How to Conduct a SWOT Analysis of Your Company

We live in a dynamic world. What worked yesterday might not work tomorrow.

Taking the time to reevaluate your company’s business strategy can mean the difference between success and failure. However, many companies are stuck in chronic routine; they conduct “business as usual” until the rest of the world has moved on. One way to reevaluate your strategy and keep your business fresh is by using a SWOT analysis.

A SWOT analysis identifies your company’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Strengths and Weaknesses focus on the internal dealings of your company, while Opportunities and Threats focus on the external.

By looking at your company through the SWOT framework, you will be able to craft a strategy that will help you align your Strengths with market Opportunities, improve your Weaknesses, and avoid outside Threats. Not only that, but this is a great way to distinguish yourself from your competitors.

Completing a SWOT works best in a brainstorming environment. Bring together some influential people in your company and try to stay as objective as possible. Create a grid with four sections, one for each component: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

Let’s begin. The questions below should help you get started.

Strengths. Start by listing things that are helpful to achieving your objective. What does your company do well? What advantages do you have over your competition? Where have you had the most success in the past? What do you provide that your competitors do not?

Weaknesses. Think about things that are harmful to achieving your objective. What are your areas of difficulty? What are things that you could do better? What are your needs? What do your customers complain about? What do your employees complain about?

Opportunities. This is where you list external factors that influence your company. What new technologies can you utilize? Are there local businesses or organizations that you could work with? Can you take advantage of new social patterns, lifestyle changes, or cultural trends? Do you have a list of local events?

Threats. What are some external obstacles that you face? What is your competition doing? Is new technology threatening your business plan? Are you in debt?

The SWOT analysis is a quick and easy way to understanding the big picture. It is the starting point of strategic planning. You will begin to notice that the four quadrants of the SWOT grid can be used together: how can you use your Strengths to take advantage of your Opportunities? What can you do to move your Weaknesses into the Strength box?

You can also use the SWOT method on your competitors. As you do this, your strategy will improve and you will see how and where you should be competing.

The final step is the most important of all: applying the results! Utilize your Strengths and minimize your Weaknesses. Take advantage of Opportunities and avoid those Threats.