When I was young and living in Britain, the word Swot was a derogatory word used for someone who these days we would call a nerd. It was a classmate that did all his or her homework on time and even, for heaven’s sake, did extra because they enjoyed it! Swotting was what you did prior to a test or exam.
Today, I began to write my next six-month business plan for YourBBC and I thought about SWOT, not studying however, but using a S.W.O.T. analysis to help plan how my partner and I will approach our business over the next 25 weeks or so. If you’d like to know more about six-month business plans and why they are gaining popularity with small business owners, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send you a free copy of the Blue Beetle Books eMagazine that featured an article on them.
Back to S.W.O.T analyses – what are they? First, let’s look at what the acronym stands for: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats. The idea behind doing a SWOT analysis is to create a table that has four columns each headed with one of the terms. Then with your team, or in my case my business partner, look at each one in turn and create a list of things that apply.
- For instance, what are your company’s strengths? Where do you perform well? In what ways are you better than your competition? Are you financially secure – well financed? Do you have excellent parking? Are you well located? Do you offer better guarantees, or warranties? Are your staff friendlier? List anything you can think off.
- What are your company’s weaknesses? Take the list above and turn it on its head? Where do your competition outperform you?
- Once you review your strengths and weaknesses you should start to spot opportunities. Things you can promote to your customers, areas of potential growth and of course things you could do better. Growth and prosperity lie in opportunities.
- In the final column you need to look hard at what could threaten your success. Threats can come from weaknesses, but they can also come from positive things like growth. List anything that might threaten your company over the next six-months; for instance, new competition, poor cash flow, equipment breakdowns, key staff leaving etc.
Once you have your SWOT analysis refer to it continually as you start to pull your business plan together. You will find it helpful in keeping your feet firmly on the ground as you plan the future of your business.
Okay, I’m heading over to my white board armed with four different coloured markers to see where Your Better Business Content stands as we head into the next six-months of our business.