With the summer winding down and fall just around the corner, you’re probably starting to start looking back on the year that’s passed and looking forward into 2015.  It’s market and business planning time!  In today’s article, I wanted to share a powerful way to do the tried and true SWOT analysis.

How many times have you been to a market planning or business planning session and done a SWOT analysis?  You know the old Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats exercise.  If you’re rolling your eyes, I hear you.  One of the peeves I have about this exercise is that it’s a free-for-all list of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats that a business team perceives at that moment.  What frustrates me is that it turns into a bitching session and doesn’t really come from any kind of context that is useful.  elements-of-a-swot-analysis

Years ago, while I was on a corporate project with a friend, he shared this outline with me and I have to say that it blew me away!  I’ve been using it ever since, and I’m sharing it with you today.

Why this is the BEST SWOT analysis outline — EVER

I’ve already mentioned that it has CONTEXT.  The way this context is created is by having each element of the SWOT analysis grounded in answering questions that are grounded in reality and in the experiences that your business has had over the last year.

Instead of just listing a bunch of stuff, you are answering questions that will actually give you insights into the next appropriate action to take inside your business.

This isn’t the complete set of questions — but it will certainly get you started in thinking about new ways that you can grow your company.

 

Strengths Analysis

  • In what areas does (YOUR COMPANY) perform exceptionally?
  • What important bids or proposals did (YOUR COMPANY) win this year? Why did (YOUR COMPANY) win them?
  • Which target markets or customer groups created the most sales? Which created the most profits?
  • What did (YOUR COMPANY) do best this year? What were (YOUR COMPANY) greatest triumphs?
  • Which customers or market segments grew the most? What caused this “success”?

Weakness Analysis

  • What important bids or proposals did (YOUR COMPANY) loose this year? Why did (YOUR COMPANY) loose them?
  • Which target markets or customer groups created the least sales? Which created the least profits?
  • What were (YOUR COMPANY) greatest disappointments or failures?
  • Which customers or market segments achieved the least? What caused this “failure”?
  • Weaknesses with respect to: Target market needs, wants & consumption trends

Opportunities Analysis

  • What new customer wants can you meet?
  • What economic trends are benefiting?  How can you take advantage of them?
  • What technological factors are creating opportunities for you? How can you profit from them?
  • What niches and opportunities have your competitors missed?
  • What alternatives does your ideal customer have to purchasing what you have to offer?
  • What major changes are taking place in the industry?
  • What are some things that “would never happen” in your industry? How can that become an opportunity for you?

Threats Analysis

  • Are there technological factors creating threats?
  • In what ways do your competitors threaten you?
  • What scares you most about the future of (YOUR COMPANY)?
  • Are major changes taking place in the industry?
  • Is the government increasing the burden of any previous regulations?