The SWOT Guide
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To conduct a Strengths/Weaknesses/Opportunities/Threats analysis, answer the following questions as thoroughly as you can. Be brutally honest—the only person using this tool is you and any self-deception that you allow will hurt you and you alone.
The SWOT Factors:
What resources/capabilities can you use to develop competitive advantage?
Think about things like: What do you do better than anyone else? What are your unique selling points? What unique or low-cost resources do you have access to? What personality or character traits give you an advantage? What experience, knowledge or expertise do you have that others don’t? What activities do you excel at? What do people you know see as your strengths?
What stands in the way of achieving your goals?
Think about things like: What strengths are you missing? What could you improve? What gaps are there in your capabilities, experience, expertise, etc.? What do your competitors do better than you do? What kinds of activities should you avoid or find someone else to do for you? What are people in your market most likely to see as weaknesses?
Where do you see opportunities - internal or external - for profit and growth?
Think about things like: What interesting trends are you aware of? Where do your competitors’ vulnerabilities lie? How can industry or lifestyle trends turn into opportunities? What new markets may be opening up for your skills? Who could you partner with to create new opportunities? What would those opportunities look like? What unmet needs or pain points do you see potential clients having that you could solve?
What internal or external changes could threaten your ability to succeed?
Think about things like: What obstacles do you face? How is your market changing? How are client expectations or requirements for your job changing? How is changing technology impacting your ability to succeed? Are there debt or cash-flow issues that stand in your way? Could any of your weaknesses seriously threaten your business?
Be realistic about the strengths and weakness of your business—this is a highly subjective analysis so you need to try to be as objective as possible.
SWOT analyses should distinguish between where your company is today and where you want it to be in the future.
SWOT answers need to be specific—avoid grey areas.
Always apply SWOT in relation to your competition – how does your SWOT compare to theirs? Don’t just look at your current competitors, look at those you aspire to compete against.
As our world continues to move through a cycle of disruptive change, you may want to perform a SWOT analysis for your industry at large.
Perform a SWOT for any new business sectors, technologies or services that you’re thinking about diversifying into.
It may be helpful to format your SWOT analysis in a grid as follows:
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