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

Looking at the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats is often referred to as a SWOT analysis.

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 how hard they are to influence and thus their relative importance.

However, over and over again, we see land owners and designers try and start this process by thinking nearly exclusively about flora, fauna, and technology. This, once again, is the wrong order of operation.  

Start at Factor 1. Climate, and work your way through the eleven 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.

To make our process as easy as possible, we built a tool that embeds directly within Google Earth Pro and contains our workflow and process step-by-step. It’s brilliant and transposed overtop a property map provides queues and prompts to ensures that we (& our students) don’t miss anything.

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

Our unique Google Earth DIY Land Design tool is only available as part of our 12-week DIY Land Design Program.

Performing a SWOT Analysis

Strengths and Weaknesses represent internal risks and opportunities which we have agency over, while Opportunities and Threats represent external factors that we have little-to-no influence over.

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

Address our weakness such that the become a strength or they become irrelevant through good design.

Enhance our strengths such that they make us and our properties more resilient, profitable and enjoyable.

Acknowledge external threats so that we can either change the property if they are too extreme or plan contingencies to reduce or eliminate them.

Leverage bioregional opportunities to improve profitability, reduce labour, improve happiness and resilience.

Despite the relative simplicity, and obviousness of why this is so important to consider early on, the reality is that virtually no one does this.

This is why homes and roads are placed in the wrong place, disasters that can be prepared for are unexpected, farm businesses are operated unprofitably and land turns from an asset to a liability.

NARROWING DOWN THE POSSIBILITIES

Once this SWOT is complete your goal is to determine if there are any incongruencies between your values and vision (from Step 1) and the SWOT analysis of your property.

If there are incongruencies you may have the wrong property, or you may need to change your values and vision.

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.

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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