Jan 14 2017
How to Leverage SWOT Analysis for your Business
All businesses needed to analyse situations carefully before taking decisions. That way, there will be fewer chances of making mistakes and designing strategies that won’t work. It is the beginning of a new year, an opportunity to take time and evaluate the strength and weaknesses of your business. So you can start in a sound footing. The application of SWOT analysis becomes a valuable tool for this purpose. SWOT Analysis is a useful technique for understanding your Strengths and Weaknesses, and for identifying both the Opportunities open to you and the Threats you face. Originated by Albert S Humphrey in the 1960s, the tool is as useful now as it was then.
What makes SWOT particularly powerful is that, with a little thought, it can help you uncover opportunities that you are well-placed to exploit. And by understanding the weaknesses of your business, you can manage and eliminate threats that would otherwise catch you unawares.
More than this, by looking at yourself and your competitors using the SWOT framework, you can start to craft a strategy that helps you distinguish yourself from your competitors, so that you can compete successfully in your market.
Application of SWOT as A Veritable Tool for your Business
It functions primarily in analysing your business strengths, weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.
SWOT Analysis is a very effective way of identifying your Strengths and Weaknesses, and of examining the Opportunities and Threats you face. Carrying out an analysis using the SWOT framework will help you to focus your activities into areas where you are strong, and where the greatest opportunities lie.
How to use it as a tool: To carry out a SWOT Analysis , write down answers to the following questions:
- What are your advantages?
- What do you do well?
- What do other people see as your strengths?
Consider this from your own point of view and from the point of view of the people you deal with. Don’t be modest. Be realistic. If you are having any difficulty with this, try writing down a list of your characteristics. Some of these will hopefully be strengths!
- What could you improve?
- What do you do badly?
- What should you avoid?
Again, consider this from an internal and external basis: Do other people seem to perceive weaknesses that you do not see? Are your competitors doing any better than you? It is best to be realistic now, and face any unpleasant truths as soon as possible.
- Where are the good opportunities facing you?
- What are the interesting trends you are aware of?
Useful opportunities can come from such things as:
- 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, etc.
- Local Events
- What obstacles do you face?
- What is your competition doing?
- Are the required specifications for your job, products or services changing?
- Is changing technology threatening your position?
- Do you have bad debt or cash-flow problems?
Carrying out this analysis will often be illuminating, both in terms of pointing out what needs to be done, and in putting problems into perspective.
You can also apply SWOT analysis to your competitors, as this may produce some interesting insights!
Example: A start-up small consultancy business might carry out the following SWOT analysis:
- We are able to respond very quickly as we have no red tape, no need for higher management approval, etc.
- We are able to give really good customer care, as the current small amount of work means we have plenty of time to devote to customers.
- Michael Johnson has strong reputation within the market.
- We can change direction quickly if we find that our marketing is not working.
- We have little overhead, so can offer good value to customers.
- Our company has no market presence or reputation.
- We have a small staff with a shallow skills base in many areas.
- We are vulnerable to vital staff being sick, leaving, etc.
- Our cash flow will be unreliable in the early stages.
- Our business sector is expanding, with many future opportunities for success.
- Our local council wants to encourage local businesses with work where possible.
- Our competitors may be slow to adopt new technologies.
- Will developments in XYZ technology change this market beyond our ability to adapt?
- A small change in focus of a large competitor might wipe out any market position we achieve.
The consultancy might therefore decide to specialise in rapid response, good value services to local businesses. Marketing would be in selected local publications, to get the greatest possible market presence for a set advertising budget. The consultancy should keep up-to-date with changes in technology where possible.
Key points: SWOT analysis is a framework for analyzing your strengths and weaknesses, and the opportunities and threats you face.
This will help you to focus on your strengths, minimize weaknesses, and take the greatest possible advantage of opportunities available.
Function: Predicting whether a financial decision will be viable, and investigating the impact of changing factors
About the Author: Adams Amana is an experienced freelance writer and the editor at www.cash4wealthng.com
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