At the last networking event I hosted for my Small Business Owners group I led a workshop on SWOT analysis for your business. A little intro for any of you new to SWOT – it’s a great tool used in business as part of an overall business plan to assess where you are now, where you want to get to and the internal and external factors that can affect this.
SWOT stands for STRENGTHS, WEAKNESSES, OPPORTUNITIES AND THREATS.
The strengths and weaknesses evaluate your business internally, things that can be affected or influenced by you or your team, your processes etc. Opportunities and threats are about looking at what externally can affect the future performance of your business, some of which are perhaps out of your control.
So, why is this valuable?
Well, a SWOT analysis can be used as a ‘kick off’ point for evaluating your business to then be able to go on and put a solid plan in to place for the coming months. It is essential to be aware of any potential risks that could threaten your business, so you can plan how to handle them rather than getting an unwelcome surprise further down the line. Knowing your weaknesses can help you to put a structure in to place to overcome or improve these and have a clearer understanding of changes that need to be made.
If you have a clear understanding of your strengths you can ensure your resources are being used efficiently and effectively, and you can possible leverage some of these strengths to create new opportunities. Discovering new opportunities is essential in business growth whether that be finding new potential customers, offering new products and services or broadening your market geographically.
You can also use this tool to assess where your competitors are, allowing you to better position yourself in the market.
How do we perform a SWOT analysis?
Firstly, you’ll need a piece of paper for making notes or you can use my template here. You’ll need to give yourself time to assess each area thoroughly. Here are a few questions to help you get started:
STRENGTHS – What do you do really well? Where are you different to others? What do you do better than anyone else? What are you proud of about your business? What do others see as strengths in your business? Can you use any of these strengths as opportunities?
WEAKNESSES – What isn’t so good in your business? What do you struggle with? What hinders you? What could you change for the better? What should you avoid? What factors loose you sales? What do outsiders see as your weaknesses?
OPPORTUNITIES – What trends could you take advantage of? Which strengths could you turn into opportunities? What is going on locally that you could take advantage of/ capitalize on? What opportunities could come from changes in technology, regulations, social patterns etc?
THREATS – What is your competition doing? What threats do your weaknesses expose you to? What obstacles do you or your organisation face?
When you are considering these factors, make sure you prioritise them, so the most important points are at the top.
A SWOT analysis is something I would recommend you do in your business at least once per year if not more to help you get a plan together to move things forward. It can be a real eye opener and not only highlights areas for improvement but areas where you’re doing really well too.
If you have any questions on SWOT analysis you can comment below or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org