How to Conduct a SWOT Analysis for your Business

Business owners listen up! How long has it been since you conducted a SWOT analysis for your company?

This is an invaluable practice for both new and existing businesses as well as for individual team members or upcoming projects. You can use this analysis tool to plan, assess your competition, identify marketing opportunities and assist with research. It also makes a really useful icebreaker if you’re running a training session or as a team building exercise. It can also be a great tool when it comes to business meetings; maybe you want to use it to stimulate input from staff or as part of a brainstorming session.

What is SWOT?

SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. It can be used to identify and specify objectives, a technique first taught by Albert Humphrey at Stanford in the 60’s and 70’s.

Strengths

These are the elements of the project or business that offer advantages over competitors, or those factors that really make you stand out. Think about your USP’s, experience, knowledge, value, finances and your people.

Weaknesses

These would be the elements of the project, company or person that place the company at a disadvantage in comparison to others. Consider gaps in skill sets, systems, finances, vulnerabilities, disadvantages and your client base.

Opportunities

This should really be a focus on any external factors that could help exploit and improve what you are trying to do. Can you be tapping into a niche market? Perhaps you can take advantage of seasonal trends or the weather. What technological advancements do you have?

Threats

These are also external factors, items that could cause problems or trouble for the task, project or company in hand. Threats need to be thought about as they are not always obvious, consider politics, the environment, demand, financial stress and any obstacles you may face.

Taking the answers from the SWOT analysis, the manager or project leader first of all determines if the objective is obtainable. To ensure full and thorough information is extracted from the analysis, questions that provide meaningful answers need to be asked.

The main aim of any SWOT analysis is for those involved to be able to identify key factors, both internal and external that are required to achieve the objective. Most users of SWOT find that a grid or matrix format is a good way to clearly be able to see and identify the required information. There are a number of free templates available for download online.

Once completed, the ‘strengths’ and ‘weaknesses’ are graphed against ‘opportunities’ and ‘threats’ and you can draw your answers and identify any tasks required to complete the objective.

Always use your SWOT analysis as a guide, rather than a rigid form to follow, it is subjective and is really to help open your mind to ideas and possibilities, many of which you may not have considered without this planning tool.

It is a known fact that to make a business successful you need to build on your strengths, make changes to improve your weaknesses as well as protecting yourself against possible future threats. By completing a SWOT yourself you could, not only, be improving your business but future proofing it too.

 

Content provided by  Tony, a full time blogger writing on behalf of Brookson

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