SWOT’s Up: The Power of a Good SWOT analysis

SWOT’s Up: The Power of a Good SWOT analysis

Whether you’re a seasoned entrepreneur, limited company or sole-trader, understanding the power of a good SWOT analysis is the key to unlocking untapped potential and fortifying your business against the winds of change. It is far more than a checklist, it is where insight meets action and potential transforms into a dynamic force shaping the future of businesses.

What is a SWOT analysis?

A SWOT analysis is a strategic planning tool that has been around for a really long time. It stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. It should be used succinctly and provides a comprehensive framework for assessing internal and external factors impacting a business, a project, or person. It’s super simple, doesn’t take long and when we look back and reflect on previous years analysis, we can see how much progress has been made, or recognise how things that seemed important back then are no longer important and worth pursuing. That in itself is a great leveller. Download our free SWOT analysis template here. 

The SWOT analysis process 

First off, decide what to analyse – it could be your business overall, a specific project, or even yourself as a business leader. Just remember that honesty is always the best policy, and the more honest your answers, the more helpful this process will be. 

Secondly, and it’s not often we encourage going against the digital grain, but consider stepping away from your screen for this task. The cognitive benefits of physically putting pen to paper will make this analytical process much more powerful as it engages different parts of your brain, potentially improving memory and comprehension. We recommend printing out our free SWOT analysis template as large as possible, or writing your analysis on some super large, flip-chart paper.

It’s essential to consider individual preferences, though, and the context of use. Ultimately, whether you choose to write it out by hand or type it digitally, the key is to create a meaningful and actionable analysis that suits your needs and preferences.

How detailed should a SWOT analysis be?

The length and details of a SWOT analysis depend on your specific context and goals. Whether it’s a concise one-page overview or a more detailed report, the key is to present relevant information that helps stakeholders make informed decisions and develop effective strategies.

The SWOT analysis framework

As well as a good serving of self praise (and there’s nothing wrong with that), a SWOT analysis can really help focus the mind to the opportunities and areas to focus on in the forthcoming year. 

Below are some helpful SWOT analysis pointers to get you started …

Questions to ask yourself
  • What does your business do really well? 
  • Is there a unique selling point (USP) that sets you apart from your competitors? 
  • Is your workforce is highly skilled?
  • Have you recently invested in cutting-edge technology?
Examples answers
  • I have efficient processes in place to ensure my company’s website is always kept up-to-date, instilling trust in my customers
  • I have improved customer relationships so that I can make highly personalised recommendations, tailored to the specific needs of an individual, and as a result sales have increased
  • I have reviewed my pricing strategy to ensure profitability, and commissioned my accountant to prepare a cashflow forecast. This means I am confident my business is sustainable for the long-term
Questions to ask yourself
  • What internal challenges are you facing? 
  • Are there any areas of your business that need improvement? 
  • Are your financial resources too limited? 
  • Are you dependant on a single supplier?
Example answers
  • I find it difficult finding the time to post consistently on social media, which means I miss out of staying top-of-mind with my current clients and potentially reaching new ones
  • I have a small, outsourced team who have limited time and budget. My expectations are too high with regards to their realistic output
  • My PC’s need replacing and are limiting efficiency
  • I take on too much myself and constantly feel stressed/burnt out
Questions to ask yourself
  • Are there any current or emerging trends in your industry you could capitalise on? 
  • Is now a good time to expand?
  • What can I learn from successful competitors?
Example answers
  • If I improved my passive income I would feel less tired
  • If I attended more in-person networking events I could potentially meet new customers whilst also  solidify existing relationships
  • If I invested in a new Business Development role I would free up a lot of my time and grow the business
Questions to ask yourself
  • What external challenges does your business face?
  • Are there any particular risks in your industry that need addressing? 
  • Are you facing intense competition in a saturated market place?
  • What is happening in the economy that could affect your business?
Example answers
  • I’m too reliant on Instagram as my only way to reach new audiences 
  • The cost of living crisis means my customers have less money to spend on my services
  • AI is constantly automating the processes that I offer as services, so I need to differentiate to ensure long-term business survival

And finally … relax

Once you’ve done this, put it down. You’ve just emptied your head of all the distracting thoughts and ideas that were monopolising your attention and affecting your downtime. With a clear, actionable SWOT analysis, you are now ready to take action when the time is right. So, step back from the business, recharge your batteries, and enjoy some well deserved rest and relaxation. 

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