5. Swot Analysis

As you would expect, large businesses are constantly reviewing how they ‘fit’ in their marketplace, trying to identify issues before they become a problem and exploiting any opportunities that appear. They will probably have a whole raft of specialists helping them with this exercise, both employees and external consultants.

The danger is they overcomplicate matters and the business world is littered with firms that didn’t spot the obvious; such as Rolls Royce and the impact of falling oil prices, or Tesco’s and the impact of the discounters such as Aldi and Lidl, or M & S and the threat of cheaper clothes from the likes of Primark and changing tastes in consumers behaviour. The list goes on.

Now while we don’t have the luxury of numerous employees or specialists to help us, the good news is we don’t need them!

We don’t want to overcomplicate matters – there’s no need and it doesn’t help. Nobody understands our business better than we do.

So let’s use the ‘big’ business tool of the SWOT to help us really understand our business. It is an excellent and well proven tool that if used correctly, will make a difference.

And it cost’s nothing.

A SWOT analysis is an objective assessment of your business’ Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.

Using this tool you can assess your business in an easy and simple way, and then actively do something on each of these.

The analysis must be objective – in other words impartial and unbiased, not influenced by personal feelings or opinions, but just the facts. This sounds easy and obvious, but can be difficult in practice. After all we are intimately involved with our business and have probably put everything ‘on the line’ to get to where we are, so it will be very hard to remain impartial.

But you must try and if you always look for evidence to back up your claim or statement, it will help you be honest and objective.

So for instance the statement “We’re strong at customer service” is only true if your customers say so. And even then, strong in what way?

When you complete the SWOT you end up very quickly with an action plan so you can

Play to those Strengths Improve your Weaknesses

Seize your Opportunities and turning them into profits, and also

Minimise the Threats before they come to harm you

And they’re normally laid out in a square, like this, so you put all the

Strengths – the attributes of your business that will help it grow, in the first box Weaknesses – the attributes of your business that will stop it growing, in the next box

The third quadrant has your Opportunities – external conditions that will help your business to grow

And the last quadrant is where you put your Threats – external conditions that could damage your business.

Each module starts with two relatively open questions which You Must Answer!

You then hit Save.

You will be emailed the rest of the module, which is in a Word compatible format .rtf and a link to a Google Doc, which will allow you to edit online.

This document contains the rest of the module, to include everything we know about the subject, links, examples, and of course further key questions for you to answer as well.

Being your document on your PC or in the cloud, you can save at any stage and go back to at any time too. In fact, this is probably the best way to tackle this work.

So let’s start this module by answering these key questions:

 

This document contains the rest of the module, including everything we know about the subject, links, examples, and of course further key questions for you to answer as well.

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