August 24, 2008

Why Did They Go Out Of Business?

By Paul Bieber

Make a list of your seven strongest competitors over the last three years. Odds are at least two of them are out of business, and one, while still in business, is no longer a competitor. If you can figure out why they went out of business, and prevent these situations in your company, you may have a long future. Let’s try!

So, write down seven top competitors to your broadest lines over the last three years, ignoring if they are currently in business or not. For each one, take a few minutes and write out all of the strong points of each competitor, and in a second column, write out the weaknesses of each. You will find the ones that are no longer in business have a longer list of weaknesses, or one weakness so overpowering that you wrote it in CAPITAL LETTERS.

Combine the lists of weaknesses, and on another page, a list of the strengths.

Do the same thing, honestly, for your company. Stand outside your own shadow, and write honestly. You don’t have to show this to anyone, so be as candid as you can be. Include your own personal strengths and weaknesses right along with the company’s.

Bake in the oven for 45 minutes. Oh, wait….that’s another recipe.

If the weakness you wrote for your company match the weaknesses of the companies that are out of business, you now have a blueprint to change your company as quickly as you can.

If you see that your strengths are in the same categories as your competitors weakness, go after these areas. Promote and advertise your strength. Invest in your strengths to improve your facilities and your people. Your weaknesses will probably be the strengths of the current companies. Start a ‘weakness-of-the-month’ plan, trying to improve one area a month within your firm. Look at the other’s strengths, and use those as benchmarks for your growth.

Make a list, check it twice, and suddenly, your company is better, (translate=more profitable). This is not rocket science. You can do it. Sometimes you need an outsider to help you understand your own strengths and weaknesses and to help you lay out a path to improve. No matter—it is up to you to do it the improving

Nobody knows your strengths and weaknesses better than you do. If you are honest about your company and your competitors, you will have a handy checklist for a year’s worth of improvements in your hands.