Resolution: Perform a SWOT analysis on my business

October 16, 2017By Behind the Shelf Blog, Industry Intuition, Resolutions

by Steve Choate, business development manager, for the Resolutions blog series

Do you remember how frustrating it is when you try to SWOT a fly and you miss? What do you do next? You assess where the fly went and rethink how to SWOT it.

Before you can achieve your company’s goals, you need to SWOT your business. SWOT stands for: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats. Performing a SWOT analysis on your business allows you to establish a baseline which will allow you to determine which direction to go next. It helps you find opportunities to move your business to the next level, as well as threats that may derail your plans. A well done SWOT analysis will reveal both the positives and negatives about your current business, as well as help you plan for your future.Conducting a SWOT analysis

A SWOT analysis focuses on both internal and external factors that influence or effect your company.  The Strengths and Weakness elements look at the internal workings of your business. These are the people, financial resources, products, and processes existing today in your company. These factors are under your control. Once you have identified them, you have the ability to react to improve them or mitigate them.

The Opportunities and Threats elements are external to your company such as your competitors, your customers, local and global economic situations, market dynamics, and governmental forces. These factors are beyond your direct control. You cannot change these factors. However, once you understand what they are, you have the knowledge and ability to use your strengths to capitalize on the opportunities while minimizing the threats. You may even be able to look at a threat and find a new way to neutralize it and turn it into an opportunity for your business.

To conduct a SWOT analysis, set up a grid listing your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats as depicted in the image to the right.

This grid organization helps you think of multiple possibilities. For every strength, try to come up with a weakness, and for every threat, an opportunity (or vice versa). The intent isn’t to come up with balanced lists on each side, but to help spur ideas to see and compare them side by side.

Make sure that you ask all functional areas of your business to independently (and anonymously) complete the analysis. This will give you input and insights into your business that you may have never even considered or recognized. You might also want to ask associates at different levels to complete the analysis. Every area and individual (even though you all work for the same company) sees things from their own points of view and from the lenses of their position, age, and tenure. You may learn things that you did not know that can help shape the future of your business.

Once your team has completed the SWOT analysis, you’ll need to get together to review the answers. In order to further your business, you will need to come up with prioritized strategies and tactics based on the results. These will build the structure and guidelines for the next 6, 12, 18, and 24 months. In order to keep your company on course, you should perform a SWOT analysis every 18-24 months.

The sooner you SWOT, the sooner you will be able to move your business forward!