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Understanding Yourself: a Simple Assessment Exercise

A creative person may be more suited to an independent business where there is more room to give you the opportunity to test and implement ideas. A systematic, scheduled person with a strong management background may thrive in the franchise environment, eventually operating multiple outlets with different managers handling the day-to-day operations.

Many businesses use a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) to understand their position in the market and develop a plan of action. If you are looking at buying a business, this is a useful tool that you can use on yourself.

Try this exercise, which will take about thirty minutes. First, sit down with a pen and four sheets of paper. Label the first sheet strengths, the second weaknesses, the third opportunities, and the fourth threats. Now, starting with the strengths page, brainstorm keywords that describe your best attributes. Once you have exhausted this list, move onto the next page, until you have created a comprehensive list for each category.

Example of a self-SWOT analysis: an artist looking to buy and turn around a failing coffee shop in a trendy downtown area.




Strong marketer




Well liked

Hard worker



Great network of friends


Unscheduled and I get bored quickly,

I procrastinate tasks I don't like, and am weak in some areas (accounting)

Not a lot of experience managing staff.


Very creative, can create unique design/atmosphere to attract customers, can have a unique menu, have local musicians on weekends.

I have Great connections with local art/music world and my friends are willing to entertain for very little to help me get started.

Can compete on price while maintaining quality, due to lower overhead / no royalties.


May have difficulty staying on task if I get bored, giving competitors the ability to win over the long run.

Will have to implement full vision/menu over time.

Some concern that many potential customers would rather just go with safe and fast brands rather than the experience.

Once you have done a SWOT analysis on yourself, you can use it as a tool to help you guide your purchase decision. Another useful self-assessment tool, which can be done online for free, is the Keirsey Character and Temperament Sorter. Very similar to the Meyers Briggs Temperament Tester, the Keirsey character sorter can help you to understand yourself and how others perceive you.

All of these tools will only be useful if you are brutally honest with yourself. Identifying your strengths and weaknesses will not only help you understand what type of business is best for you, but it will also help you build on your strengths and minimize your weaknesses after you have bought a business.

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