Part of running a healthy, growing business is taking the time to regularly review the status quo. A SWOT analysis is a relatively quick and easy way to identify the main threats to your organisation, and the biggest opportunities for growth.
So what is it?
Simply put, conducting a SWOT analysis involves making lists. Get a group of people around the table (those you trust, who are likely to be honest and that have insight into your organisation) and start analysing your business according to the example below:
- Characteristics that give your business an advantage over others
- What is your value proposition, how does it differentiate over others?
- What do others perceive as your strengths?
- Characteristics that place the business at a disadvantage relative to others
- What do your competitors do better than you?
- What do others perceive as your weaknesses?
- What are the elements your business could exploit to its advantage?
- What trends, conditions that may positively impact your business?
- What are the elements in the environment that could cause trouble for your business?
- What trends or conditions may negatively impact you?
Once this is done, you should have a pretty good idea of what’s working and what’s not, and where to apply your energy going forward in order to see growth.
It’s important to know that a SWOT analysis is only as good as the data going in, so be sure to be brutally honest, and get a range of stakeholders around the table to ensure a good representation of views.
Building on Strengths
What lessons can you learn from parts of the organisation that work really well? Can this be applied elsewhere? Got a super-motivated sales team? Look at how they work together and ensure cross-fertilisation of ideas and management techniques. Be smart and don’t waste time re-inventing the wheel and it will lead to a successful and growing organisation.
Dealing with Weaknesses
Any strategy for growth needs to prioritise dealing with areas of the business that aren’t doing as well as they should. Identified that your branding isn’t as good as it could be? Implement an action plan to improve it. Customer service need improving? Put some training in place pronto and nip the problem in the bud.
Making the most of Opportunities
When opportunity knocks, successful businesses are ready and prepared to capitalise. Whether this is making sure you have the right marketing materials such as banner stands for the great trade show coming to town next year or ensuring you can meet increased demand from your growing internet sales presence, preparation is key to success.
What are the things that pose the most risk to your business? Perhaps a competitor is eating up market share, or commodity costs are due to rise. Being aware of the risks to your business is the first step in mitigating them, and ensuring that your organisation not only continues to survive, but thrives and grows.
And finally, when you’ve done all of that, don’t simply pat yourself on the back and file it away in a drawer somewhere. In order to turn a SWOT analysis into a plan for growth, you need to identify the most important points identified in your SWOT and use these to draw up a detailed action plan for growth.