First things first, what exactly is a swot analysis, or swot, and why exactly should you do one?
A SWOT analysis helps you establish where you are right now with your business and which directions you can go in – and which you shouldn’t.
Once you know how to do a swot analysis, they are an incredibly useful tool to use in your business life (and possibly in other areas of your life too!). Every professional marketer out there will carry out a swot analysis before they come up with any great marketing ideas, strategies or plans.
A swot analysis can give you all sorts of hidden gems that you have within your business. Once you’ve uncovered your gems, you just need to polish them up and put them to work.
Definition of a SWOT
Very simply, a swot analysis is a breakdown (or analysis) of your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.
And, in particular, those strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that relate to you and your business.
How do I do one?
Get a piece of paper and divide it into quadrants (ie draw a line down the middle from top to bottom, and a line across the middle from left to right so you end up with four squares).
In your top left hand square write ‘Strengths’ along the top (where you would write a title for that quadrant);
In your top right hand square write ‘Weaknesses';
In your bottom left hand square write ‘Opportunities';
In your bottom right hand square write ‘Threats’.
You should now have four squares with a title across the top of each square.
Now it’s time for a bit of brain storming (or is it a thought shower these days?). Anyway, time to get thinking.
In your Strengths square, write a list of all the good, positive things you can think of about you (yes, you as an individual), your company, your company’s products or service.
By the way, this is becomes part of your own personal marketing plan, and you can say what you want here, in your own words. No-one else will have to read it. So feel free to get carried away with how wonderful you are, your company is and so on.
Write as many things as you can think of.
Run out of things to put? What about your skills? What comes naturally to you? What is so easy for you to do that you think everyone should be able to do it? What are your passions? What do get on your soapbox about?
Let’s move on to your Weaknesses square.
This is where you write a list of all the things that you’re not good at (yes, we all have them and it’s OK!); as well as the things that you really dislike doing, or find boring to do, even though you may actually be good at doing them.
Be honest (it’s OK, no-one is going to read this list!). It’s important to know your weak points so that you can develop strategies to do something about them. Or, even better, play to your strengths.
Although this forms part of your business and marketing plan, you shouldn’t just concentrate on your business weaknesses. Your business is a reflection of you, and should be congruent with who you are and allow you to run it authentically. You do therefore need to understand the good points about you and your business, as well as the “˜bad’.
You also need to think about weaknesses in relation to your company, your products and/or your services. Can’t think of any? Has anyone heard of your company? Can customers buy products on the internet? You don’t clearly communicate what you do? People don’t buy when they get to your website?
Again, write as many things as you can come up with.
On to your Opportunities square.
This is your place for untapped potential.
What opportunities are there for you to develop your business? Is there a big city near by that you haven’t touched with your business yet? Could your products or services reach some different groups of people than the ones you currently sell to? Do you have any unfulfilled desires to have an international business? What about developing an internet business?
This is the area where you need to think laterally, or ‘outside the box’. Think big too if this is in line with your goals.
If you’re struggling (and sometimes this is the area where people have the smallest list), then how about doing some research?
And a little tip: your strengths list is likely to show you extra opportunities for your business.Â Just approach it with an open mind.
Got some opportunities to exlore?
Swot analysis shaping up nicely?
Good. Let’s move on to our last square – Threats.
In this quadrant you’ll write a list of all the things that are or could be a threat to you and your business.
I suspect no-one is actually threatening you (hopefully!), but an over-competitive market could be perceived as a threat. Personally it doesn’t bother me, but to some it could be seen as a problem.
Another example could be that you are about to have a baby which is going to severely limit (and threaten) the time that you can spend on your business.
Or maybe you just haven’t got enough money to fund the growth of your business.
This is another area where you’ll need to think outside the box a bit, but your weaknesses list is likely to highlight some areas that would fit into this quadrant.
What I’d like you to do now is put your swot analysis away for the rest of the day. Go have some fun. Do something creative.
Do something to put a smile on your face. And…
..come back to your lists tomorrow.
Because we can get stuck in a particular way of thinking, and sometimes just can’t think of things which are perfectly obvious at any other time.
So, let your brain rest and re-energise.
Come back to your swot analysis tomorrow and you’ll be amazed at all the extra strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that have popped up to the surface over night.
Done that? Great!
Before you declare it finished, give it to your partner, best friend, mentor, coach or whoever else you trust to see if they can add anything.
What you’ve probably got now is an A4 piece of paper with notes scribbled all over the place as you’ve added more and more items to your list. What I suggest is that you type or write all that up neatly and feel extremely pleased and proud with yourself that you’ve completed your very own swot analysis.
If you’ve been tempted to skip parts, or not think too thoroughly about your SWOT, then I strongly recommend that you go back and go through this exercise fully.
Don’t forget a swot analysis is a tool, and a very useful one at that. What if the screwdriver inventor had got bored at the handle design stage and hadn’t carried on? Everything would fall apart! ;o)
A tool is only useful if it’s fully functioning. So make your swot analysis fully functioning for you and do it in detail.
Hope that helps,
Have a great week,
PS If you like the information that I put in this blog, you’ll definitely like “Magic Marketing – Finding Your Niche With Ease”.Â This is a guided coaching session delivered by way of an audio programme (so you don’t even have to leave the comfort of your sofa), where I go through your SWOT analysis in more detail, as well as lots of other exercises to help you find the perfect niche for you and your business.Â You can find out more about it here: http://www.merriemarketing.com/findyourniche.html