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In speaking with CPAs across the country, I've found that one area that often gets overlooked is the SWOT analysis. This is not something that can be done and then put on the shelf. This is an ongoing initiative that needs to be re-visited annually or semi-annually, since the firm does not remain static, and every change brings new opportunities.
For the uninitiated, SWOT refers to strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats—a four-point planning system for any business venture. Firms and companies should consider the SWOT for their whole enterprise—but that's just the beginning. In addition, key individuals, practice areas and niche groups within the firm should be going through this process as well for individual units, identifying what they do well and recognizing also what areas need improvement as they build plans for each entity.
Conducting a SWOT analysis allows for a thoughtful approach to identifying the distinctive characteristics of the executives, team leaders, industry experts and other decision makers; makes it easier to build a brand; and strengthens the firm’s reputation.
Drawing on the data you collect internally, combined with responses from external clients and colleagues regarding what they think are your greatest strengths and weaknesses, you can develop a very powerful, targeted marketing and business development plan to serve as a guide for your firm or company.
As you go through the process, keep asking yourself: What do I do better than anyone else? What does our firm do better than other firms? Prepare to answer this honestly—seeing your flaws and your distinctive competitive advantages—and prepare to leverage the knowledge to grow your firm and achieve new heights.
Some examples of a SWOT analysis are available from Mplans.
About the author:
Sally Glick is CMO and principal of Sobel & Co. LLC. She was named Accounting Marketer of the Year for 2003 and was voted into the AAM Hall of Fame in 2007. She can be reached at email@example.com.