Imagine you’re the owner of a small business. You’ve been operating for a few years, and things have been going well. Then, you hit a snag: your sales have plateaued, and you can’t figure out how to get past this slump.
You could keep doing what you’re doing and hope things turn around, but you know it takes a more proactive approach to grow your business. Our suggestion: use a SOAR analysis to generate new ideas and revitalize business.
When used correctly, a SOAR analysis is an invaluable tool for business owners and marketers looking to take things to the next level. So, without further ado, let’s take a closer look at what it is and how you can use it to dial up your business success.
What is SOAR analysis?
SOAR analysis is a way to evaluate your business and where it stands in relation to your competitors. Let’s break it down.
SOAR stands for Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations, and Results. Here’s a closer look at each element:
Strengths: these traits make your business unique and give you an advantage over competitors. When identifying your strengths, it’s important to think about what sets you apart from others in your industry.
Opportunities: these are the areas where your business has the most potential to grow. When identifying opportunities, think about trends happening in your industry and how you can take advantage of them.
Aspirations: these are your goals for the business, such as expanding into new markets, growing your audience, boosting brand visibility, or launching new products.
Results: these are tangible outcomes you want to achieve as a result of your SOAR analysis. When setting results, it’s important to be specific and realistic. SMART goals (goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) can help you stay on track.
What are the benefits of a SOAR analysis?
Is SOAR worth the effort and paperwork? Well…yes! Here are three reasons why a SOAR analysis is worth your time.
- Listing your business’s strengths and opportunities for growth helps you visualize what comes next.
- The simple yet structured format provides guidance on setting goals that will help you achieve your desired results.
- Evaluating your operations with a fixed set of criteria gives you a better understanding of the business’s current state and the direction in which it’s headed.
How to use SOAR analysis
Now that you know what a SOAR analysis is and the benefits of using it, let’s look at how to conduct one.
Before kicking things off, you need to gather the necessary information. This includes data on your business strategies (if you’ve run a SWOT analysis in the recent past, now is the time to dig it out), as well as competitor and customer data.
Here are some types of data you might want to consider:
- Market news from competitors and clients
- Positive and negative client feedback
- Employee feedback
- Case studies
In addition to preparing the data, you’ll need to think about how to run the meeting. Will this be an in-person event, or is your team remote? If the latter, which communication channels will you use?
2. Choose your team
The next step is to gather your team and explain the purpose of the exercise. Choose a diverse group of people from across the business to make sure various voices and expertise enter the mix.
3. Determine your objectives and goals
Your next step is to clearly articulate the objective of your analysis and set SMART goals that will help you achieve this objective. This can include anything from increasing sales or market share to launching new products or entering new markets.
Here are some questions to ask yourselves during the SOAR analysis meeting:
- What do customers say about us?
- Who are our competitors?
- What are our biggest weaknesses?
- How should we improve?
- What are the biggest complaints from our customers?
- What’s the state of our target market?
- How are our suppliers performing?
- What technology should we be using?
- Do we have any cash flow problems?
4. Map it out
Once you have enough relevant information, it’s time to start filling out each element of your SOAR analysis. You can do this via an infographic, diagramming tool, project management tool, spreadsheet, or any other resource you prefer.
The important thing is to make sure the information is easily accessible and easy to understand. Also, pick a tool that makes it hassle-free to both create and share content. For this reason, our top pick is a diagramming tool (just in case you were wondering).
Regardless of the format you choose, make sure to formally document your SOAR analysis so that you can refer back to it at any time. Having this information readily available makes it easier to quickly identify issues and opportunities for growth.
5. Make it actionable
The final step is to take all of the insights from your analysis and turn them into actionable items.
Action items can include anything from setting SMART goals to creating a marketing plan or diving into a product requirements document. Remember, the goal is to not only identify growth opportunities, but also put a plan in place to take advantage of them.
Limitations of the SOAR analysis approach
While SOAR analysis can be a powerful tool for businesses, it isn’t without limitations. Here are some of the key limitations to keep in mind:
- Quantifying your organization’s strengths, opportunities, and aspirations can be tricky. Data is your friend here: the more you can support with numbers, the better.
- Conducting a thorough SOAR analysis may take time and resources.
- Some factors, such as external market conditions or shifting consumer preferences, may be difficult to explore or account for in your analysis.
Despite these limitations, a SOAR analysis can be a great way for businesses to better understand their current state and identify areas of improvement. With ongoing monitoring and regular assessments, you should be able to give your business the lift-off it needs and achieve your goals.
SOAR analysis best practice
Now that you understand the basics of SOAR analysis, let’s take a look at some tips to make yours a success.
- Start by clearly defining your objectives and goals. Don’t skip this bit!
- Assemble a diverse team of people with different perspectives.
- Collect data from a variety of sources, including surveys, performance metrics, and competitor activity.
- Map out your findings in an accessible and easily understandable manner.
- Transform your insights into actionable items, such as setting SMART goals or launching new products and services.
- Use the right tools for the job. There are various tools available, including data visualization software, performance dashboards, and analytical platforms. Choose the right tools based on your needs and budget and the complexity of your organization and its objectives.
- Keep your SOAR document updated. It’s essential to regularly update your SOAR analysis to keep track of changes and reevaluate your strategy as needed. This may include revising timelines or adjusting goals, in addition to monitoring performance metrics and competitor activity.
Conducting a SOAR analysis can be a valuable exercise for any business, big or small. And by taking the time to think about each element of the analysis, you can set yourself up for success. While there may be limitations (what framework isn’t without downsides? Answer: none!) it’s well worth the effort.
When it comes to conducting a SOAR analysis, online diagramming software can be a huge help.
By visualizing your data in a clear and concise way, you can easily see patterns and relationships that might be hidden in text-based data. As a result, you’ll be better equipped to identify opportunities and weaknesses quickly. Diagrams also make information easier to share, which is an absolute must when you’re moving fast and need everyone to be on the same page.