Time to SWOT Up!
Performing a SWOT analysis can seem like a challenging task at first, but just like with anything else, it will get easier with more practice. Indeed, performing a SWOT analysis on your business can be a great way to assess your company to define a new strategy for it.
Once a SWOT analysis is complete, you will have to write a SWOT analysis paper, a document that will summarise all your findings. This paper is exactly what you need to use to improve your strategy and, in turn, your business. Hence, here’s how to perform a SWOT analysis and write a SWOT analysis paper.
What is a SWOT Analysis?
SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. All four of these components are essential to understanding how SWOT analysis should be performed and how its findings can then help you improve the different aspects of your business. A SWOT analysis can be done at different levels, so you could be performing a personal SWOT analysis, a SWOT analysis of a company or one of its departments, and so on.
As the name suggests, Strengths are the positive sides of your company. For example, you could be performing a SWOT analysis of your email marketing strategy and you might discover that one of your biggest strengths in it is email design. This could be true if all of your emails correspond to your brand image visually and don’t have any design elements that could distract readers from the text in your emails.
By understanding your Strengths, you learn more about the resources, skills, and expertise in your possession that you can use strategically to your advantage. If you are good at something, you must be using it to its fullest extent to get the most out of it. The way your Strengths are related to one another and to the other three elements can also determine the way you use these Strengths.
Weaknesses are the opposite of Strengths. These are the negative sides of your company. For example, when performing a SWOT analysis of your customer service strategy, you could discover that chatbots on your website are programmed incorrectly and can’t provide proper assistance to customers in need. This would make your chatbots one of your Weaknesses.
Though it may seem that your Weaknesses are pretty much useless, the contrary is true. Knowing your Weaknesses helps you realize what needs improvement and development. Moreover, it allows you to prevent potential issues that could arise from these Weaknesses (e.g. poor working conditions could lead to a high employee turnover rate).
More often than not, you don’t even have to actively seek to improve one or some of your Weaknesses. Simply because you can compensate for it with your Strengths. For instance, if your Weakness is that your product prices are higher than your competitors’. Then you don’t necessarily have to decrease your prices. Instead, you can justify them or make up for them by offering other perks to your customers such as special discounts or free delivery.
Opportunities are not the same as Strengths, but the two can work very closely together. Theyare external things that could aid you such as trends in your industry that you can take advantage of or a partnership with another company that you could profit from. Introducing a new product or appointing a new executive could also be seen as an Opportunity.
However, you need to be very careful when considering yours. These are not clear-cut positive sides of your business (or the situation your company is in). Something that could be seen as an Opportunity could potentially have a negative side and could turn into a Weakness. For example, you might follow a trend and introduce a new product that ends up failing and losing you money.
Threats in SWOT analysis are similar to Opportunities, but they could rather be described as their negative equivalent. Anything related to your competitors could likely be considered a Threat (unless you are planning to partner with or merge your business with your competitor).
Just like with S, W and O, threats can be hidden. This is why it is so important that you pay special attention to analyzing potential Threats – you never know where they may come from or how they could affect your business. And that is why you need to be prepared for them.
Usually, Strengths and Weaknesses are considered internal factors which means you have more control over them and can work to improve them. Threats, on the other hand, are external factors that you don’t have as much control over. Yet, they can significantly affect your business.
Why is SWOT Analysis Important?
The importance of SWOT analysis is undeniable, but it’s still worth discussing how exactly it can be useful for you. Your customers could be leaving stellar reviews about your business and your products, yet your sales could be going down. You could be considered an authority in your niche, yet your competitors could be always ahead of you. Such situations can be explained and changed with the help of SWOT analysis because:
- It is better than a simple pros and cons list. SWOT takes into account four different factors, both internal and external. This gives you a complete overview of what’s inside and outside of your business.
- It allows you to use what you already have. SWOT shows you how the different elements within your business interact and how they are influenced by factors from the outside. Once you know these things, you are able to create a strategy that utilizes all four factors to their fullest without having to seek additional resources.
- It opens doors for you. SWOT can help you develop your business and even expand it more than you expected. Moreover, this can happen in different ways (e.g. more talented employees, increased sales, bigger market share, more partnerships and sponsorships).
As you can see, a SWOT analysis is not just a simple tool but rather a very advanced one. When used correctly, it could completely change your business strategy, priorities, goals, and expectations. This is exactly why it is so popular among entrepreneurs and business owners of companies of all sizes.
How to do a SWOT Analysis?
The good news is that to perform a SWOT analysis, you can follow a step-by-step plan that is most commonly used in such cases. That being said, the results you get will depend entirely on how much attention you pay to detail and how much you value quality in your findings. Here’s how to do a SWOT analysis in a few steps:
As mentioned earlier, you can perform a SWOT analysis at different levels. Which means you can apply it to your entire business or you can choose to focus on one of its aspects. For instance, you may want to analyze your digital marketing department. Or even narrow down your focus even further to analyze just your PPC ad marketing strategy. Once you decide which level you will be working at, you can define your objectives. For example, you can perform a SWOT analysis to change your entire business strategy, introduce a new product, decide whether you want to partner with a particular company, and so on.
You already have a direction you want to be moving on, so now you have to actually do the job. If you decided to focus on your PPC ad marketing strategy, then you need to research current trends in this topic. Assess your own strategy, check what your competitors are doing, and so on. The more information you collect, the more detailed and accurate your findings will turn out to be. Remember that a SWOT analysis is also meant to help you discover the information you didn’t know about (e.g. hidden threats) which is why proper research is essential.
List SWOT Factors
Upon completing your research, you can start listing your four elements. At the end of this article, you will find some SWOT analysis templates that will help you visualize the four factors. Moreover, some of these templates have guiding questions that will guide you in the process. And prevent you from focusing on the wrong things.
Now that you have your SWOT factors listed, you can analyze them. It’s a good idea to establish which of your findings are more important to you and why. In other words, prioritize some points over others. This will help you get a better sense of direction when it comes to the final stage of your SWOT analysis. On the other hand, you should still make sure to take everything into account. If you ignore a crucial element (e.g. a potential threat or a minor strength), your SWOT analysis will not be as effective.
Create a SWOT analysis paper based on your findings and think of your further strategy. If you wanted to solve a particular problem with the help of the SWOT analysis, make a plan on how you will solve it. In this final stage, you need to actively use your findings in practice. After all, that’s exactly why you performed the SWOT analysis in the first place.
What Should a Good SWOT Analysis Paper Have?
One way to write a good SWOT analysis paper is to find best writers. Then have them create the paper for you. But if you decided to do everything yourself, you can still craft a great paper based on the SWOT findings you already have. There are some elements that every good SWOT analysis paper must have, including:
To situate your SWOT analysis, you will need to have a background of relevant information which will depend on the level of your analysis. For instance, when analyzing a potential partnership, you will need to provide an overview of the industry, your competitors, your potential partner, and your own company. In fact, you might have to perform a SWOT analysis of your potential partner as well. On the other hand, when analyzing your sales department, you will need to provide an overview mainly of your own company and its different departments.
The framework is the set of rules or methods you will be using (or you have used already) to perform the SWOT analysis. It also includes the goals and objectives you have set for the SWOT analysis. Defining your framework is necessary to establish the structure of your analysis and the form in which it will then be presented in your paper. In other words, it is a way to organize your actions and then your findings.
Obviously, all of the four factors of SWOT should be included. You don’t need to go into too much detail describing each point. But you should still make sure to list all of your findings. If you are performing a SWOT analysis of multiple things (e.g. your company and your potential partner), then you will need to list the SWOT factors for all things you are analyzing.
The last part of your paper is either your conclusions or your proposed solutions. This part can include anything you feel necessary or appropriate. For example, you can define your new business strategy here based on your SWOT analysis. You can propose strategies for converting Weaknesses into Strengths or for neutralizing Threats. You can define different growth techniques.
SWOT Analysis Paper Examples
Last but not least, the best way to understand how a SWOT analysis paper should be written and what it should look like in the end is by consulting existing SWOT analysis paper examples:
These two papers will give you a good idea about what a SWOT analysis paper can look like. Notice that neither of them is too long or goes into too much detail about each strength, weakness, opportunity, or threat. This is because a SWOT analysis paper is first and foremost a summarisation of your findings. This means it is a simplified version of your SWOT analysis results.
In addition to the four elements of SWOT, these papers also discuss the companies themselves, McDonald’s and BMW respectively. This is a good way to situate your SWOT analysis, so to say. The paper on BMW even discusses the automobile industry briefly to provide even a better picture of the role BMW has in its industry.
For the SWOT analysis itself, you can also use existing SWOT matrixes or SWOT analysis templates. Here are just some examples of these:
Most of these templates, matrixes, and charts are not very different from each other. They are meant to provide you with a visual framework for your SWOT analysis. Something that will help you better schematize your process and findings. You can even create your own template of such kind to suit your brand image visually.
To summarise, performing a SWOT analysis on your business is by far one of the best ways to analyze your company and its abilities. The paper you produce as a result will allow you to better define your strategy for the future. And start utilizing your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to your benefit.
The tips in this article will help you to perform your own SWOT analysis successfully. Then organise your findings in a comprehensive SWOT analysis paper. Use these techniques and provided examples to guide you in your endeavour.