by Sue Corrigan

22nd March 2017

Do you SWOT?

I’m always surprised at how many people don’t SWOT. Ever. In fact, many don’t know what SWOT is or how it can help them. So I thought it would be worth taking a closer look at this handy little tool and how it can help you make better business decisions.

So what is a SWOT analysis?

A SWOT analysis is a simple, yet effective way to assess the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats of a situation. By focusing on the positive and negative impacts of internal and external environments, you can identify where you can add value, avoid potential pitfalls and remedy weaknesses.

A SWOT can be applied to a number of scenarios including business growth, products, places and even people. It really is a versatile little tool and it will help you make more informed decisions.

The Rules

There are a few rules to follow when you undertake a SWOT analysis which are:

Keep it simple;

Keep it specific;

Be honest; and

Use the result as a guide, not a law.

Using a SWOT Analysis

The Strengths and Weaknesses elements of the analysis focus on the internal factors that will impact your decision making.

Your Strengths will be what you do well, the resources you have and the added value you bring to your product/service. These will really help you promote your product/service when it comes to preparing your marketing campaign.

Your Weaknesses could be a lack of expertise, a lack of resources or even a need to change some existing business practices before embarking on something new. By identifying the issues at the outset, you allow yourself time to overcome them before undertaking a campaign that could fail because of them.

The Opportunities and Threats elements focus on external factors that may impact on your decision making. These elements will be things you will have little, or no control over but by identifying them you will be able to either use them to your advantage or work around them.

The opportunities could be new markets coming forward, new legislation or even a new trend. You should be able to forecast many opportunities but some will happen quickly, so be ready to jump on them!

Threats can range from a lack of awareness of your competitors, unreliable suppliers or a drop in demand for your product or service. There are additional tools that will help you overcome these potential threats, such as a competitor analysis and supplier review, and by dealing with them as best you can at the outset, you may even turn some threats into opportunities.

Completing a SWOT analysis is easy and even more successful when done by a small group to allow for different points of view.

To make things even easier, I’ve prepared a SWOT Template for you to download.