The SWOT analysis is a business development tool used is strategic planning. Developing your business strategy and strategic thinking in orthodontics are important methods to improve your business metrics and outcomes. Patient care is a key component in the clinical care we provide, and developing a business strategy is extremely important for the business we support.
S – Strengths
W – Weaknesses
O – Opportunities
T – Threats
The SWOT analysis is encouraged when an initial or a continuous business plan is being developed. This plan is a critical component in setting practice growth in motion and staying on a continuous path of improvement. The key to a strategic plan is to take account of where you are now, where you want to go, and what you will do to get there.
The key in identifying your strengths, is placing focus on the positive things you are doing. By acknowledging them, you can work to nurture and expand them. These should come both from your perspective, as well as the perspective of your patient base. Some areas to consider include: Knowledge and reputation, tangible assets, competitive advantage, company culture, quality service, patient experience, and innovative ability
Recognizing weaknesses stems from the concept of self-awareness. You should be well aware of what you are good at, but be honest and caring in the fact that we all have weaknesses. That gives us the opportunity to improve those weaknesses, and perhaps turn them into strengths. Plugging holes in your organization or your systems allows you to gain tremendous improvement and reduce stress. Take a look at: Your vulnerabilities, market weaknesses, what needs improvement, poor timescales, falling behind competition, are there limited resources, outdated technologies, issues with reliability of data, or poor planning.
Almost any challenge presents you with an opportunity. When focused on strategic thinking, opportunities abound. Take a look at your strengths and weaknesses for inspiration to many opportunities for your practice. Some of these include: Changes in the market, emerging technology, competitor vulnerability, global influences, changes in social patterns, and rapid growth rate.
Threats are obstacles you face. They are not necessarily bad situations. Especially when you set high standards for your team and don’t compromise on those standards. We should work with threats or work beyond them to make the changes we desire. It is important to acknowledge threats to mitigate any potential damage they could instigate. Some potential threats out there involve: Political or legislative issues, emerging competitors, a shift in consumer behavior, bad debt or cash flow issues, competition for talent, and poor management strategies
When utilizing the SWOT analysis, involve your team in the exercise. It is important to prepare and ensure you are using accurate data and metrics of where your practice is. The analysis should be detailed and not based on guesswork. Accurate and relevant data in orthodontics is an asset. There are data sources out there from advisory groups, consultants, as well as comparison data from third parties that can help your decision making.
Plans without action are but a dream. Remember that once you have setup your strategic plan and reviewed the SWOT analysis with your team, it takes action to make it happen. Set a list of goals and action items from your SWOT exercise. Setting reach goals and manageable goals will help with your success.