What’s a SWOT Analysis?

Not to be confused with the verb “to swat” (an action I was increasingly using in late summer as the flies invaded my house), the SWOT analysis came to mind while eradicating my kitchen of the annoying flying creatures. Why? (They do sound similar…)

We need fast, efficient tools for making good decisions. SWOT analysis quickly provides great perspective, from multiple angles. As the remaining months of the year seem to become compressed, the ability to determine the right business decisions seems to get harder. And the idea of making a deep dive, analyzing what to do to increase revenues, seems daunting. There must be a better way….

The acronym stands for:

  • Strengths
  • Weaknesses
  • Opportunities
  • Threats

At MindTools, they describe the process as, “SWOT Analysis helps you to identify your organization’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. It guides you to build on what you do well, address what you’re lacking, seize new openings, and minimize risks. Apply a SWOT Analysis to assess your organization’s position before you decide on any new strategy.”

How & What to Analyze with SWOT

Many use the SWOT analysis to examine their position within the marketplace. By doing so, they can better determine their strategy to gain market share, or to enter a whole new market.

As you’re likely to feel pressed for time too, I thought I’d provide a few, quick ‘n’ easy examples. From there, you can likely run with the ball on the concept.

Many SWOT analyses consist of different topics being reviewed in some of the four categories. But when I perform these analyses for clients, I add a fifth column on the left to identify the topic being reviewed under each category. That way, I’m sure to analyze each topic in all four categories.

SWOT Example #1 – Marketing > Website

In this example, we’re looking at different tactics within a business’ marketing strategy, beginning with its website performance. Here’s a quick look at the evaluation:

  • Strengths – Website’s appearance, functionality and user experience is performing well as borne out by Google Analytics’ reporting (represented by 4 stars below).
  • Weaknesses – Website could be accepting new client appointments and booking them on a calendar, but it’s not being used yet.
  • Opportunities – Implement Calendly, or other appointment software, on the website a.s.a.p. to increase conversion of visitors to appointments.
  • Threats – Our competitors are already using appointment-booking software AND the mobile versions of their sites run more smoothly than ours.
SWOT ex 1

Above: Example #1 written in a form of shorthand is easy to digest. Perhaps you prefer smiley or frowny faces?

SWOT Example #2 – Marketing > Social Media

Below, we’re examining the performance of social media presence and results. Here’s a quick look at the evaluation:

  • Strengths – Lots of followers, daily posts and stories. Looks very busy.
  • Weaknesses – Despite high volume of posts, few engage with each post or story.
  • Opportunities – Social Media Manager needs to implement questions to the followers in posts. Use polls, surveys, request comments, and ask viewers to take actions.
  • Threats – Platforms are not owned by us. The algorithm changes frequently and the technology changes extremely fast, rendering some efforts moot at the whims of Meta or Google.
SWOT ex 2

SWOT Example #3 – Products > Quality, Popularity

Next, we’ll shift to review a business’ product or service line. Here’s a quick look at the evaluation:

  • Strengths – Product quality is very high. Positive/rave reviews. High perceived value.
  • Weaknesses – Customers ask for more options. Competitors have wider selection.
  • Opportunities – Have just connected with supplier who can provide add’l options. Need to implement.
  • Threats – We used to be only game in town. New business launched in town that is in direct competition. Need to analyze differences between us.
SWOT ex 3

SWOT Example #4 – Products > Pricing, Tiers

Lastly, we’ll look at a business’ product pricing structure. Here’s a quick look at the evaluation:

  • Strengths – Very competitive, value pricing.
  • Weaknesses – Margins are razor thin. Suppliers hard to find. So we’re vulnerable to a price hike that could be devastating.
  • Opportunities – Review newly available raw goods that could give us better wiggle room on cost.
  • Threats – Popular product has led many to enter competitive fray. Market saturation may be on the horizon.
SWOT ex 4

In each of these four examples, you can see that the analysis is made quickly, off the top of one’s head. The intent here is to get a quick overview of where you have gaps in your business model or marketing strategy.

Have you forgotten a step you had planned to implement? Did you recently meet an expert who could help with a specific area that has been difficult to get under control?  Your gut may be reminding you to fix a portion of your business before the end of the year. But if you’ve had too many different plates to keep spinning the past few months, you may have forgotten about a few, key areas to get functioning smoothly.

What Do I Do with SWOT Analysis?

At first glance, this may seem like more work than you have time for. But fear not, you’ll notice I used a type of shorthand to jot down quick evaluation and concerns. As a business owner or manager, you likely already know from monthly financials, or even your day-to-day interactions with clients, suppliers and your target audience, what you’re good at and where the threats are on the periphery.

This is a tool for jotting it all down in a table format. You see I’ve embellished with emoji for a quick way to represent the good, the bad, and the ugly. You could use color coding. (Green is for strengths, yellow for areas of concern, and red for imminent threats you should address a.s.a.p.)

Another fast method of capturing SWOT information is to omit my fifth column and simply write in your stream of consciousness for each strength, weakness, opportunity and threat category. You can always go back later to examine any one topic in depth. Here’s how that looks in an example from Wordstream:

Wordstream SWOT Example

SWOT Analysis is a great way to get quick perspective on your business from both within and without. Have you been overlooking a new business that just landed in town? Are you just realizing you’re the only game in town for XYZ?

While successfully swatting flies can be satisfactory in late summer, a great SWOT analysis can be an invaluable year-round tool to help you decide your business priorities for the next few months or the next year.

Thwack!!! Nailed it.

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