Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats
When conducted thoroughly, a SWOT analysis can uncover a wealth of information, and can be useful in a number of situations.
This article will walk you through how to conduct a SWOT analysis and provide some tips that will help you use the tool effectively.
Using a SWOT Analysis MatrixA SWOT matrix is usually depicted as a square divided into four quadrants. Each quadrant represents one element of the SWOT analysis -- Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats.
Questions to Ask During the ProcessThe easiest way to start filling in each quadrant in the matrix above is by answering a series of questions. Use the list below to get started, focusing on the questions that are most relevant for your business and current situation.
Strengths: For this quadrant, think about the attributes of yourself and your business that will help you achieve your objective. Questions to consider:
- What do you do well?
- What are your unique skills?
- What expert or specialized knowledge do you have?
- What experience do you have?
- What do you do better than your competitors?
Where should you keep your money?
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- Where are you most profitable in your business?
- In what areas do you need to improve?
- What resources do you lack?
- What parts of your business are not very profitable?
- Where do you need further education and/or experience?
- What costs you time and/or money?
- What are the business goals you are currently working towards?
- How can you do more for your existing customers or clients?
- How can you use technology to enhance your business?
- Are there new target audiences you have the potential to reach?
- Are there related products and services that provide an opportunity for your business?
- What obstacles do you face?
- What are the strengths of your biggest competitors?
- What are your competitors doing that you're not?
- What's going on in the economy?
- What's going on in the industry?
Using Data Compiled in a SWOT AnalysisOne of the most important parts of your SWOT analysis is using the data you compiled to identify new strategies and goals for your business. For example, you can:
- Create a plan to build up your strengths even more
- List ways you can work on building up your weaknesses
- Set SMART goals for each of the opportunities you identified
- Devise a plan to use your strengths to decrease the threats you identified
- Explore how you can combine your strengths and opportunities to develop new strategies
- Try combining strengths and threats to identify threats you can eliminate
- Look at your weaknesses and opportunities to create a list of areas ready for improvement
- Make a list of areas to avoid that fall under weaknesses and threats