Using SWOT

Using the SWOT to Create your Business Plan

Article by: Sara Pantaleo

The SWOT analysis is a great way to get you thinking about your business in new ways. It doesn’t take much time, and doing it helps you think outside of the box regarding what you need to focus on and future success.

The importance of a SWOT analysis cannot be overstated. Developing your business strategy and considering all opportunities and threats from potential competitors or new market trends is essential. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats. This analysis leaves no stone unturned and brings self-awareness into your company’s goal-setting and future planning.

A company’s strengths and weaknesses are internal to the business. You can change them over time, but only with some work on your part!

Opportunities and threats are found in the external environment, a threat to your business and can’t be changed, but risks can be mitigated with the self-awareness a SWOT demands.

The truth of the matter, whether you like it or not- the competition in the market will always influence what happens within your company; good or bad!  We must stay prepared for anything that might come along; a SWOT helps us to be prepared.

The SWOT analysis is a great way to assess the changing environment and respond proactively. It can be used at any time; in fact, the more often, the better, but at minimum, once a year. 

You can either use one four-square SWOT analysis template or make lists for each category. Below, you’ll find examples of a traditional four-square SWOT analysis. However, lists for each square achieve the same outcomes.


Asking the right questions when doing your SWOT analysis

The right questions start with involving the right people. When conducting a SWOT analysis, having people with different perspectives and stakes in your company is essential. The more voices included, the better the chance for an objective result.

A group effort can help create data with greater accuracy because each member brings something unique yet valuable towards understanding how you’re doing and what needs improving or changing about operations. Questions should be focused around each square; Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats.

Ask the right question

Here are some questions you may ask for each; there are many more you can ask, but these are just some examples.

For strengths, you may ask:

  • What are we doing well?
  • Where have we exceeded KPIs?
  • What goals have we achieved to date?
  • What are the positive traits of our culture and our people?
  • What do customers love about our service?
  • What factors offer us a competitive advantage?

For weaknesses, you may ask:

  • What could we improve?
  • Are we lacking resources anywhere?
  • What are our competitors doing better?

For opportunities:

  • What opportunities exist in the market?
  • Are there any new market trends you can tap into?

For threats:

  • Are there any shifts in the market?
  • Any new competitors to be aware of?

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