A SWOT analysis is a useful tool both when starting a business and periodically as your business is going through changes or you are in the process of making big decisions. The purpose of a SWOT analysis is to look at all the factors that are influencing your business – internal and external, positive and negative. You want to use this as an overview of exactly where your business is at.
Even if, like me, you are not one for big, long, traditional business plans, a SWOT analysis can be really helpful in drawing out critical information and creating a straightforward viewpoint of where you are. Once you have it all laid out in front of you it makes it a lot easier to see exactly where you stand and what factors should influence your decisions.
It’s easy to look at the sections and think ‘I know all this in my head, filling this out is a waste of time’ but I find completing a SWOT analysis really helps me to make sense of all the facts and make better, clearer decisions.
Print out the template below and fill in each box with your own Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Be as brief or as thorough as you want to be in your descriptions, as long as you know what you mean it doesn’t matter how elaborately it is explained.
When you download the SWOT analysis template you’ll see there are four boxes on the page with four headings: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Let’s go through each section in a little more detail:
The strengths section looks at internal factors that impact your business in a positive way. This means anything that is within your control that has a good effect. For example:
– Strong management team
– Great location with high footfall
– Well connected in the industry
The weaknesses section looks at the internal negative factors, so still the things within your business but that have a negative effect. This could be areas you or your company needs to improve on, skills gaps, financial issues etc Examples:
– Low advertising budget
– Lack of experience with technology
– No reputation built up yet
Opportunities look at the external factors that have a positive impact on your business. It could be something like potential clients, new revenue streams, advances in technology or anything that may be opening up new opportunities to you.
Here are some examples:
– large potential client in pipeline
– chance for a new location
– new market to explore
Threats are anything external that may negatively affect your business. This could often be related to laws and regulations, competition, demand etc.Examples include:
– low barrier to entry for competitors
– changes in regulation affecting operations
– increase in taxes
When you have an overview of all those things, it’s much easier to make decisions and see which path might be the best to take
Be brutally honest with yourself, don’t sugarcoat – nobody needs to see this but you.
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