Learn How to Make Effective Use of SWOTs in Your Organization
Why do businesses fail? Recent research has shown that top reasons include lack of focus, lack of market need, and not committing to a plan. A top factor for success, meanwhile, is sticking to a chosen path while remaining willing to adjust. So, how do you accomplish that? With a SWOT analysis.
One of the most frustrating things for anyone trying to run an organization is the sense that people aren’t all on the same page. Each individual is consumed with the urgent things they have to get done in the short term, and doesn’t see the bigger picture. Wouldn’t it be great if you all shared a coherent view of the organization’s long-term goals and prospects?
A SWOT analysis provides a clear assessment of your organization’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. It’s a great method for getting that big-picture view so you can be more conscious and intentional with how you run your operations.
So, how does a SWOT analysis work, and how can you use it to benefit your organization? Let’s dive in.
How Do I Perform a SWOT Analysis?
SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. A SWOT analysis is useful because it’s a fairly quick and simple way to cover a lot of bases when planning the trajectory of your organization.
Strengths and Weaknesses are factors internal to your organization. You have control over them. Strengths are things you do well, and Weaknesses are things that may hinder you but which you can improve upon.
Opportunities and Threats are external to your organization. You can’t control them, but you can prepare for them. Opportunities are things you can plan for, in order to take the fullest advantage of them. Threats are things which may prevent you from making the best use of your resources, but with some good planning you can avoid or minimize their effects.
Performing a SWOT analysis is easy. You can do one on your own, or with one or more other key players, separately or as a group.
A SWOT analysis requires just five simple steps:
- Draft a series of questions for each of the four sections (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats). These questions should help you come up with entries for each section.
- Sit down and go through the questions, answering them thoughtfully.
- Use your answers to brainstorm factors that fit into each section for your organization.
- Take everything you come up with from your brainstorm session(s), and condense it down into a handful of key factors.
- Divide a page into four quadrants, one each for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Create a bulleted list in each quadrant listing the factors you came up with.
What Questions Should I Ask During a SWOT Analysis?
To get useful answers from a SWOT analysis, you have to ask useful questions. So, where do you start? Which questions will help produce the best SWOT?
Here are some sample questions to help you get started.
- What are your strongest assets?
- Why are you a better choice than the competition?
- What’s your Unique Selling Proposition?
- What skills do your employees have?
- What do people say you do well?
- How strong is your customer base?
- How do you appeal to your target audience?
- Where do you have room for improvement?
- What advantages does your competition have over you?
- What skills or knowledge do you or your employees lack?
- Do you have enough investment to support your growth?
- Are you making enough profit to sustain growth?
- What do you need to avoid?
- What ongoing trends are happening in your industry?
- Will those trends affect you in a positive way?
- What sorts of external changes will bring you opportunities?
- Are there gaps in the market which you could fill?
- Are your competitors failing to satisfy their customers?
- Could you steal those customers?
- Are there any potential political or economic changes that could benefit you?
- What negative factors exist in the current market?
- Are there potential competitors who can give you trouble in the future?
- What obstacles stand in the way of your current mission?
- Will any changes to laws and regulations affect you in the near future?
- Is your staff satisfied with their compensation?
- Could competitors poach them?
- Are the tastes of your customers changing?
- Could political and economic shifts negatively impact you?
- Could a natural disaster hurt your production?
How Can I Use SWOT Analyses to Grow My Organization?
Because a SWOT analysis is so quick and simple to perform, it’s extremely versatile. You can implement SWOT analyses in high-level planning sessions, at the beginning of individual projects, or as a tool for your marketing and sales staff.
A SWOT analysis has broad appeal for high-level planning because it gives you a comprehensive view of your organization without getting lost in the details. This makes it easier for you to plan the direction you want to take your organization.
You could even have each of your key members perform a SWOT analysis independently before you come together to combine them. This reveals which factors stand out to everyone, and which ones some of you missed.
Once your SWOT matrix is created, you can ask:
- What can we do to maintain our Strengths?
- What can we do to eliminate or minimize our Weaknesses?
- How can we prepare to take full advantage of our Opportunities?
- How can we prepare to minimize or avoid our Threats?
Answer those questions, and you’ll have concrete, actionable recommendations for your organization.
It’s also easy to return to your SWOT analysis and update it. During annual, quarterly, or even monthly reviews, you can take a fresh look at your SWOT to track how well you’re sticking to your priorities and what progress you’ve made.
Your SWOT analysis is additionally a great asset to provide your marketing and sales teams. The SWOT matrix gives a clear picture of your organization and its market positioning. This helps them set goals more in line with your mission.
Lastly, SWOT analyses don’t have to just be for your organization at large. Because SWOT analyses are so quick and straightforward, you can implement a SWOT analysis for individual teams or even for individual projects.
Enlist Help from a Team of Marketing Experts!
A SWOT analysis is definitely a handy tool to have at your disposal. However, sometimes it helps to have an outside perspective and some marketing expertise to help bring it all together and produce insightful recommendations.
Frontier Marketing can help you come up with useful SWOT analyses that help your business grow. Those analyses include interviews, key recommendations, and a condensed matrix to easily communicate the main points.
Have you used SWOT analyses in your business? Have you found them useful? Let us know in the comments!