Mel Larsen of Dream Project Coach, coaches freelancers, entrepreneurs and small business owners who want to make a positive difference to their lives and the world through growing their business.

Mel’s in-demand consulting, training and coaching work has taken her all around the globe including Russia, the Caribbean, Australia, New Zealand and Central Asia. She’s also former Director of the Streatham Business Awards and founded three community festivals in Streatham including The Streatham Festival (for which she received a Lambeth Civic Award).  Mel has a Level 5 Certificate in Coaching and Mentoring (degree level) with the ILM (Institute of Leadership & Management) and is a trained NLP Practitioner and especially loves working with women entrepreneurs.


“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”

Thinking of that famous opening to ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ today reminded me of an equally famous business tool. The SWOT Analysis was invented in the 1960’s by Albert Humphrey at the Stanford Research Institute. It’s a simple yet effective planning template that has stood the test of time and I find it really comes into its own at times like these.


As most people know, the acronym SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. As a consultant and business coach I use this tool a fair amount, but I find people often don’t use it to its full extent. That’s a shame as it’s relatively quick and easy to get deep insights from using it. Almost no-one uses the ‘next level’ approach to working with a SWOT analysis either: more about that later. So, to begin your SWOT, list factors that are internal to your business that you can categorise either as Strengths or as Weaknesses. Look for things about your business that are within your control. For example you may have a large mailing list, a great team or a strong online presence already. If you do have a team, ask them to add their thoughts and observations too.


Next you list all key external factors, categorising them this time as Opportunities or Threats. For example, a new and obvious opportunity right now is the greatly increased amount of people who are spending time at home and online. Sadly, the threats we face are also glaringly obvious right now. Once you’ve listed as many things as you can think of in all of those categories you can then start your analysis. Broadly speaking, you need to think about how you can take advantage of the positive factors and how you can address the negative factors.

Just by doing the above exercise with my clients, I find they typically have a ‘light-bulb moment’ and come up with several new inspiring ideas. As I said before, there’s another step to SWOT that helps you to discover new routes to success. Not many people in the small business world seem to know about it or use it.


I’ll be sharing that helpful next step plus other tips in my online workshop, ‘Find a Way for your Small Business’ on Weds 8th April. All proceeds go to The Trussel Trust who organize food banks across the UK, a resource that is even more essential during this challenging time.

The link below provides more information. If you happen to miss the workshop, you can still sign up to my mailing list via my site to receive a PDF version of the workshop: