|Success Attraction suc·cess: (n.) The achievement of something desired, planned, or attempted|
|Secret To Getting Anything?|
Swotting for Success
Not so long ago, I impressed the daylights out of a friend, by showing him his face on my PC's screen. As I tapped away at the minus key, the picture slowly zoomed-out, revealing that it was a picture of the two of us, and it soon became clear where the picture was taken. As I continued to zoom out, more details came into view; the picture was actually a small part of a scanned photograph of the two of us sitting by my desk, watching the monitor. The photo was merely lying on the desk when the high-resolution picture was taken.
Aside from the fact that even just viewing this high-resolution picture took up obscene amounts of disk space and memory, and slowed down my PC to the speed of a Sinclair ZX-81, the story also serves as a fairly long-winded analogy to an important business concept. We constantly lose track of the big-picture; we forget what we're trying to achieve, and get sidelined dealing with email enquiries, financial issues, bug-fixes, submitting our site to the search engines and other day to day tasks. All part of running a small web-based business. The bigger companies have staff to deal with the correspondence, answer the phone, market their products and spend day or weeks on getting their new logo just right. We do not.
But there's a serious risk to this; not only is it incredibly easy to lose track of where you are and what you're doing, chances are you won't even see the threats and opportunities that may be passing you by without you even realising.
Which is why I love the SWOT analysis - one of the few genuinely useful tools that I picked up during my years at the Leeds Business School. SWOT stands for Strengths, Opportunities, Weaknesses and Threats - and offers a fast, simple and powerful tool for internal and external appraisal.
The idea that you as a company should play to your strengths and improve on your weaknesses is a simple and obvious one, but first of all you need to identify them. Ten minutes is all you need to give this a go? and you might well be surprised at just how useful it really is.
What are your strengths? What are you good at? Perhaps it's an established name and reputation, or that of your software. Maybe you have something unique that people need and use, or maybe your current price is what really sets you apart from the competition. Don't go for being modest here - what makes you good? And what makes your software so desirable? Distribution methods could be a strength - if you rely solely on internet distribution, then this is as hands free as its gets. Or maybe your manual that registered users receive is seen as the bees-knees of the PC world.
Chances are that drawing up the list of your strengths brought a few weaknesses to mind. Every potential strength has an equal chance of being a weakness; perhaps you're relatively new to the shareware industry, and don't yet have an established name. Maybe your software isn't really that good, or maybe there's no real demand for it - be honest here, or you're wasting your time. Is there really anything that sets your software apart from the competition? Or are you just one of the many, who will get a certain percentage of the market sales by the simple statistics of random choice? If your sole distribution method is through the internet via downloading, is the file small enough to be a realistic download?
Now we're getting onto the good stuff. Based on your listed strengths and weaknesses, a few possible opportunities must have presented themselves. Perhaps you should be adding your software to more download sites? Not just the big ones, but as many as possible. Think about it - how long does it take you to add your details to Boomer's Shareware Shake-Down? Okay so the chances of someone finding your software there are low, but how many sales do you need to make those two or three minutes worthwhile? Better still, have someone do it for you. What about getting a write-up in a magazine? You don't think the editors already have enough content do you? Take advantage of Al Harberg's service, and get your name out there.
How about producing a CD version of your software, or putting together a printed manual? At the time of writing this article, we're doing a review of an application named Windows Commander, and registered users get a single A4 page folded into a booklet. Know what? We love it! Simple instructions and shortcut key reference; it looks like it's been printed on a decent laser printer and photocopied. And it's as good-looking and professional as some of the printed manuals we receive.
How about different language versions? Perhaps not as difficult to implement as you might think. Don't be constrained here - don't think ideas through to the bitter end before rejecting them, just get them written down.
The nastier part of the process - chances are there are more dark clouds hanging over you than you realise. If one of the basic principles of warfare is to know your enemy, one of the pillars of good business should be to see your threats. Threats can come in many different forms; one of the most likely is competition. Have you had a look at what's out there lately? Do you know who your competition is, what they sell, and how popular they are? Are they more popular than you? If so then why? Maybe new technology is going to pull out the carpet from under your feet, or for that matter new developments. If your software is an animated GIF maker, then you should be watching industry developments in this are very closely right now. Especially if you depend on it to make a living.
Example. At the time of writing this article, Enfish Tracker Pro was one of the most impressive applications that I had ever come across. It allowed me to track data throughout my PC, and does so crossing all boundaries - data type, application source, network, internet and so on. One of the main things that I initially used it for was searching through the many thousands of emails that I had collected over the past few years. At the time I used Eudora Pro, and no matter how carefully I structured sub-directories and groups, hunting for a particular letter can still be fairly time consuming. Enfish was my saviour in this particular arena, and would be still today, had it not been for the release of version 4.2 of Eudora. Among other things, the search features have been vastly improved, and allow me to search using any combination of subject, author, date and so much more. This feature of the Enfish software is now largely redundant.
Keep an eye on new technology - it can sneak up on you quicker than you think. And if your software enhances or improves other products, the next release might leave you stranded. The same principle applies if your software largely depends on the features of a particular operating system. Off the top of my head, I could name more than ten applications that will be totally redundant when Windows 2000 is finally released. You do already know about the new features of this "operating system of the future" don't you?
The SWOT analysis won't produce or create anything for you, it's merely a tool. For many of us, it's main purpose will be to prop open our eyes and force us to lift our heads and see the bigger picture. Focusing on what we're good at and what needs improving is vital, and the importance of seeing the opportunities and threats that are out there can't be overstated. Look at your software and business in general as a trophy. Wipe off the dust, polish the shiny bits, and maybe swing over the spotlight to show it off. Looks good, doesn't it? You might also want to move the vase before it falls on it, oh and for god's sake get that stand fixed before it collapses? Be seen, be sold.
Copyright 2004 Dave Collins
About The Author
Dave Collins is the CEO of SharewarePromotions Ltd., a well established UK-based company working with software and shareware marketing activities, utilising all aspects of the internet. http://www.sharewarepromotions.com and http://www.davetalks.com.
The Other F Word - How Failure Can Be The Key To Your Success
Thomas Edison has done it. Naomi Watts often jokes about it. Sylvester Stallone mastered it. Billy Joel did it with his piano. Even Abraham Lincoln earned a name for himself for doing it many times over. In fact most of us experience it fairly frequently. Some more than others. It's known as the other 'f' word. The difference, however, between the mega-successful and the rest of us ordinary folk is a simple matter of interpretation. I'm talking about 'failure'. Wait! Stop! It's not that bad I promise!
Success is a 6 Letter Word
Let me ask you a question? What must happen for you to feel successful? Do you need to be admired by the people that you care most about? Do you need to have financial abundance? And if so how would you know what financial abundance is? 1 million dollars, 2, 100, a billion?
Affirm Your Intentions - Achieve Your Goals
Affirmations are emotionally driven statements of intention and faith that guide thought and action. Affirmation comes from the Latin firmus, meaning strong. Affirmations recognize and assert the existence of personal truths. These statements can be powerfully effective for developing and strengthening thought patterns, and thus actions, needed to achieve goals. These thought patterns also attract the situations we affirm to be true.
Personal Power: Implementing Change from the Inside Out
Personal power is an INSIDE JOB. It doesn't mean getting other people to do what you want them to; it means getting yourself moving toward your goals. What creates the power is a series of attitudinal realities which you create for yourself and by yourself. Therefore, the key resource in managing change is YOU.
Persistence and Determination: Golden Keys to Reaching Success
"Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'press on' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race." -- Calvin Coolidge
The Disciplines of Success
Success, in the dictionary, is defined as, "The achievement of something desired, planned, or attempted." So why is success in our society defined by the balance in your bank account, the car you drive, or how big your house is? You are successful if you are a lawyer, doctor, or movie actor with a six figure income. You should be able to be called a "success" when you have been able to do anything and everything you have wanted to do in your life. Shouldn't success be defined as being able to do what your passion is in life? Shouldn't you be successful when you have achieved complete happiness? Besides money, wealth should include your spiritual, physical and mental well-being.
Learning From Failure--What To Do When You Blow It!
Becoming successful is not easy. We all get tossed around somewhat in our attempts to win or succeed. Learning opportunities are usually created by the "I-Blew-Its".
Creating Meaningful Success
'No man is an island' the saying goes. The implication is that humans cannot exist alone. I would take the island aphorism a step further and contend that no one can be successful alone. Merely existing day-to-day is not enough. Success must be an essential part of our lives. Individual success builds our personal power, increases joy & fulfillment and grows a strong sense of self-esteem. Regardless of how we define our individual idea of success, it is impossible to manifest that desired outcome alone. Fortunately, women are collaborative by nature. We work well on teams and in efforts for the benefit of others. So why is it so difficult for us to act on behalf of ourselves?
Success After Failure - Even Genghis Khan Lost Some Early Battles
Both the worst and the best of the great achievers had the belief in themselves and the resilience to overcome early failures. One of these was none other than Genghis Khan. There are powerful lessons we can learn from him.
Two Key Success Skills - Take Action Now And Be Bold Enough To Talk
I am writing this article to cement two key success skills in my own mind as well as yours. They are so important that they are worth thinking about every single day.
Celebrate Great Rides
You have been preparing for months. You are in position and you are ready. A swell develops and begins to transform before your very eyes. A monster wave is now bearing down upon you. Your training and instincts kick in as you paddle to meet the motion of your wave. The wave tries to bully you showing it is a fierce competitor. You apply all of your skill and training as you find yourself dropping nearly straight down a mountain of angry water. You maintain your balance and you handle your wave with great skill and superb style. You barely avoid the hazards and have several moments of truth where even in your confidence you are not completely sure you are going to make it. But you do make it. You ride through to where the wave finally breaks taking you elegantly to the shore like royalty arriving on a red carpet.
Shortest Path To Success!
Thoughts move faster than the speed of light.
How To Use The Past, Future, And Present In Attaining Success
Did you know that your past, present, and future can affectdirectly or indirectly your outlook in life?
10 Compelling Reasons to Stop Singing the Blues
Success By Performing Without An Audience - Is Anyone Listening?
To achieve success it can be important to keep going even if no one seems to be appreciating or even noticing what you are doing. Some people are not appreciated until after they have passed on into the next life. Hopefully, it won't take that long for the rest of us.
The Ungiven Gift
He was pencil thin and walked with a limp. A thirteen year-old boy with huge yearning eyes who was always an unlucky patient on the children's floor of the hospital where my youngest daughter was all too often incarcerated.
How to Have an Amazingly Satisfying Year
I started taking stock of my year in 2002. I found it useful at the end of the year to list what I have accomplished, what I am thrilled about, what I wished had turned out differently, what I am proud of, what I learned, what were the pleasant surprises, and the not so pleasant ones, what I want to develop as a habit, and what I want to do differently in the future.
Lessons from My Garden
What does "Lessons from My Garden" have to do with "getting organized? One of the things I've learned after 20+ years as an organizing consultant is that organizing has something to do with everything!
15 Success Secrets Of The Strongest Men In The World
The 2004 final of the World's Strongest Man METRx Championship took place in Nassau in the Bahamas. Three of the six finalists impressed me especially as great role models.
True Success is Generous
"Write checks on a regular basis to those who you want to bless, not those who you owe. Be generous. If you are thinking of one amount, raise it a bit. They'll be glad now. You'll be glad now and later." Chris Widener in the ABC's of Success.
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