Just What Is A SWOT Analysis Anyway?
I realized recently that I have never written a post entirely devoted to what is a SWOT Analysis. What?! The weird thing is that I have referred to SWOT analyses in various posts like this one or this one. This tool can help you design your strategic plan, objectively see how you and your small business are performing and even provide a few other advantages.
You wouldn’t mind but I encourage people to do a SWOT analysis every time I present my webinar, Living Business Plan-The Best Kept Secret For Small Business Success. (Typically, I recommend to clients to make it a part of their quarterly review.)
It sounds so business-y and arcane but it’s really a straightforward tool. The four parts of the SWOT analysis are:
Strengths- This is an internal set of qualities that makes your small business unique, strong and shows your unique selling proposition (USP)
Weaknesses-Another internal set of qualities that contributes to lost sales, skill gaps and slows or stops growth
Opportunities-These are external factors that present ways to grow, new trends to capture or events. Include any pertinent information from your personal life that supports your business.
Threats-These are external factors such as obstacles in the marketplace, cash flow issues, new trends or competitors’ focus. For this section also include any pertinent information from your personal life that harms your business.
Suggested questions for each area
When you go through the analysis, try to be as specific and rigorous as possible. The more fine-tuned a nd accurate your data is, the more likely you can simply add the information to your living business plan and make any necessary modifications.
- What is working well?
- What is special about your business?
- What advantages does your business have?
- What are the perceived strengths of your business?
- What problems is your business facing?
- Where are you struggling most?
- What disadvantages does your business have?
- What are the perceived weaknesses of your business?
- What are your clients/customers saying about you?
- What are the current trends in your industry?
- How could you increase revenues?
- What changes in technology could be useful?
- What could help your business grow (political, economic, social, personal)?
- Who are your competitors and what are they doing?
- What are the current risks/obstacles your business is facing?
- What is changing in your market/industry?
- What changes in technology could present obstacles?
- What could hurt your business (political, economic, social, personal)?
If you are interested, you can get a PDF version of the template here (SWOT Analysis Template).
More than simply an evaluation of your small business
Yes, it does show what is happening currently in your business. It is a truth-teller. However, it is far easier to solve problems if you know which problem is facing you. Or… like I mentioned in my previous post, you can celebrate your successes. A SWOT analysis can be a tool for brainstorming. It gets those ideas you have been mulling around in your head and puts them on paper so you can make a plan and act. It can be a part of your accountability habit so you manage yourself emotionally and maintain a high level of performance. Take advantage of this analysis and get more than just an up-to-date assessment of your small business.
About the author: I’m Elli St.George Godfrey, a small business coach and trainer who guides established small business owners to be comfortable in their own skins, unlock the CEO within while leading and managing change in their organizations. Whether you are expanding locally or internationally, my 3 keys coaching process helps clients move from being excited about a new business opportunity to having the tools to make it actually happen. Curious? Schedule your complimentary coaching session here.