How to Conduct a SWOT Analysis

Updated: Feb 17

A SWOT analysis provides deep insight regarding the strength, weakness, opportunities, and threats to your business enterprise. Knowing how and when to conduct a SWOT analysis can equip you with the knowledge you need to harness competitive advantage in the marketplace and strengthening of operations for your market position.


The core elements of a SWOT analysis include analyzing your organization's strength, weakness, opportunities and threats. Each of these elements (when thoroughly reviewed) result in a deep dive experience providing insight and direction for your strategic planning process.


Knowing your strengths (what you are good at and what customers say you do well) can certainly affirm you are moving in the right direction with your business. But, periodically, a comprehensive SWOT analysis needs to analyze weakness, opportunities and threats to empower your organization to maintain a competitive edge.” by Timothy Osborn

When should a SWOT analysis be completed?


Typically startup companies will complete an initial SWOT analysis during their strategic business planning stage preparing their new venture for go-to-market impact and knowing how to position themselves among competitors. Yet, an initial SWOT is not enough once the business has launched. I recommend completing a SWOT analysis annually and including it in your annual report or strategic plan where you communicate your goals, strategies and objectives for the upcoming year to your investors, bankers, and executive management teams. A periodic ongoing SWOT analysis approach is an integral part to positioning your organization within the market and maintaining or gaining competitive advantage.


How is a SWOT analysis completed?


Literally, there are hundreds of articles about how to complete a SWOT analysis by simply conducting a google search. Many of these articles provide direct insights into the four core elements of strength, weakness, opportunity and threat. For the purpose of this blog post, I want to share our approach at The Osborn Group, LLC for how we conduct SWOT analysis and review each of the four elements.


SWOT Analysis
SWOT Analysis by The Osborn Group, LLC

Strengths:


Several considerations apply to each of the four core elements of a SWOT analysis. When your consider the topic of strengths, here are a few short questions you may research and ask about your organization:


  1. List the things your company does well. What makes you stand apart and what are your good (really good) at doing based on what your customers say and your employees?

  2. What are the qualities that set you apart from your competitors? What advantages do you currently experience in your market position?

  3. What are your human resource strengths? What specific or unique skill sets do your staff or executives have that position you for success long-term? What are your internal resources - human, capital, cultural, intellectual property, assets etc.?

Weaknesses:


Let's discuss weaknesses. Weaknesses may simply be things that aren't going well or areas where improvement are needed. Here are a few questions to get you going on this topic:


  1. Are there any things that your company lacks? Lack of resources? Lack of talent? Lack of cash? Lack of funding?

  2. What are things that your competitors do better than you? Yes, we need to ask this question.

  3. What are your limitations? What do you want to do but can't and why? The why will reveal the weakness.

  4. What is your sales process? How do you generate revenue? Is there anything unclear that may be barriers to your goals?

Opportunities:


  1. Are there any underserved markets where you can target your products or services to find opportunities?

  2. Is it appropriate to engage with business partners to seek out opportunities for referrals and working together? Recently, one of the vertical lines of our management consulting portfolio was not receiving the lead generations we desired. We reviewed the weakness and identified several partners where we could fill a specific niche within the market empowering them and utilizing our management consulting approach - it was a win-win! We immediately begin to see leads pick up in this specific vertical.

  3. How can you strengthen yourself to gain market share and rise to the preferred category ahead of your competitors?

  4. What is the current press or media coverage for your company? How can this improve?

  5. Does market research indicate a rising or emerging need for your products, goods or services? If so, how can you maximize that opportunity?

  6. Is there a need to re-tool or reposition your organization? If so, what opportunities exist for responding to that need?

Threats:

  1. Are there emerging competitors that you are not aware of who could harness or threaten your market position?

  2. Are there any changing regulatory concerns that could negatively impact your business model and operations? Certainly, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted organizations in ways they had not previously imagined. At The Osborn Group, LLC we were hit hard by the pandemic. Clients and our consultants no longer could interact in a public space or by office/site visits. So many things changed. We found it necessary to re-tool virtually - moving all of our products, services and offering into an online experience.

  3. Have you received any negative press or media coverage?

  4. What are your customer's attitudes toward your product or service? Is it changing?

  5. Are sales increasing? Is volume growing? What is the root cause to the changes you may be experiencing?

Did you know?


Were you aware that most publicly traded companies complete SWOT analysis as part of their investor relations program and investor communications? Yes, it is true! I remember several years ago thinking to myself, if Starbucks Company thinks this process is important - maybe I should too!


Let's take a moment and review the 2020 SWOT Analysis completed by Starbucks Company as part of their investor relations communications.


Amazing isn't it! All the more reason why this process is important for every startup entrepreneur venturing out into a new business and every executive leadership team annually reviewing their organization's market position and competitive advantage.


(C) Copyright 2021 - The Osborn Group, LLC - All rights reserved. Sharing is permitted and appreciated.

About the Author - Timothy G. Osborn is the Founder/ Sr. Partner & Management Consultant at The Osborn Group, LLC where " We empower and equip emerging entrepreneurs, founders, c-suite executives, intrapreneurs, and corporate teams through three pathways designed for strategic impact - challenges, courses, and consulting."

Challenges are created to nurture and inspire personal and professional business development. Courses provide structured curriculum and utilize proven process models to fuel strategy formation and harness results. Consulting capabilities provide deeper insights across a wide array of industries, by our expert consulting team, customized specifically toward your needs and engagement objectives identified by your initial free consultation, deep-dive analysis.

The Osborn Group, LLC serves SMEs and BigCos as a Certified LGBTBE company participating in supplier diversity initiatives and request for proposal inquiries.


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