What is a SWOT Analysis and Does My Business Need One?

SWOT AnalysisDoes your business need a SWOT analysis? The short answer is yes. Blog post finished.

Just kidding! I would never leave you hanging like that. Instead, today I’m going to break down for you exactly what a SWOT analysis is, and explain why they are so important.

What the Heck is a SWOT Analysis?

SWOTs have been around since the ‘60s, and there’s a reason why they’ve stood the test of time: they examine fundamental principals of business success or failure.

Generally speaking, a SWOT analysis is “…a framework used to evaluate a company’s competitive position by identifying its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Specifically, SWOT analysis is a foundational assessment model that measures what an organization can and cannot do, and its potential opportunities and threats.”

Or, in layman’s terms, it’s a way to map out business planning and gauge where your company stands in the current business landscape. And, as 2019 looms, it’s as good a time as any to have one done.

A SWOT Analysis Breakdown

Broken down into internal (strengths and weaknesses) and external (opportunities and threats) factors, a SWOT analysis will help you determine where things are working, and perhaps more importantly, where they aren’t. Here are some important things to look at:

  • Strengths: Figure out what your organization does really well. What do your teams bring to the table? And what can you offer that sets you apart from your competition?
  • Weaknesses: We all have weaknesses. And the goal here isn’t to beat yourself up, it’s to recognize where you can beef up your business to meet your goals. Do you have access to the resources you need? Is there a critical skill-set missing in your organization? Do you have “what you offer” clearly defined and easy for potential clients or customers to understand? And have you shied away from digital marketing or social media?
  • Opportunities: This is the fun part! What can you capitalize on or change to better your business? Are you unique to the market in your area? Could there be opportunities for expansion or partnership on the horizon? Are there underserved areas just waiting for you to fill the void? If you don’t have a digital footprint (including social media) what are you doing to actively build one? Or, if you’re already set up on social, how can you improve upon your online communities and encourage word of mouth marketing?
  • Threats: Threats are pretty self-explanatory. Has the competition in your neck of the woods grown or changed in some way? Is technology changing so quickly that you can’t keep up? Or worse, have you been intimidated by technology and find yourself so far behind your competitors you don’t know how to catch up? And what about industry regulations? Have there been change? And will those changes impact your business or staff? Have you or your brand experienced (or caused!) a PR hiccup that you’re still recovering from?

Can I Do My Own SWOT Analysis?

Yes, you can. But to make a self-SWOT really effective, it’s recommended that you include other team members.
Why? Because it’s easy to fall into the “curse of knowledge” trap. The curse of knowledge is what happens when you don’t “see” what’s really going on around you, because you’re too familiar with the subject matter. Often, you end up not being self-critical enough! Let’s face it, if your business is your baby, it’s very hard to pick it apart in order to improve. Trust me, I know.

Having outside eyeballs do an unbiased SWOT analysis is, in my opinion, the best way to go. Not only will you get a fresh perspective on how your company is doing, you will also benefit from the unique knowledge an outsider can bring to the table. And technology is a great example!

Let’s say you’re behind in the digital space, or intimidated by the rapid tech changes happening lately. You probably won’t be able to tease out the many opportunities available for your brand in the digital space as effectively as someone else can.

The bottom line is, if you’ve never had a SWOT done, or haven’t had one done in a year or so, you should think about starting the process. And, if you can, choose a skilled outside company to help. The investment in your overall business success alone makes it well worth the cost.

How about you? Have you done SWOTs for your company? Did you do them internally or have an outside organization provide fresh insight? Did they help? Please leave your thoughts below!

Line drawn peony from Spodek & Co Digital marketing site