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A "SWOT" Team for Your Business

One of the side effects of a successful business is feeling a bit overwhelmed. As your business grows, there are more moving parts than ever before, and you may start to feel like you’re missing important things that could impact the general health and future prosperity of the business. If you ask a business advisor how to get a better handle on things, they will often suggest a “S.W.O.T. Analysis.”

Strategic planning is the process of defining and creating strategies that will help your company develop a competitive advantage. Once a strategy is developed, a company’s resources are deployed to achieve the stated goal. It is important to emphasize the word process, because the process is more important than the product or service. Strategy and planning are a continuous process because the competitive and internal business environments are always evolving.

In the strategic planning process, one thing is certain: our plans will most likely be “wrong” or incomplete, and not be carried out exactly as we anticipated. Every plan will need continual course adjustments. One of the tools used in the strategic planning process is a SWOT Analysis.

SWOT is a business evaluation (strategic planning) tool that stands for: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. This simple, yet insightful self-assessment can help you and your key stakeholders gain a better understanding of the current state of affairs in your business and help you create a clearer path to achieving your goals. It considers both the internal factors (strengths and weaknesses) and external factors (opportunities and threats), which will greatly impact the success of a company.

This analysis provides a format from which to both perform a self-evaluation and compare the impact of competitors.

  • Strengths are defined as core attributes that distinguish a business; especially from the competition.
  • Weaknesses are defined as those areas that put the business at a competitive disadvantage or internal areas of inefficiency.
  • Opportunities are defined as those external factors on which the business can capitalize for growth or expansion.
  • Threats are defined as those external factors that can cause loss of business and revenue.

A SWOT Analysis is typically put in writing and into a graph that visually depicts areas that need immediate attention.

A simple SWOT Analysis can be a discussion with key stakeholders within the firm with a final consensus being written for planning purposes. A more comprehensive SWOT can include employee feedback. And, an objective SWOT can be conducted by an outside party (marketing firm) to include feedback from clients.

The goal of a SWOT Analysis is to:

  • Determine competitive advantages
  • Analyze the market to be served
  • Understand the problems facing the company
  • Allow for the development of targeted plans which leverage strengths and bolster weaknesses to take advantage of opportunities and minimize threats

The steps in the process are fairly straightforward, but implementation is more difficult. The process is often time-consuming and rigorous and may require significant resources to maximize results.

For a successful SWOT Analysis:

  • The participants must be truthful and realistic about the relative strengths and weaknesses of the company.
  • There must be a present and a future orientation to the process.
  • It must be specific.
  • It must consider the opportunities/threats both unique and available to your competitors.
  • It must identify strengths/weaknesses both that make your business sustainable and those that give rise to your Unique Value Proposition.

Every business needs to conduct a self-assessment, no matter how well a business is going. Being attuned to core strengths and changes within the business help the leaders capitalize on opportunities and address issues that need attention. Business is organic – changing constantly. A SWOT Analysis can keep the company focused on key issues and provide a methodology to quickly analyze progress, growth, and external forces.

A formal SWOT Analysis should be revisited annually with quarterly check-ins to measure progress and discuss actions to address key areas that need attention. The SWOT Analysis can make an important contribution to every business, strategic, and marketing plan.

Contact us to schedule a no-obligation business planning meeting.

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