How to Use SWOT to Uncover Opportunities In Your Small Business

SWOT Analysis to Uncover Hidden Opportunities

As business owners, we often develop tunnel vision about our business. We may become more removed from the daily operations, have certain beliefs that are outdated or are so busy working IN our business that we can’t see the big picture.

So getting feedback about your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats is important as you develop your goals and plan your direction moving forward. Here is what you should consider:

What A SWOT Tells You

Strengths are those things that make your business stronger than your competitors and might include things like an established (loyal) customer base, a good reputation, a product or service that sells well, high-traffic location or quality employees.

Weaknesses are those areas in which your company could stand improvement. These make you susceptible to economic pressures, market forces, and aggressive competitors. Examples might include employee problems, lack of marketing and sales expertise, poor products or services, lack of capital or cash or bad location.

Opportunities are those things that have the potential to make your business more enduring and profitable. These might include new or expanding markets or products, mergers or acquisitions, strategic alliances, or competitors going out of business or leaving the market.

Threats are those things that have the potential to adversely affect your business. Threats might include changing market conditions, rising debt, cash flow problems, stronger competition, legal or tax changes, failing or weak suppliers or strategic partners or new technology.

How To Get Started

A SWOT analysis helps give you a very clear picture of the issues facing your business so you can take advantage of your strengths and opportunities and formulate a plan to address the weaknesses.

Keep your SWOT simple – but don’t do it alone. Ask for feedback from others. Here’s the steps to do a SWOT analysis for your small business:

  1. Identify the people you want to get feedback from, including employees, vendors, alliance partners, clients, investors, mentors or other ‘friends’ of your business.
  2. Send an email requesting feedback on your business. Include:
    • Brief explanation – example: “As part of our continuous improvement efforts, we are conducting an analysis that will look at our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.”
    • Survey questions – example: What are the strengths of [company name]
  3. Recap the feedback into a summary document. List your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Don’t take everything as gospel, but look for some consistent trends or comments. Use this to help guide you as you formulate your goals and plans.
  4. Thank participants for their honesty and summarize for them what you learned – at whatever level of detail you are comfortable with.
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