You’ve probably heard the term “SWOT,” but maybe you’re not totally sure what it is or why you should care about it. A SWOT analysis is an easy way to get yourself organized when developing an actionable plan.
What is a SWOT analysis? SWOT is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. This structured planning method evaluates those four elements of a project or business venture. A SWOT analysis can help you conduct your due diligence, think about things that could potentially impact the success of a new project and give you a sense of where you stack up against your competitors. But, SWOT analysis isn’t just limited to a business – you can conduct an analysis on a product, a place, an industry or even a person!
How do you get started?
Before embarking on a new project, take a step back to understand the landscape of your peers and competitors. A SWOT analysis is a simple 2×2 matrix that will help you organize that information. To get started you can draw a quadrant (like the one below) or just create a list with each of the four main categories.
The general guidelines of a SWOT analysis are simple: Strengths and Weaknesses should be internal facing, Opportunities and Threats should be external facing. List out three or four items under each category to get a general overview of the landscape.
Let’s look at an example.
You work for a financial company that wants to start a corporate blog, and you’ve been asked to help the stakeholders figure our where to begin. They know that there is a lot of in-house expertise so writing a blog feels like a “good” thing to do. Putting together a SWOT analysis will help you easily communicate where the gaps are internally, as well as what things to be aware of externally. A hypothetical SWOT analysis for this example looks something like this (please note this is just an example):
When looking at the SWOT above, you might decide that the current infrastructure needs to be addressed first. If the company isn’t sure where the blog will live and how they will get the word out, it is probably premature to have employees start writing. By conducting a simple SWOT analysis, your company is able to see at a glance where the potential pitfalls are.
A SWOT analysis is a useful tool to get organized and find out what you do and don’t know about your company and your competitors. By taking a few minutes to think about your company and your competitors you will have the information you need to create an actionable plan.
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