Develop a plan to be successful


September 3, 2018


Examining your business plan through the SWOT prism can be eye-opening. IMAGE:

What is success? Is it having a healthy family? A big bank account? Batting .350 for the Cubbies? Being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame? Dating Jennifer Aniston? What does is it mean to be successful? Recently, I gave a presentation in Arizona on success — and I posed this question to a large group of pest pros.

Being a relatively young company, I still haven’t reached my peak yet. But I know what success means to me: Having funds to do what I want, whenever I want, without worrying about how I’m going to pay for it. If I want to donate $25,000 to my church’s roof project, or if I want to buy a pair of jet skis on a whim, or if I can write a check for my kid’s college education without the check bouncing, that’s success.

There are other forms of success that don’t involve excess cash. For example, I’ve been married to the same great woman for nearly 30 years. That’s success! My son Trey has broken three D-III college swim records while swimming at Wooster College. That’s success! One of my employees got his Wisconsin and Illinois licenses in the same year. That’s success!

Once we determine what success means to us as individuals or as a company, we then have to develop a game plan for achieving it. To come up with this game plan, I recommend a Strength, Weakness, Opportunity and Threats (SWOT) analysis. Newer SWOT models actually have a fifth letter at the end for “Trends,” making it SWOTT, but I believe in keeping it simple, stupid (KISS), so I’m staying with the four-letter version.

Please note: SWOT shouldn’t be confused with SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics), SWET (Solar Wind Energy Tower), or SWIT (as in the Emmy award-winning actress Loretta).

A SWOT analysis helps you visualize what the strengths and weaknesses are in your company. Basically, you have a spreadsheet with Strength, Weakness, Opportunity and Threat written across the top. Going down the left-hand side, you can have a host of categories, such as: Services, Marketing, Staff, Finance, Management, etc. You create boxes going down and across like a crossword puzzle.

Inside each box, you will put your answers to each topic. For example, a company’s strength in the finance category might be that the line of credit is paid off or that there is cash in reserves. A weakness in staffing might be the receptionist’s surly attitude. A threat may be that the owner isn’t around enough and underqualified people are running the business.

After several answers are put into the boxes, one or two key issues or ideas are pulled out of the boxes for discussion or analysis. A very good friend of mine, Joe Chatman, works for Nestlé Purina and they, like many major companies, use SWOT analysis. He helped me a lot in developing my own SWOT Box.

What turned out to be fascinating for my own analysis is that the biggest weakness in my company is the same as my biggest strength: me.

Joe told me this is common. In many instances, a strength can turn into a weakness or a threat can become an opportunity.

For Schopen Pest Solutions, I feel that my micromanaging might be holding my company back. After doing my SWOT analysis, I came to realize that my company is running me, instead of the other way around. A good manager will help me pull back and work on the business side of my company. Therefore, if I can find a quality manager or supervisor to take some of my tasks away from me, I can focus on the company vs. the day-to-day grind.

At first, the thought of doing a SWOT analysis bored me to tears. But once I sat down and actually started filling in my boxes, I couldn’t believe how much it opened my eyes.

I’m actually taking the SWOT a step further: I’ve handed out SWOT boxes to all my employees. By the end of July, I should have unfiltered feedback from all of my workers. I’m hoping this company-wide analysis will help Schopen Pest Solutions remain cutting-edge and profitable.

It’s time to join the SWOT team.

Schopen is owner and founder of Schopen Pest Solutions, McHenry, Ill. You can email him at or reach him via Twitter: @schopenpest; Instagram: @peteschopen; or Facebook: Schopen Pest Solutions, Inc.


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