A SWOT analysis is a quick and easy way to understanding the big picture and is the starting point of strategic planning for your new business. The four areas of your business this identifies are:
The first two look at your internal influences and the areas of planning that you are largely in control of, such as your USP, resources and any skills gaps.
The Opportunities and Threats are the external influences affecting your business, such as emerging technologies, competition and market demand.
As we wrote in “New Business, Next Steps”, the four quadrants of the SWOT grid can also be used together. For example, look at the Opportunities you’ve identified and how, if you can overcome your weakness and improve your Strengths, you could take advantage of them.
To complete a SWOT analysis, create a 4 box grid with the top two boxes marked Strengths and then Weaknesses, and the bottom two marked Opportunities and Threats. Or, much more simply, you can DOWNLOAD ONE HERE.
Then answer the questions needed to fill your SWOT analysis. The questions below are guidelines and a starting point if you’re stuck…
- What am I really good at?
- What are my unique skills?
- Where can I outperform my competitors?
- What can I do better than anyone else?
- What resources do I have?
- What is my USP?
What are my weaknesses?
- What am I really poor at?
- What resources am I short of?
- Where am I at a competitive disadvantage?
- What should I avoid?
- Where do I lack skills?
- What might hinder my success?
What are my opportunities?
- Does my idea tap into any trends?
- Are there any emerging technologies that could help my idea?
- Has there been anything in the news related to my idea?
What are my threats?
- What are our competitors doing?
- Who is my competition?
- Where am I vulnerable?
- How much do third parties affect critical parts of my business?
- Does changing technology affect my idea?
Don’t think of weighing up threats against opportunities as a reason to indulge in pessimism; rather, a question of how possible damage may be overcome bypassed or restricted.
Once you understand how to complete and analyse your SWOT data, and find ways to use it strategically, the SWOT analysis itself becomes a tool that you can use over and over, allowing you to explore new opportunities and improve your overall decision-making process.
If you have any questions or would like me to take a look over your SWOT analysis, then get in touch here.