SWOT Analysis Cheat Sheet for Business Owners

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The last time some of you did a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis might have been in college, and although you might just see it as a teaching aid, it still holds merit as a useful tool in business planning and strategy. Whether you are looking at your own business or a competitor’s business, a SWOT can help you understand what’s going on within a business, and where it is heading in the future.

It can show you how you measure up to your competitors, outlining important areas when it comes to future business growth and planning.

Note: Strengths and weaknesses are often internal to your organization, while opportunities and threats generally relate to external factors.

Example of an external factor: Salesforce giving away Pardot very inexpensively. It caused a lot of confusion in the market.

Example of an internal factor: Your young team suddenly isn’t as young and they are hitting an age where they are building families. Will you suddenly have trouble planning travel for clients?

Breaking down the SWOT

S - Strengths

As I’m sure you can guess, this category is about things that your company does well - your strengths. This could be a unique selling proposition or brand attributes, or more personal like leadership or a certain team asset.

Think about your strengths:

  • What advantages does your organization have?

  • What do you do better than anyone else?

  • What unique or lowest-cost resources can you draw upon that others can’t?

  • What do people in your market see as your strengths?

  • What factors mean that you “get the sale”?

  • What is your organization’s unique differentiator?

W - Weaknesses

Once you’ve figured out what you do well you, unfortunately, need to look at what you don’t. This could include organizational challenges like inter-departmental feuding, budget, sales overselling, or the most common weakness- lack of communication.

Think about your weaknesses:

  • What could you improve?

  • What should you avoid?

  • What are people in your market likely to see as weaknesses?

  • What factors lose you sales?

Consideration:

  • Are our competitors doing any better than you?

  • What are their weaknesses?

O - Opportunities

Look at opportunities where your business can excel. Whether your company has an idea for a great new product, or you’ve started to break into a new demographic. Those are all opportunities for growth.

Think of possible opportunities:

  • What good opportunities can you spot or see coming up?

  • What interesting trends are you aware of?

  • What have you done in the past?

T - Threats

A threat is anything that poses a risk to your further growth. These could include newly emerging competitors, lack of resources, changing laws or restrictions, and anything else that could pose a threat to your future success.

Think about what threats you may have:

  • What obstacles do you face?

  • What are your competitors doing?

  • Are quality standards or specifications for your services changing?

  • Is changing technology threatening your position?

Now what?

Now that you have a full picture of your business you will be able to assess your strengths and weaknesses and see what can be improved, and what opportunities can be seized.

Now that you’ve done a SWOT analysis:

  • Build a plan to build up your strengths

  • FInd ways to compensate for your weaknesses

  • Set individual goals for each opportunity you identified

  • Use your strengths to mitigate the threats you identified

  • Look at strengths and opportunities to identify new strategies

We recommend doing a SWOT analysis once a year while working on your annual plan. It is a tool that you can use again and again in your organization to explore new opportunities and improve your decision-making processes.

Whether it’s internal or external factors, every business has strengths and weaknesses. If you did this SWOT analysis and think, “what now?” Maybe we can help. As a full-service marketing agency, we have a team of marketing specialists that have been helping businesses to grow and improve their processes.