About starting that business plan and a thing called SWOT analysis.
IN THIS BLOG:
- Starting that business plan
- The meaning of SWOT
- How to SWOT away
I have to say, in fashion school we didn’t learn much about being an entrepreneur or freelancer (which is ridiculous, because lots of art/fashion students end up being just that). So I pretty much had to start from scratch when it came to doing research about writing a business plan. I had never done that before, and had no idea what I wanted to do exactly. I knew I wanted to ‘be my own boss,’ and ‘make a business with my creativity,’ but I also realized that this was too vague, and was miles away from where I needed to be. So in my research I stumbled over the SWOT analysis: a classic way to analyze yourself and/or your business. Focussing on your Strengths, Weaknesses, and Opportunities. Maybe you have heard about it before, or maybe you have no idea what I’m talking about (it’s completely safe, don’t worry! :)). Regardless, it’s a great place to start. So without further ado, let me dive right into the Tip of the Week! Make yo’self a SWOT (Yesss! You can do it!).
Tip of the Week: SWOT away! Yay!
When I started Bobbinhood I made a big analysis of yours truly, moi, me.
I wrote down the very famous SWOT analysis. Normally it’s used for businesses, but I did it for a person: me. I knew I wanted to make a living as a creative (entrepreneur), I just didn’t quite know how yet. So I figured it would be a good idea to check in with myself first and assess my strengths and weaknesses from a personal perspective. It taught me so much and still helps me to this day! It made it so much easier for me to say ‘Nope, that is not a good idea, it doesn’t suit me.’ Or, ‘Ok, good idea, but I will need help with it.’
You’ll see that there are looooots of SWOT charts out there, so go ahead and just Google ‘SWOT template’ and print one of, OR make a pretty one in your notebook (I bet you bought yourself a brand new pretty notebook when you started this right? Tell me you did :)).
Get yourself SWOT’ed in three easy steps:
1. Understanding SWOT
If you’ve never heard of the SWOT analysis before, let me give you a short explanation of what SWOT stands for:
Strengths – your powers, things you’re good at.
Weaknesses – your struggles, things that are hard for you or don’t come as easily/naturally.
Opportunities – things that will help you on your creative entrepreneuring journey.
Threats – things that will make your creative entrepreneuring journey a challenge.
Strengths and Weaknesses are about yourself (internal).
Opportunities and Threats are about your environment (external).
There’s a lot written about SWOT, if you want to know more just Google away!
2. Ask yourself questions and be kind with your answers
To get warmed up, ask yourself the following questions:
- What do I love to do? What gives me energy?
- What do I avoid/don’t like/feel uncomfortable with?
- What did/do I like at school/work?
Start by focussing on things you are good at, the things that give you energy. Celebrate these and treat them as the most important. Then you can begin to reflect on your weaknesses. Be honest about them, but try to keep them separate from any judgement.
I happen to loooove analyzing and asking questions like this, but I know that for many it can feel scary or even daunting. Hopefully I can help you to see the fun in it.
Self-analyzing in this way will help turn problems into solutions, but it all comes down to the language you use. How you speak to yourself matters!
For example, saying to yourself, ‘I really suck at selling, it will never work out!’ is totally different to saying ‘I struggle with sales.’ or ‘Selling my products makes me uncomfortable.’ If you leave out the judgement, it makes space for you to find a solution: ‘I need to find a way to sell my awesome products’.
Now you can go back and take a look at your strengths to see which of them could help you achieve this. Maybe you’re really good at learning new skills, or are great at getting others to be as passionate about something as you, or maybe you love social media (a great selling platform!).
3. Fill in your SWOT and don’t forget to ask for help
Scribble away and fill in your SWOT. Another important thing to do is to ask others to answer these same questions about you as well. Find a family member, a friend, an (ex) colleague, or all of them! Ask them what they think are your biggest strengths and weaknesses.
Ask people whose opinions you truly trust and again, be kind to yourself and ask for positive feedback.
Let me show you mine to give you an idea. On the picture here you can see the one I made just before starting Bobbinhood. It’s in Dutch so let me loosely translate it:
Strengths and Opportunities*:
I am good at making visuals and finished products -> I love doing this!
- HIGH PRODUCTIVITY
Lots of ideas!
Designs come from ‘solutions’.
- ENTHUSIASTIC STYLE
Recognizable style, good ‘handwriting’.
I love to explain and simplify things.
Can feel like pfffff another thing on my list -> try to see it as a long term relationship
- NO SALES TALENT
Trust the products! Let them do part of the job. Stay close to yourself. Use product a lot, let miss M (my daughter) play with it. Find a way to interact with social media that fits me, know what your target audience does (reads, where do they like to go, what magazins do they read, etc). Make a good marketing plan.
- SCARED OF SOCIAL MEDIA
Find your own way that suits you. Don’t be afraid to try. Search for inspiration. Knowledge = power.
- LOTS OF IDEAS, NO STRUCTURE
Find a routine that you like that includes all your themes. Write all your ideas down first so that you can let them sink in.
- ONLY ONCE
I only like to do projects once. Short concentration span. I get bored easily and lose my focus -> I need a lot of change.
*I know now that it is better to really make 4 separate categories, here I took strength & opportunities together, and then weaknesses & threats. When I made this I did not have a solid business idea yet. This SWOT was more about me, what I had learned from my first business venture.
It was so fun to see this now after five years. I love how I talk to myself about my weaknesses. Some things have changed, many haven’t. I love service and customer care now and that was something I really hated when I had my own label. Finding this SWOT made me think, what shifted there? I think it was all about the product. Let me elaborate: My first business was a womens label and I made a small production of every garment. But women come in all shapes and sizes (luckily), and it was hard to make everybody happy. Some would complain the trousers were too short, and others found them too long. With what I sell now (screen print supplies), you can either like screen printing or not, but there is no ‘taste’ or ‘size’ involved. People know what they are buying so there’s no surprises. That doesn’t mean nobody should start a clothing label, it just means it’s good to think about what kind of business/job/service fits you. In this case, I made a weakness my strength because I knew what kind of service I could offer: I love helping people out and giving tips, I love providing that kind of service. I don’t like hemming pants…. It’s always a good idea to see if there’s a way to change your weakness into a strength by changing your approach. If that doesn’t work, you can always see if there’s anyone that can help you take over that part!
Also re-reading this, it totally makes sense why our Creative Workflow was such a game changer for me!
Have fun making your SWOT. If you are having a hard time doing it, tell yourself it will bring you closer to your dream job!
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