A SWOT analysis is a simple strategic planning technique to help you understand potential strengths and weaknesses internally to your organization and opportunities and threats externally to your organization. A SWOT analysis can help you to determine what you are doing well and where you may need to focus efforts in order to get better. The SWOT analysis also helps you to keep up to date on what is happening in your industry, the competition and potential risks to be aware of.
It's important to not become overwhelmed with performing a SWOT analysis OR to ignore performing an annual SWOT. There are many resources out there which will walk you through your SWOT analysis, such as SCORE’s SWOT analysis checklist. SCORE offers a 48 question checklist which will help you define the short- and long-term goals for your business and establish the action steps necessary to reach those goals.
“A SWOT analysis can help you to determine what you are doing well and where you may need to focus efforts in order to get better.”
Look at External Factors
Looking at external factors such as political, economic, social, technological, environmental, and legal (also known as a PESTEL analysis) can help you to narrow in on your opportunities and threats.
While growth is always important, there are times when that should not be your specific focus. In order to scale as needed, it's important to consider all factors. Expanding your store or office or adding more products may not be the answer. Adding more technology or people may also not be the right answer. Adding more processes or procedures may have unintended consequences or be a stepping stone to the next level of success. The recipe for growth, depends on what current ingredients you have and which ingredients have led to your achievements so far. Focusing on SWOT areas will allow you to focus on your challenges and give your business the best opportunity for growth.
Remember, a SWOT analysis is a strategic tool and not a one-and-done tactic. Don’t think of your SWOT analysis like a marketing tactic for your business. Think of it as a self-reflection. Having emotional intelligence about your brand can help you to stay aware, focused and strategic in your decisions. Conduct a SWOT analysis once every six months, or annually at a minimum. Taking the time to perform a SWOT analysis will help you to continue to move forward with your current execution or make strategic corrections. Take time to let your insights settle. Making knee-jerk reactions may cause more harm that good. Just as important as your analysis is thinking through how to effectively and sustainably implement your findings. Just as the ingredients in your recipe are important, the time to implement and execute may vary from immediate, a few months or years.
If you are struggling to find the motivation to perform your SWOT, contact me to learn more about my SWOT accountability program.