How to Use a SWOT Analysis on Your Business

If you’re serious about improving and growing your business, you need to periodically reflect on your strategy. This means being fiercely honest about what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong. One of the simplest and best ways to do this effectively is to perform a SWOT analysis. Let’s look at what that means, how to do it, and how it will help you.

SWOT Defined

SWOT is an acronym for “Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.” By taking an objective inventory of these four qualities, you will reveal an accurate picture of the state of your company.

Let’s look at some examples of each. If your company provides great customer service, that’s a strength. If you experience a longer time to fulfill orders than you’d like, that can be considered a weakness. If you have realized there is an untapped demographic that is unaware of your product, that’s an opportunity. If a new competitor has moved into town, that’s obviously a threat.

How to Conduct Your Analysis

To conduct a SWOT analysis, you should gather a cross-section of employees from different departments. You can have some managers and executives in the mix but be sure to include employees who are “in the trenches” and dealing directly with clients and processes. Give everyone five to ten minutes to write down as many SWOTs as they can think of. Designate someone to write them all down on a whiteboard or large legal pad.

Have them write every single one down. It’s important not to shoot anything down at this point. Make it clear that everyone has the green light and there will be time for discussion after each item is organized and on the board. Once that’s done, begin the discussion by asking people which the top-ranking item in each category should be. Facilitate the discussion from there. One more important note: with a SWOT analysis, there are two “positive” and two “negative” categories. Spin the exercise toward positivity by emphasizing that every weakness and threat is an opportunity.

Action Items to Put Your Plan into Place

After the analysis is done, it’s time to act. You want to generate a list of 3-5 simple, measurable tasks to achieve in the next 6 to 12 months. Your strengths are your blueprint. Craft your action items by looking at how your strengths can help you take advantage of your opportunities, and combat weaknesses and threats.

SWOTs are great universal metrics to help you evaluate your strategy. The process will also help your staff come together and focus on specific goals!

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