In my last blog I talked about the benefits of taking some time to review your business by performing a SWOT Analysis. This will help you plan for next year and beyond as you understand your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.
This time I’d like to give you some best practices to help you get the most out of your SWOT Analysis. Here are some tips about what you should do and not do as you are performing your analysis.
- Get multiple perspectives by gathering input from employees, customers, suppliers, and partners.
- Involve more than one person in the analysis. It’s also helpful to include someone external to the organization who can help you look at things objectively.
- Use the goals and objectives from your overall business plan in your analysis.
- Be forward-thinking. Where are you today, where do you want to be next year, in 5 years, in 10 years?
- Create a clear definition of what a strength is as opposed to a weakness. Apply the definition consistently. Likewise, establish clear definitions of an opportunity vs. a threat.
- Benchmark your strengths or weaknesses in comparison to your competitors.
- Establish a process (and responsibility) for keeping abreast of what your competitors are doing and identifying any changes in the market.
- Be realistic about how your business compares to your competitors.
- Keep your SWOT short and simple but be sure you include all critical details.
- Rely on opinions. Instead, focus on facts.
- Limit input to just a few people.
- Make too long of a list of suggestions under each category. Prioritize your list to those that are most critical and financially feasible.
- Hesitate to admit weaknesses. Identifying them is the first step in improving.
- Forget to include both technical skills and soft skills as you consider the skills you need going forward.
- Use your SWOT analysis as your only planning tool. Combine what you learn from your SWOT with other business planning tools.
Please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need some help in putting together your SWOT analysis.