Starting a business is a popular ambition for many people across the globe. As the idea grows in popularity, so do the practices and processes surrounding it. SWOT, which was once a term unknown to anyone outside entrepreneurial and business circles, is now a term that almost everyone has heard, and for good reason.
A SWOT analysis is when you take an in-depth look at your business’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This can be done to a conceptual business, or an established one.
In this post, we are going to take a fictional service-based connection business, PupTrot, and put it through a SWOT analysis to see whether or not it has what it takes to make it to fruition.
Bert and Karl are the creators of PupTrot. Bert has a background in online marketing, and Karl is experienced in web and application development and design. Both Karl and Bert are lifelong dog owners.
PupTrot is a concept that would allow dog owners to connect with individuals who would like to spend time with dogs, but who cannot own them due to work, school, allergies, etc. This could mean walking, babysitting, taking to appointments, or even just spending time with dogs whose owners are busy or out of town.
Dog owners would pay a fee to the people who spend time with their dog, and PupTrot would create cashflow by taking a percentage of that fee.
The concept of PupTrot has a number of notable strengths that could help to give it a boost. These include:
Unique. PupTrot is designed to connect dog owners to dog lovers. The platform serves both users as it allows owners to have support during busy times or during vacations, and it allows dog lovers to spend some time with a pup without the full-time responsibility of having one of their own. And don’t forget the pooches—having someone to take them for a walk or to the park when their owner works late makes their life better too!
Trendy. Applications and services that connect users are all the rage. Think Tinder, Uber, and Airbnb. If implemented, this platform would be timely, lining up with current market demand and trends, and helping it to reach its target market more easily.
Experience. Bert and Karl bring a lot of experience to the table. Bert can cut costs by creating a comprehensive marketing rollout plan, while Karl can design and build both a website and mobile application. This gives PupTrot a significant head start.
Proven. The business type has proven to be successful based on other businesses with similar sales models. This gives Bert and Karl a clear indication of how to focus lead generation and market outreach.
Aside from its benefits, PupTrot also has some clearly defined weaknesses that could keep it from becoming the next big thing. Some of the downfalls are:
Finding customers. Although PupTrot will be based off of similar proven platforms, reaching and retaining initial customers will be difficult. “Dog owners with smartphones and a knowledge of applications” is quite a broad target, and it may be difficult to figure out where to start with targeted campaigns.
Legal. Bert and Karl are aware that there will be many legal issues to work through with PupTrot, including waivers for owners and pet-sitters and liability issues in the event of emergencies or accidents. Since Bert and Karl are not well-versed in law, they will need significant legal support in order to ensure that their PupTrot and its users will be protected.
Business model. Karl and Bert plan to take a portion of every transaction between users, but one issue with this is that perhaps not all users will want or need to pay for services. The business model, particularly with these users (dog owners and dog lovers), may not be stable enough for long-term success.
PupTrot has many different avenues of opportunity that it can explore. Because PupTrot is a “feel good” business, it can be used as an attractive partnership incentive for other businesses. Some prominent opportunities include:
Partnership. PupTrot could partner with humane societies, schools, therapy programs, and more in various ways. For example, if PupTrot were to work with a local adoption center or pet store, users who mention PupTrot as their referral could get a discount, and PupTrot could get a portion of the sale.
Matching. Eventually, PupTrot could provide matching functionality for users. This would mean that if Jane Doe is older and prefers smaller, well-behaved dogs to spend time with, she can be matched with dogs (and owners) who fit her needs. This would be an advanced version of the proposed user profiling.
Physical products. Having tracking abilities for dog owners, so that they can see where their dog is would provide peace of mind as well as an opportunity to sell collar attachments that connect to the app. This would mean the ability to create and sell physical products, increasing PupTrot’s cashflow.
Any business’s main threats are generally attributed to competition, whether current, future, or perceived, and PupTrot is no exception. The main threats to PupTrot include:
Bad press. In order to provide dogs to walkers and walkers to dogs, PupTrot will need to ensure that each party provides full disclosure to the other. That means that if a dog has aggressive tendencies, or if a walker has a history of animal abuse, both parties will need to be aware prior to an agreement. Without full disclosure from both parties, an incident that creates bad press could be devastating.
Competition. While the concept of PupTrot is unique, the actual service being provided is not. Traditional dog walkers, doggy daycares, kennels, and boarding facilities pose a threat in the sense that potential customers will need to adjust to a new method of meeting their needs.
Service providers. It would be in PupTrot’s best interest to have the dog walkers and sitters be classified as freelance contractors. To have them be classified as employees would cost PupTrot too much money, making the sales model virtually useless.
Now that we have a SWOT analysis in place, we can take a look at the opportunities and threats to see if we can develop any strategies that will help to minimize or overcome weaknesses and strengthen the business to bolster its success.
Through opportunities, Bert and Karl can start outreach and relationship building immediately. Discussing potential partnerships early on can help them to tailor their business to what will make them successful. It will also give their marketing, branding, and customer base a boost to be mentioned by or partnered with a larger business.
To avoid bad press, PupTrot would need to ensure that their business, and the relationships between users, are clear, legal, and easy to understand. PupTrot will need to promote and encourage transparency in their business from the very beginning. They will also need to start with a sound legal strategy from the get go.
Another strategy to reduce costs, surpass competition, and enhance user experience would be to create a basic application to start with, and scale it as necessary. That means that Karl could build a functional, but minimalistic app and PupTrot could add features, such as matching, over time.
What’s Next for PupTrot?
From looking at the SWOT analysis of PupTrot, you can see that while they have a fairly sound idea, Bert and Karl still need to hash out some details, and figure out what their next steps are. They will face some steep battles in terms of disclosure and legalities, but if they can overcome those, they might just have the next big thing on their hands.
Have you ever created a SWOT analysis? Did it help you to start (or not start) your business?
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