You’re seeking investors. You missed last year’s business goals. You’re considering a second location. Any of these milestones could require a big shift in your small business plan. Here’s how to audit your business strategy to prepare for the future.
SWOT Analysis Framework
You’ll build your internal audit by analyzing your business’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT). This popular analysis matrix is key in strategic planning, and best done on a regular basis. If it’s your first time, prepare for some big discoveries as you conduct a strategic audit. (You can also do a SWOT analysis on a particular product or vertical of your business.)
In this framework, strengths and weaknesses are internal elements — meaning your own expertise, products, resources, branding, audiences, operations, finances, etc. You’ll find strengths and weakness on the grid’s top row. On the bottom row, left to right, are opportunities and threats. These external factors can include opportunities and threats in developing markets, competitors, industry changes, strategic alliances, new technologies and more.
Business Strategy Audit Checklist Questions
You may have obvious observations for your evaluation. For example, maybe a competitor just closed its doors, you boast a thriving online community or your supplier has recently increased its prices. But you’ll want to dig deeper. The following questions can serve as the foundation of your business strategy audit checklist.
What are our objectives? Remember, your goals from three years ago may not be relevant today. Revisit your business plan to evaluate your mission statement and business objectives.
What are our resources? Audit any resources currently owned, including buildings, land, cash, capital and human resources.
What are our core competencies? Determine where your business stands in quality, service, cost and flexibility. What needs to change?
What are our processes and policies? Inventory any software, programs and guiding documents. Could someone else successfully run your business? Your crucial business policies and processes should not live only in your head.
Who are our customers? How are they different from your target demographic? Think through how to merge or capitalize on the two.
Who are our competitors? Scan the market for new competitors (and evaluate your current ones). How do their pricing, products and services compare to yours?
What do we offer? Identify your current product, service, expertise, etc., and why it succeeds — or doesn’t. What value does it add to your company?
What are we missing? Consider your business’s potential opportunities to create or expand new products, services or markets.
What are the market and economic trends? Is your industry changing because of new technology or regulations? Detail how this will affect your business this year and in five years.
It’s very likely the answers to these questions have changed since you created your original business strategy. After all, that’s why you’re conducting a business strategy audit in the first place. Executing a successful SWOT analysis — and revising your business plan as necessary — will help ensure your company’s continued success.
Are You Protected?
Protecting your business is an essential part of securing its future. Contact your Farm Bureau agent to make sure you have the coverage you need to protect your small business.