The success of your small business depends on your ability to evaluate how you’re doing. In particular, you have to understand your true strengths by using a realistic appraisal process. In addition, you should take a hard look at your weaknesses to determine where you need to improve. Because you may tend to be overly-optimistic about your strengths and overly-pessimistic about your weaknesses, use a systematic process to assess your company. You can develop a list of strengths and weaknesses to guide your decision making.

Answer questions about your strengths. Ask yourself what specific advantages you have over your competition. Look at what you do better than anyone else does. Examine whether you have cost savings that other companies in your industry don’t, such as a special arrangement with a vendor or access to lower-cost employees. Write down your unique selling position — the benefits that only you offer to customers.

Eliminate strengths. To avoid being overly-optimistic, re-evaluate some of the strengths you’ve listed. For example, if you sell the same exact products as a competitor, then the quality of your products don’t really count as a strength. Similarly, your improved sales volume doesn’t count as a strength if it is still less than your competition. Get rid of items on your list of strengths that don’t provide you with clear advantages.

Describe your weaknesses in specific areas. Examine your productivity and determine whether it needs to improve. Ask yourself what pitfalls in sales and marketing you have encountered in the past that you want to avoid in the future. Look at your cash flow and identify any times of the month or the quarter when you consistently run too low on cash. Identify sales or customers you have lost, and figure out why you lost them. Take a level-headed look at your personnel and note problem personalities, laggards and employees who don’t seem to contribute as much as they should.

Overcome weaknesses. Don’t cross weaknesses off your list through a process of reasoning like you do with strengths. Instead, create concrete plans to address weaknesses. Measure your progress and effectiveness in executing those plans and once you have rectified weaknesses, cross them off your list.


Ask trusted customers and clients to help you assess your strengths and weaknesses. You may discover attributes of your business you never thought about.