What is a SWOT analysis?

swot-analysisThere has been much discussion recently over what is a SWOT analysis and if there really is a need for some much work internally and externally, particularly in small businesses.

The answer to the question is simple: a SWOT analysis is an imperative as it is a tool used for situation (business or personal) analysis.

SWOT is an acronym which stands for:

  • Strengths: factors that give an edge for the company over its competitors.
  • Weaknesses: factors that can be harmful if used against the firm by its competitors.
  • Opportunities: favorable situations which can bring a competitive advantage.
  • Threats: unfavorable situations which can negatively affect the business.

Strengths and weaknesses are internal to the company and can be directly managed by it, while the opportunities and threats are external and the company can only anticipate and react to them.

When examining the potential for a new business or product, a SWOT analysis can help determine the likely risks and rewards. SWOT, which stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats, is an analytical framework that can help your company face its greatest challenges and find its most promising new markets.

The purpose of a SWOT analysis

In a business context, the SWOT analysis enables organisations to identify both internal and external influences. Outside of business, other organizations have found much use in the method’s guiding principles. Community health and development, education, and other groups have used the analysis. SWOT’s primary objective is to help organizations develop a full awareness of all the factors, positive and negative, that may affect strategic planning and decision-making. This goal can be applied to almost any aspect of industry.

Though SWOT is meant to act primarily as an assessment technique, its lengthy record of success makes it an invaluable tool in project management.

When to use SWOT

SWOT is meant to be used during the proposal stage of strategic planning. It acts as a precursor to any sort of company action, which makes it appropriate for the following moments:

  • Exploring avenues for new initiatives
  • Making decisions about execution strategies for a new policy
  • Identifying possible areas for change in a program
  • Refining and redirecting efforts

The SWOT analysis is an excellent tool for organising information, presenting solutions, identifying roadblocks and emphasising opportunities.

Performing a SWOT analysis is a great way to improve business operations and decision-making, it allows you to identify the key areas where your company is performing at a high level, as well as areas that need work.

Some small business owners make the mistake of thinking about these sorts of things informally, but by taking the time to put together a formalised SWOT analysis, you can come up with ways to better capitalise on your company’s strengths and improve or eliminate weaknesses.

Businesses should not consider the SWOT analysis a cure-all however. Like any self-analysis tool, it can be used incorrectly if we allow our ego or insecurities to drive the content. It is imperative to be as honest with yourself [as possible] and be prepared to provide input that truly reflects your competencies, accomplishments and abilities.

By knowing these things about your company you can work toward an action plan of self-improvement or minimally ensure you select jobs, organisations and leaders that are an appropriate fit for you to improve your chances for success.