Ever done a SWOT analysis? It’s a really simple but powerful tool for helping you develop your business strategy. With a SWOT analysis, you can assess your current situation and determine a strategy for moving forwards.
SWOT stands for strengths (S), weaknesses (W), opportunities (O) and threats (T).
“Strengths” refers to what you are currently doing well.
Think about the factors that are going in your favour as well as the things you offer that your competitors just can’t beat.
If you’re looking at a new social media program, for example, you might want to review how your brand is perceived by the public and the effectiveness of your processes. Is the communication between your marketing and sales good enough to ensure they both use similar vocabulary when discussing your product?
Find your strengths by evaluating your social media message, and in particular, how it differs from the rest of your industry.
“Weaknesses” are the roadblocks stopping you from reaching your goals.
What do your competitors offer that you don’t? This section isn’t about being overcritical. Rather, it will help to foresee any potential obstacles that could hinder your success.
When identifying weaknesses, consider what areas of your business are the least profitable, where you lack certain resources, or what costs you the most time and money. Take input from team members in different departments, as they will likely see weaknesses you hadn’t considered.
Start by asking yourself these questions:
- If I were a consumer, what would prevent me from buying this product, or engaging with this business? What would make me look elsewhere?
- What are the biggest hindrances to employee’s productivity, or their ability to get the job done efficiently?
“Opportunities” give you the chance to dream big.
What are some opportunities you hope to reach?
Whatever the case, it’s important to include potential opportunities in your SWOT analysis. Ask yourself these questions: What new target audience do I want to reach? How can the business stand out more in the current industry?
The opportunities category goes hand-in-hand with the weaknesses category. Once you’ve made a list of weaknesses, it should be easy to create a list of potential opportunities that could arise if you eliminate your weaknesses.
“Threats” are the obstacles that might prevent us from reaching our goals.
What’s going on in the industry, or with competitors, that might mitigate success?
Writing down your threats helps you evaluate them objectively. For instance, you can list your threats in terms of least and most likely to occur, and divide and conquer each.
In short, strengths are the qualities that enable your business to accomplish its goals, and weaknesses are the qualities that prevent it from doing so. Opportunities are ways you can take advantage of the market environment and get ahead of the competition, and threats are aspects of the market environment that jeopardise your business’s profitability.
Strengths and weaknesses are internal factors you have full control over while opportunities and threats are external factors.
The framework seems simple enough that you’d be tempted to forgo using it at all, relying instead on your intuition to take these things into account.
But you shouldn’t.
Doing a SWOT analysis is important because adding the SWOT analysis to your growth plan is an important step in your strategic process. You give yourself the space to dream, evaluate, and worry before taking action. Your insights can then be turned into assets as you create the roadmap for your growth.
Things are changing constantly so you’ll want to reassess your strategy regularly. We recommend doing a SWOT analysis every 12 months so that you can respond to and proactively prepare for changes and new industry trends.
As your company grows and changes, you’ll be able to strike things off your old SWOTs and add new things as the industry changes. It can be illuminating to look back to where you started as you look ahead at what’s to come.
So now you know how easy a SWOT analysis really is to do – why not give it a try?
Want to share your findings with us? Get in touch! We’d be more than happy to help focus the results of your SWOT analysis into a Marketing Plan.
With passion and professionalism in abundance, Vida Barr-Jones has an impressive track record of establishing and meeting business goals. Vida brings 34 years of commercial experience, having spent eleven years as a Board Director at Europe’s largest FTSE-listed office products wholesaler. Vida is an inspirational leader known for excellent communication and engagement across all levels.