A strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis
A SWOT analysis is a strategy planning tool that examines both internal and external environments for factors and trends that should shape planning and operations over the next five years. Environmental factors internal to the company are classified as strengths (to be leveraged) or weaknesses (to be mitigated), while external factors are classified as either opportunities (to be pursued) or threats (to be monitored and responded to).
Some primer questions for the SWOT analysis include the following:
- 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 cannot?
- What do people in your market see as your strengths?
- What factors mean that you “get the sale”?
- What is your organization’s unique selling proposition (USP)?
- What aspects of your product or service could you improve?
- What market segments or competitive areas should you avoid?
- What are people in your market likely to see as weaknesses?
- What factors can make you lose sales?
- What good opportunities can you spot?
- What interesting trends are you aware of?Useful opportunities can come from such things as the following:
- Changes in technology and markets on both a broad and narrow scale
- Changes in government policy related to your field
- Changes in social patterns, population profiles, lifestyle changes, and so on
- Local events
- What obstacles do you face?
- What are your competitors doing?
- Are quality standards or specifications for your job, products, or services changing?
- Is changing technology threatening your position?
- Do you have bad debt or cash-flow problems?
- Could any of your weaknesses seriously threaten your business?