SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) is a method of assessing a business, its resources, and its environment. Doing an analysis of this type is a good way to better understand a business and its markets, and can also show potential investors that all options open to, or affecting a business at a given time have been thought about thoroughly. The essence of the SWOT analysis is to discover what you do well; how you could improve; whether you are making the most of the opportunities around you; and whether there are any changes in your market—such as technological developments, mergers of businesses, or unreliability of suppliers—that may require corresponding changes in your business. This actionlist will introduce you to the ideas behind the SWOT analysis, and give suggestions as to how you might carry out one of your own.
What is the SWOT process? The SWOT process focuses on the internal strengths and weaknesses of you, your staff, your products, and your business. At the same time, it looks at the external opportunities and threats that may have an impact on your business, such as market and consumer trends, changes in technology, legislation, and financial issues. What is the best way to complete the analysis? The traditional approach to completing SWOT is to produce a blank grid of four columns— one each for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and weaknesses—and then list relevant factors beneath the appropriate heading. Don’t worry if some factors appear in more than one box and remember that a factor that appears to be a threat could also represent a potential opportunity. A rush of competitors into your area could easily represent a major threat to your business. However, competitors could boost customer numbers in your area, some of whom may well visit your business. What is the point of completing a SWOT analysis? Completing a SWOT analysis will enable you to pinpoint your core activities and identify what you do well, and why. It will also point you towards where your greatest opportunities lie, and highlight areas where changes need to be made to make the most of your business.
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MAKING IT HAPPEN
Know Your Strengths Take some time to consider what you believe are the strengths of your business. These could be seen in terms of your staff, products, customer loyalty, processes, or location. Evaluate what your business does well; it could be your marketing expertise, your environmentally-friendly packaging, or your excellent customer service. It’s important to try to evaluate your strengths in terms of how they compare to those of your competitors. For example, if you and your competitors provide the same prompt delivery time, then this cannot be listed as a strength. However, if your delivery staff is extremely polite and helpful, and your competitor’s staff has very few customer-friendly attributes, then you should consider listing your delivery staff’s attitude as a strength. It is very important to be totally honest and realistic. Try to include some personal strengths and characteristics of your staff as individuals, and the management team as individuals. Whatever you do, you must be totally honest and realistic: there’s no point creating a useless work of fiction! Recognize Your Weaknesses Try to take an objective look at every aspect of your business. Ask yourself whether your products and services could be improved. Think about how reliable your customer service is, or whether your supplier always delivers exactly what you want, when you want it. Try to identify any area of expertise that is lacking in the business. as you can then take steps to improve that aspect. For example, you might realize that you need some more sales staff, or financial help and guidance. Don’t forget to think about your business’s location and whether it really...