STEP 2. DIAGNOSE THE STRENGTH, WEAKNESSES, OPPORTUNITIES AND THREATS

When you have identified your vision, values, resources, the next step is to identify all the factors that may enhance or obstruct your long-term goals. These are called Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (or SWOT for short).  

To help with the speed and accuracy of completing a SWOT analysis for something as complex as an acreage or farm, we have identified 11 property factors that are sure to uncover any problems or advantages that might be right beneath your nose:

The 11 factors that we analyze are:

1. CLIMATE

Energy Cycle, brittleness, analogues, weather patterns.

2. GEOGRAPHY

Successional Cycle, geomorphology, economy, land-use by-law.

3. WATER

Water Cycle, supply, demand, storages, wastewater.

4. ACCESS

High grade, farm tracks, footpaths.

5. STRUCTURES

Homes, barns, outbuildings, energy systems, utilities.

6. FLORA

Wild, domesticated, perennial, biennial, annual.

7. FENCES

Subdivisions, perimeter, alleyways, flexible, corrals.

8. FAUNA

Wild, domesticated, aquatic, terrestrial.

9. BUSINESS

Resource conversion, product conversion, marketing.

10. Technology

Tractors, vehicles, implements, physical tools, energy systems.

11. SOIL

Nutrient Cycle, biological, physical, mineral.

These factors are listed in order of relative importance – i.e., how much they can impact your use of the land, and how hard they are to change or influence.

Warning:   Over and over again, we see land owners and designers try to skip most of these factors and focusing on a few in the wrong order of operation. It’s an omission that could potentially lead to disaster! 

So…start at Factor 1. Climate, and work your way through the 11 factors in the order we’ve presented.

Google Earth Pro DIY Land Design Tool

The DIY Land Design tool shown as an overlay on the Coen Family Farm.

This can be a challenging if you’re working from unknown or guesstimated data. To make the process as easy and exact as possible, we built a tool that embeds directly within Google Earth Pro and contains your workflow and process step-by-step. Transposed overtop a property map, it provides queues and prompts to ensure that you don’t miss anything.

The best part of this tool is that if you follow it exactly, your land will practically design itself.

Our unique Google Earth DIY Land Design tool is only available as part of our 10-week DIY Land Design Program.

Performing a SWOT Analysis

Strengths and Weaknesses represent internal risks and opportunities you can control, while Opportunities and Threats represent external factors that you cannot significantly influence.

The goal with performing a SWOT analysis is  four-fold:

Enhance your strengths to increase resilience, profit, and enjoyment

Transform your weaknesses into strengths or make them irrelevant through good design.

Take advantage of bioregional opportunities to improve profitability, reduce labour, improve happiness and resilience.

Acknowledge external threats so you can plan contingencies to reduce or eliminate them, or else change the property if they are too extreme.

These sound like simple and obvious first steps, right? Surprisingly, the reality is that virtually no one does this.

This is why homes and roads are built in the wrong places, preventable disasters blindside unsuspecting landowners, farm businesses are operated unprofitably and land turns from an asset to a liability.

NARROWING DOWN THE POSSIBILITIES

Once you complete your SWOT, your goal is to identify any incongruencies between your values and vision (from Step 1) and the SWOT analysis of your property.

If there are incongruencies, you have two options: to change your values and vision, or else to change the property.

Ignoring this will lead to misery!

TAKE ACTION

  1. Download the SWOT Analysis worksheet here and complete a SWOT analysis for each of the eleven factors for your property.
  2. Review your values and vision statements from Step 1 to see if they align. If they do, move on to Step 3, Design. If they do not, either revise your values and vision or sell your property (sound harsh? Believe us, the pain of doing this is far less than the pain of forcing the land to do what is not naturally capable of doing, for years upon years!)

Stay tuned! Next we’ll be sharing our top three design tools that we use in the design of resilient homes, acreage and farms.

Cheers,

 

Rob & Takota

p.s. If you missed our first email, about the importance of having a process, you can get caught up here. Our second lesson, about clarifying your vision, values and resources can be found here.

p.p.s. We love guiding people through process on a one on one basis as well as in a group scenario. If you are looking to fast track your property design check out our DIY land design program and get started today.

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