new openings and take advantage of them
  • The predators who increase their market share by undercutting their rivals.

They are more likely to survive because they are committed to continual improvement inside their business and alert to changes happening outside the business.

Do a regular SWOT Analysis.

A SWOT Analysis is an exercise that helps to identify the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats relating to a business.

To identify your Strengths and Weaknesses, you need to look at what’s going on inside your company.

To find the Opportunities and Threats you have to look at what’s going on outside it.

Your strengths.

Start by identifying what makes you stronger than your competitors.

Consider:

  • Your value proposition — what your company does best
  • Your USPs — what your company does better than its competitors
  • Any rights or patents you have
  • Any experts or specialists you employ
  • The capital and funds you have available. 

Your weaknesses.

Now look at potential weaknesses you might want to rectify.

Consider:

  • What your company is lacking e.g. funds, expertise, technology
  • What your competitors do better than you and how they do it
  • Where your resources might be falling short
  • What is reducing your profits
  • What is increasing your costs.

Your opportunities.

Look for opportunities to improve, differentiate, expand or diversify.

Consider:

  • New or emerging markets you could be targeting
  • Areas with low competition
  • Positive media stories relating to your industry or brand
  • Ways to use new and emerging technologies for automation, communication and improving your performance
  • New products/services that would fit well with your existing brand
  • Ways to be a forerunner in your industry.

Your threats.

Look for outside threats that could harm your business.

Consider:

  • New or emerging competitors
  • New or emerging technologies
  • Upcoming changes to regulations or legislation
  • Things that could adversely affect your profits or unavoidably increase your costs
  • Negative media stories or changing attitudes relating to your industry or brand
  • Other brands leading the way in more advanced approaches e.g. ethical, environmental or technological.

Using this information.

The next step is to decide what action to take that will reaffirm your position and avoid any negative consequences.

Look at your business strengths.

  • Are there more ways to capitalise on these?
  • What could you do to strengthen them further?
  • Could your Strengths allow you to take advantage of any of the Opportunities you identified?
  • How can you use your Strengths to minimise the Threats you have identified?

Look at your business weaknesses.

  • Will your Weaknesses leave you more vulnerable to the Threats you have identified?
  • Can you see any ways to eliminate or compensate for the Weaknesses you have identified?
  • Could your Weaknesses be diminished if you took advantage of some of the Opportunities you identified?

Identifying these crucial elements and responding proactively to them is just one way to negotiate the difficulties of an ever-changing market and the ruthless competitors that operate within it.

About the author

I’m Jenny Lucas, a freelance copywriter and content creator based in Leicester, UK.

If you need help with writing for your business, I can help.

You can find out more about me and the services I offer by visiting my main website.

Image by Jill White from Pixabay