SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It is a research method that can help you gain insight into every corner of your business. If you are starting a business it can help you define and reinforce the viability of your business. For existing business a swot can help set future goals and explore different directions. It can work hand-in-hand with your strategic plan. The SWOT process will help you gather information so you can make informed decisions about the future of your business. Throughout the process you will also gain insight that will help you build a stronger business structure and marketing plan.
How do you conduct a SWOT analysis?
External: From a client’s prospective what makes your product or service strong and unique?
Internal: What strengths do you bring to the business?
External: What disadvantages can arise that could have a major impact on my business?
Internal: As a business owner you should consider what things you will need to learn in order for the business to grow. You will also need to evaluate what tasks you procrastinate with but need to do. Don’t keep putting things off.
External: What are the goals for the next few months or year? Do you want to increase your product line, sales or client base? .
Internal: Where do you see yourself in two years or five years?
External: Consider the things you cannot control but have to be aware of such as the environment, economy, other competition and the weather.
Internal: Consider personal events that could potentially affect your business, ie. a sickness could be a very big threat.
- If you are a sole proprietor, carry a note book around with you and throughout the day lists ideas in each of categories. Talk to your mentor or family about your SWOT.
- Within an organization you can brainstorm with others. Set up several meeting to discuss each category. This is a good exercise to make sure everyone is on the same page and has the same vision.
- In each category put the ideas in order of importance.
- Discuss in detail each category. Start making an action plan. Strengths -can be used in a marketing plan and to gain valuable knowledge about the products or services.Weaknesses can help the business owner or organization put a structure in place to overcome, create awareness and plan for change. On a daily basis having a solid structure will help your business to continue to run smoothly.Opportunities are basically realistic goals. It is impossible to do everything at once but with good planning you can introduce new products or services in a way that reflects growth.Threats can devastate a business if not viewed the right way. There are things that happen that are beyond your control. Just being aware of what is going on outside your business will definitely have an impact on your business.
The important thing to remember is to be realistic while doing a SWOT. If something is unattainable then other objectives need to be discussed. It should help you identify and generate new goals as well as the best direction to grow your business.
The Halton Small Business Centre can help new and existing business with SWOT analysis and business planning. For more information, visit us at the Halton Small Business Centre, 1151 Bronte Road, Oakville or online at www.halton.ca/business.