Turning 40 last year was like a big ol’ permission slip for me to finally do, have, and be all I ever wanted. But perhaps the biggest gift was having the opportunity to coach other women to do the same, particularly when it comes to their businesses.
There comes a point when we realize that life’s just too short to keep doing what’s expected of us; to keep following other people’s rules; to keep working on ourselves in order to strengthen our weaknesses. I want us to focus on our strengths instead, and have them become our superpowers.
When I applied for my first outside sales job, the guy who coached me for my interview was getting his MBA at the time, and introduced me to the SWOT analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. I like having structures and frameworks for things, but that one always felt so incomplete to me—and in a sales role, the emphasis was always on beefing up the weaknesses and mitigating the threats (with the thing I was selling, of course).
But over the past 3 years, as I devoted myself to the actual study of sales and applied what I learned IRL, it became glaringly obvious that our customers are far more affected by our soft skills than our business acumen, and that the intangibles deserve a LOT more of our focus—especially in women-owned businesses, because things like empathy, attention to detail, and anticipating needs (to name a few) come so naturally to us.
So that’s where I focus most of my attention when I’m performing a qualitative business analysis for my private clients, because that’s where the biggest impacts can be made when the right strategies are put in place. It’s not as succinct as SWOT, but the 10-step framework I use now feels a whole lot more complete to me.
The next time you’re evaluating a new project or offering, try running it through my framework. When you start seeing your strengths as your superpowers, no perceived weakness or threat can keep you from doing, having, and being all you ever wanted.
- WHY. Why do you believe this product/service/initiative should exist?
- Potential Challenges. Life gets in the way of things all the time. What could pop up during the time you’re creating this that could delay or derail it (or you)?
- Support. Who or what support systems will you rely on?
- Long-term Gain. What does success look like 12-18 months down the road?
- Short-term Gain. What wins will you celebrate over the next 90 days?
- Soft Skills. What intangibles can only YOU bring to this effort?
- Solid Skills. What experience and education (ideally from past failures) can you apply to make this project successful?
- Immediate Focus. What needs your attention right now?
- Future Focus. Where, how, and to what will your focus shift at each new phase of this project?
- Openness. Who will you meet along the way, or what feedback will you seek to not only make this project a success, but set yourself up for the next one(s)?