Solopreneurs and small business owners rise and fall on the market perception of their brand, also known as one’s professional standing. Because of this, the newest merits ongoing monitoring, enhancement and promotion as a part of strategies designed to support new business acquisition and encourage repeat business. The target is to build and maintain a good client list. A useful way to review and evaluate your brand is with what many experts consider the gold standard of strategic planning, the SWOT Analysis.
Every 18 – 24 months, self-employed professionals will benefit from examining the viability of the brand, to better understand what activities enhance the brand and what may weaken it. Conduct a SWOT Analysis and use what you discover as the foundation of a strategic plan for your brand.
Strengths: expertise, competitive advantages, A-list clients, referral sources, strategic partnerships, educational or professional credentials, financial resources, influential relationships. They are internally generated and within your control.
Leveraging resources to update the types of clients you work with
Increasing sales or billable hours by a particular proportion
creating a strategy to acquire more repeat business
Developing a strategy that will persuade clients to hire you for more lucrative jobs
Weaknesses: whatever challenges your brand. Competitors, ineffective advertising, bad customer service, weak perceived value of your services and products. These are inner and within your control. Potential activities include:
Deciding which inadequacies have the maximum negative impact on earnings
Identifying gaps that may be quickly or inexpensively remedied
Knowing how to minimize obligations–that business practices can you modify, professional credentials you may earn, relationships you may cultivate? These are external and beyond your control, yet you may be able to retool and benefit from their existence. Good information about business conditions in your marketplace helps business owners to evaluate and envision the potential of short-term and long-term benefits and learn how to find the pay-off. Consider the following:
What new developments can you leverage to bring prestige and money to your venture?
Do you see ROI in supplying new products or services?
Are there good clients you might successfully sign or lapsed clients that, with outreach, could be willing to reactivate?
Is there a niche market you can successfully enter?
Hazards: conditions likely to harm your brand, or your ability to acquire clients and create sufficient billable hours. All these are outside and beyond your control, yet you may have the ability to retool and escape or decrease the harm caused by their existence. This element requires your immediate attention, because it carries the potential to end, or seriously cripple, your brand and business.
Has an important contact left his/her organization, leaving you at the mercy of their new decision-maker, who has their own buddies to employ? Or has there been a merger which resulted in the downgrading of the sway of your main contact, who may lose the ability to green-light jobs that you manage?
Has a well-connected and competitive competitor appeared on the scene, ready to consume your market share and customer list by means of a better known brand, stronger relationships, a larger marketing budget, or other game-changing competitive benefits?
If your client contact has moved on, take that individual to coffee or lunch and try to produce the professional relationship portable. If your contact has lost influence in the new organization chart, take him/her out to coffee and get information about the replacement, who might hire you for another project if it’s scheduled to begin quickly.
When competition has intensified, do everything possible to offer superior customer service, assert your experience, step up your media, enhance your thought-leader credentials and nurture your client relationships.
Implementing a strategy of protective action, for instance, a brand relaunch or a pivot into more hospitable company gardening, might be necessary. Stay abreast of current and potential developments in the industries you serve. Communicate with clients and remain current concerning the state of their priorities and concerns. Good relationships will provide you the resources of time and information which will let you evaluate and regroup.