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What the heck is a SWOT Analysis?

Being an entrepreneur is both exciting and challenging at the same time. There are a ton of things to get done and decisions to make.

One of the most important things that you can do to ensure the success of your business is to conduct a SWOT analysis. Today, we will discuss what a SWOT analysis is, why it is important, and how to conduct one for your small business.

Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, & Threats

A SWOT analysis is a strategic marketing analysis tool that stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. It is used to identify internal and external factors that can impact your business.

By conducting a SWOT analysis, you can gain a better understanding of your business, the market, and develop a strategy that will help you achieve your goals.

Strengths – What does your organization do well? What are your INTERNAL strengths? Where does your competitive advantage come from?
Weaknesses – What areas could you improve in? Are you weak in a certain process? Do you struggle with something in your business? Look for INTERNAL weaknesses.
Opportunities – What are the EXTERNAL opportunities in the market? Is there a new technology that you could take advantage of? Are customer trends changing?
Threats – What EXTERNAL factors threaten your business or industry? Are new regulations coming? Maybe there is a recession on the horizon?

How do I conduct a SWOT Analysis?

You can conduct a SWOT analysis for your small business as a whole, a unit within your small business, or even a product or service line.

The first step in conducting a SWOT analysis is to identify your strengths. What does your business do well? What sets you apart from your competitors? Once you have identified your strengths, you can use them to your advantage and build upon them to achieve success.
Next, you need to identify your weaknesses. What are some areas that need improvement? What challenges do you face in your industry? By identifying your weaknesses, you can develop a plan to address them and improve your business.
After identifying your strengths and weaknesses, it is time to look for opportunities. What are some trends in your industry that you can take advantage of? Are there any untapped markets that you can explore? By identifying opportunities, you can find new ways to grow your business.
Finally, you need to identify any threats that may impact your business. What are some external factors that can negatively impact your business? Are there any new regulations or laws that may affect your industry? By identifying threats, you can develop a plan to mitigate their impact on your business.

Whatever the subject of your analysis is, you should be able to put together your first SWOT in just a few minutes using one of these templates:

(These templates are not my creations. I found them listed as free resources on other sites and am redistributing them here for your use. All rights and credit belong to the original authors.)

Now what?

You’ve sat down and written out your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. What do you do with them?

Take a hard look at the opportunities and match them with your strengths so you can take advantage of those opportunities. As long as your strengths are unique to your organization, this is where you get a competitive advantage.

You can attack opportunities in different ways or better ways than your competition.

Don’t forget to look at the weaknesses and threats too. If a weakness that you identified is common to your industry, this could be an opportunity for you to get good at it and make that your competitive advantage.

Your weakness list could also reveal some things that you may want to work on improving.

Finally, guard against the threats. Use this part of your analysis to identify threats that need your action. Stay creative. Maybe seeing a threat early could be an opportunity to shift your operations or products before your competitors get there.

Or you may be able to solve for a threat in an unconventional way. That’s one of my favorite types of innovation.

Take a hard look at the opportunities and match them with your strengths so you can take advantage of those opportunities.

Conducting a SWOT analysis is an important step in developing and continuing to refine a successful business strategy. By identifying your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, you can develop a plan that will help you achieve your goals and overcome any challenges that may arise.

Remember, a SWOT analysis is not a one-time event. It should be conducted regularly to ensure that your business stays on track and continues to grow. With this tool in your toolbox, you will be better equipped to analyze your business to help you make the best decisions to move forward.

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