Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Is Your SWOT Team Ready?

What are Your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats in Your Publishing Venture?

Putting together a business plan can be daunting, especially for creative types (i.e.: authors). Authors are often perplexed as to the inner workings of a business plan. Over the next few blog posts, I'll explain a few things that can help you dig deeper into the business end, without causing too much pain and anguish.

Here are some examples of SWOT items you'll want to examine:

STRENGTHS (usually in your control): These are things that you currently have that give you a unique selling proposition (an edge over your competition) that you can focus your marketing efforts on. Knowing your strengths helps you deliver a product that your readers and buyers will love. 
  • Your knowledge of subject matter
  • Your platform
  • Ability to adjust timeliness to market
  • Features you are able to include
  • Financial resources
  • Time availability and presentation skills
  • Fans
  • Good distribution strategy

What else makes you and your book special and gives you an edge?

WEAKNESSES (usually in your control): These are things that you either need to overcome or accept. This isn't a job interview where you are going to say "My biggest weakness is that I care too much and work too hard."  Dig down deep to know what weaknesses you currently have in your platform, your marketing, your book, and your businesses. Then figure out what to do about them.
  • Limited resources (time and money)
  • A narrow window to get your book out
  • Limited knowledge (or unknown author)
  • Poor product development
  • Too many book printed or not enough
  • Poor distribution strategy

What do you need to improve to make you and your product or service more viable?

OPPORTUNITIES (usually out of your control): Here, we are looking at what else could possibly affect you. Is your book about a person who could end up in the news? Did you write about how astronomy works when they could discover a new planet? Could your once crazy idea of an adult coloring book suddenly have a new market because some psychologist said it calms people better than valium?
  • Unexpected news pickup for you, your book, or especially, your topic
  • A law change in your favor
  • A celebrity is seen using it
  • Changes in product environment
  • The subject of your book becomes news
  • Sudden market interest and ability to scale

Are you keeping an eye on the world outside of your window for these opportunities?

THREATS (usually out of your control): Finally, have you tied your boat to a moving dock? Can something outside of your control have a significant impact on your success? Is someone else coming out with another book at the same time for the same niche audience (Hint: this could also be an opportunity)? Will the distributor that you are counting on suddenly go out of business with all of your stock in their warehouse?  "Threats" is a hard one because you are testing the unknown, but it is valuable because it forces you to look outside of your own four walls.  Cast a wide net here.
  • Time (election cycle noise during your launch)
  • Disorganized delivery methods for scaling up or down
  • Legislative changes not in your topic's favor
  • Change in the product environment (e.g. a book about a website craze that unexpectedly decides to change platforms a month after your book's release)
  • Financial market catastrophe
  • An endorser commits a heinous crime

Are you building time bombs or other features into your book that may cause early obsolescence? Are outside forces a significant factor?
An entrepreneur should always look at this analysis in depth before going into business, as well as assessing each area continuously. This is a dynamic process, with ebbs and flows; what is a threat today could be gone tomorrow.  What is unseen today, could be an opportunity tomorrow.  

Besides, it's kind of fun.

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