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Zimbabwean startups, now is the perfect time to carry out your SWOT analysis

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As a founder and leader of a (tech) business start up I always make it a priority to find time to sit and reflect on my and my business’s performances at the end of each year.

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Typically this involves doing the financial statements but it also involves an outlook of the coming year in the form of a SWOT analysis.

If you don’t do this already you should follow my lead. To that end, I will provide a typical SWOT analysis for a typical Zimbabwean tech startup/business.

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What is SWOT analysis anyway?

It is a business technique you can use to enumerate the: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats of your business and hopefully come up the strategies to exploit and counter these respectively. Below I have tried to come up with a categorised list of what these may look like for a typical business.

Strengths

This refers to the strengths that your business has over its rivals; the secret sauce that makes your special. What is it that makes your better than everyone else? What are your organisation’s unique selling points (USP)?These tend to be internal i.e. found within your organisation:

  • Your skills for example knowledge of cutting edge programming languages/frameworks such as GO, Angular, Laravel and Node.js
  • A secret algorithm to tackle a universal problem for which people are willing to pay for.
  • Better location.
  • Great marketing skills

Weaknesses

Everyone makes mistakes and everyone has weaknesses on which they could use some improvements. The height of folly is to think that you are perfect. Be honest with yourself and identify these examples could be:

  • Unfamiliarity with new technologies that can possibly future-proof your code and businesses and result in savings e.g I have always hated Javascript  and associated it with alert (“Annoying box”). I barely understand it.
  • Unintuitive User Interface (UI). The way you understand your product is not always the way people approach it. I know, I increased engagement by 500% just by changing the UI to something that I distaste.
  • Doing only the things you like to do and not things you hate but have to do.
  • Prioritising technology instead of customers
  • Paltry business skills. If you think your awesome Tech is going to sell and market itself your are an idiot. If you think financial planning is optional you are a fool.

Opportunities

No matter how stark the future looks no matter how difficult things may seem there is almost always an opportunity to be taken advantage of. Opportunities tend to be external. Take time to list these opportunities that you might be missing.

  • What trends are you aware of and have not been taking advantage of. Examples include containerisation, Angular, SaaS, remote working etc. Some of these can actually save you money and help you concentrate on your core business.
  • Demographic changes
  • Changes in social attitudes e.g more people are embracing online businesses
  • Changes in technology which you can modify and bring onto the local market

Threats

These refer to the axe hanging above your head; the nuke button that might obliterate your business from existence. It also includes the obstacles standing between you and pay dirt. Examples include:

  • Neurotic and unpredictable government policies. You wake up one morning and your perfectly legit business has been banned and is now illegal.
  • Obsolescence for example your Windows XP core code no longer works on the latest platforms and it was your main source of revenue.
  • Uncertain Macroeconomic environments. Suddenly all Visa/Mastercard payments stop going through due to the bond note proliferation. Your payment system that relied on bond notes is toast and you cannot pay for AWS.
  • A tech giant appropriates your unpatentable business idea and implements it.

Things to bear in mind

  • While SWOT analysis is more of an art than a science try to use precise language and come up with measurable strategies. For example to learn Angular in the coming month
  • Prioritize the most important factors and come up with strategies to counter potential problems and exploit potential opportunities
  • Incorporate the results of your SWOT analysis into your strategy formulation process it’s pointless to know your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats without doing anything about them.
  • SWOT is one of many tools and strategies that can help your manage your tech business.

SWOT analysis helps to ensure that your business is operating to its potential. It will help ensure your business survives, is more profitable and grows. 2017 is going to be an uncertain year, you need all the help you can get in managing your business.

Image credit: beggslawoffices.com


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