“What is a SWOT?” – Part 1

“No one knows what tomorrow will bring” and this cannot be truer in business today.  Whilst you can’t see around corners or predict the future a popular business tool known as a SWOT analysis can help you better navigate the unknown.
A SWOT Analysis is a business tool for analysing an organisation’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.  These headings are normally presented as a grid and provide a framework for reviewing strategy, position and direction of an organisation moving forward.

The purpose is to navigate the future to:

  • Build on your strengths
  • Eliminate your weaknesses
  • Exploit your opportunities
  • And mitigate your threats

The SWOT Analysis can be used for almost any decision making against organisational goals and the simple quadrant encourages proactive thinking and objectivity rather than relying on habitual or instinctive reactions.

In one of our recent social media polls we found a staggering 89% of organisations conducted Swot Analyses when engaging in strategy based decisions, highlighting the broad use and acceptance of this popular model.

We would like to help you delve further into the world of SWOT’s with a more detailed look at each of the elements that make up the SWOT in our TOP 5 “What is a SWOT?”  This is a two part series and next week we give you our Top 5 on SWOT Success, a look at the key factors of how you can apply the SWOT framework effectively to your business.

1. Strengths
These are defined as positive tangible and intangible attributes, internal to your business that is within your control.

Some questions to ask when examining your businesses strengths are:
– How is your business different from others?
– What are the tangible and intangible attributes that make your business steadfast?
– What are some key achievements/ capabilities your business has had in recent times?
– How is your business perceived in its industry / market?
– What resources do you have available?

2. Weaknesses
Weaknesses are factors within your control that detract from your ability to attain your goals and need to be improved to help your performance.  These can be difficult to face as they force you to face some aspects of your business you may have been avoiding.

Some questions to ask when examining your businesses weaknesses include:
– What are the things that hold your business back in achieving your goals?
– What are the challenges your business faces that it struggles to overcome?
– What is unhealthy about your business?

3. Opportunities
Can be defined as the reasons for your business existing and the reasons for its development.

Some questions to ask when examining your businesses opportunities:
– What are some of the emerging trends in your market?
– What relationships can you leverage?
– What investments can you leverage?

4. Threats
Threats come from outside factors to your business.  Identifying the threats for your business help you take steps to mitigate risk and remain watchful of their possible encroachment on your business.

Some questions to ask when examining your businesses threats include;
– What are the market trends and are they moving with or away from your business?
– Are their economic factors that affect supply of your product or service?
– What are your competitors doing
– Is your reputation under threat in any way?

5. Summary
The SWOT is a very powerful tool in identifying the internal and external factors that affect your business.  The final element of the SWOT is putting a strategy in place which is helpful in determining short and long term goals for your business. This will be discussed in more detail next week in part 2 of our series on SWOT Analyses.

Now it’s your turn!! What are some of the threats your business is currently facing?

Almost 90% of survey respondents use SWOT’s to navigate the unknown.  Don’t be left in the dark! Happening People have helped many organisations discover their strategic planning prowess!  Call Happening People on 1800 68 67 69 or go to www.happeningpeople.com


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