A SWOT analysis is something you may or may not have heard of in the business world, but it’s become quite popular over the years for analyzing a business’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (hence the acronym). Whether you’re planning to move into new territory or simply want to take a closer look at what makes your business tick, a SWOT analysis can offer some valuable insight and give you a greater sense of clarity about your company moving forward.
It’s important to involve your team in this process, and their perspectives can shed new light on things you may never have even noticed. Here, you’ll learn about a SWOT analysis, and where to go once you’ve gathered your information.
The best way to do a SWOT analysis is with your entire team, or at least with representatives from every department in your business if you’re a larger company. Getting everyone’s ideas is crucial to understanding every aspect of your business’s day to day operations, and as the owner, sometimes you just don’t know what goes on in certain parts of the business all the time.
Think of your SWOT analysis as a sort of brainstorming session for you and your team. You’ll gather together and list your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. You can use a whiteboard, PowerPoint, or just plain old pen and paper for this exercise. What matters is that everyone participates.
You’ll start with your strengths, which are the things your company is known for or does well. Maybe your customer service team is the best in the industry, or your products can’t be matched by the competition. Knowing your strengths will help lend some extra confidence to the team and the exercise, and better prepare you to study your weaknesses.
Weaknesses are everyone’s favorite subject, right? Of course not. No one likes to look at where they fall short, but for personal or business growth, it’s crucial to identify where our shortcomings are. Your business’s weaknesses will become important focal points for change, so it’s important to be as honest as possible in this part of the analysis. If your customer service is awful, denying it won’t get you anywhere. Accept it and start forming a plan to fix it!
Your business could have many opportunities before it, but if you don’t analyze them, you’ll never understand their potential. Opportunities in business come and go, so during your SWOT analysis, be sure to take a closer look at any that are standing at your doorstep. They may or may not be good opportunities, but that’s the whole point of this part fo the analysis; to figure out which ones are worth pursuing and which aren’t.
Just like weaknesses, knowing the threats to your business is crucial to a more secure future. Threats come in all shapes and sizes; everything from the most minor competitive threats to more impactful things like the security of your network or imminent legal action. Identify any threats your business faces so you can start working on a plan to face them.
The Analysis is Complete…Now What?
You’ve sat down with your team and come up with a thorough SWOT analysis. You’ve identified numerous strengths and weaknesses that your company possesses. You know all of the opportunities that stand before you, as well as all of the threats standing in your way. Now what?
Your post-analysis planning comes next. This is the stage where you’ll formulate a plan for the future based on what you’ve come up with. Take a look at your weaknesses first. What can you improve immediately? What’s going to take more time to work on? Set realistic goals for these problems and start working on them right away. Don’t forget to include everyone in your planning, as only the team as a whole can enact real change!
Goals should be realistic as well.
It’s easy to get carried away with goals and end up putting more stress on everyone involved. If your customer service reputation is trashed from previous practices, it will take some time to rebuild it. Be patient with yourself and your team; you’ll get where you’re going with a little patience and determination, and a detailed SWOT analysis to guide the way.
A SWOT analysis is something that businesses of all sizes can benefit from; not just the big boys in the business world. In fact, a small business that conducts regular SWOT analyses will likely experience a more goal-oriented team and greater self-awareness. Self-awareness is key to improving and reaching goals, so don’t be afraid to host a few SWOT sessions per year! You can only get better the more you analyze your company.