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One of the most basic lessons you learn in first year business school is the SWOT analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. And it’s a great framework to apply to your business to understand what you do well, what you can improve on, and where the greatest threats to your company lie.
But how about a SWOT analysis on ourselves? Where are your blind spots? What do you struggle with? Here’s a simple framework to give it a go:
Strengths: What are your strengths as an entrepreneur? What do you do particularly well? Or what, in the words of Chris Sacca, what’s your “unfair advantage?”
Perhaps you’re great with product design. Or perhaps your distinguishing characteristic is your ability to sell. Or maybe you can work a room like nobody’s business. Knowing your strengths tells you what added value you can uniquely bring to your business.
Weaknesses: You might be a terrible planner. Or you might procrastinate like nobody’s business. Or you might dread making sales. But you might also feel uncomfortable admitting it or talking about your weaknesses. But unacknowledged weaknesses are business killers. They slowly eat away at the core of your business, with little hope of ever changing the situation. So pay particular attention to weaknesses as you do your personal SWOT – and be as honest as possible with yourself as you do.
Opportunities: Opportunities can be chances to build on your strengths and rectify your weaknesses – either through self-improvement or by adding additional members to the team with complimentary skills. But of course, opportunities can only be leveraged if weaknesses are recognized and acknowledged – yet another reason that honesty is so essential in the process of conducting your personal SWOT.
Threats: Finally, threats can come from multiple places. Your skills may no longer fit the needs of the business you’re in. You might face competition from others who do have these skills – and if you’re unable to acknowledge (and work on) your weaknesses – while at the same time, leveraging and accentuating your strengths, you could find yourself in a precarious professional position. And along these lines is the threat that you as the leader might lack the self-awareness or courage to look yourself in the mirror and conduct a honest, self-reflective SWOT analysis in the first place.
Doing an honest, self-reflective personal SWOT analysis is useful for anyone at any stage of their career. But it’s especially useful for entrepreneurs, who need such a wide-ranging set of skills to achieve their goals and find success in their business. Have you conducted a personal SWOT analysis? If not, what’s holding you back?
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Andy Molinsky is the author of Reach and Global Dexterity.
Originally published at Inc.com.