How to use a SWOT analysis

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SWOT analysis, or also known as SWOT matrix, is a structured planning method that evaluates the potential of a new product or business venture. The SWOT analysis is based on a determination of the possible and likely risks and rewards. It evaluates the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (hence, the name) associated with the launching of a new product or business.  Created by Albert S Humphrey in 1960s, the SWOT analysis can provide helpful insight into the potential of any business venture. The SWOT analysis can be carried out for any industry, product or even person to determine the success and the likely risks. It involves specifying the objective of the business venture or the product and identifying the factors that can affect it – internal and external.  The main benefit is that it helps you find and create a sustainable niche in your market by evaluating your strengths and weaknesses, and addressing the potential threats and opportunities to guarantee long-term success. It can also help you uncover weaknesses that would otherwise go unnoticed, and by understanding them you can eliminate any future threats to your business or product.

The SWOT analysis begin by collecting the information that you will subsequently use. After you carry out the analysis, you can interpret that information and base your decision on it. Generally, the SWOT analysis is divided into two parts: internal and external. Internal analysis involves reflecting on the strengths and weaknesses of your product or business venture.

  • Strengths are, in general, internal and controllable, which means that you can work on them in order to improve your product chance of success. The strengths include resources, competitive advantages, access to skill, and any other positive aspects.
  • Weaknesses, on the other hand, are still internal, but they might affect your success in a negative way. Factors such as limited expertise, lack of resources, or limited access to skills or technology might impede your ability to meet your objectives.
  • Opportunities and threats are external factors, which means that they affect your situation but not the other way around. Opportunities can help your project develop, if seized in time, so it’s important to identify them early on. Also think about the timing – is there a limited window of opportunity or is it going to “wait” for you?
  • Threats are these external factors that place your product or project at risk – such as competition, increase of prices by your suppliers, increased government regulation, etc. These are rarely subject to control but identifying them can help you deal with them before they arise.

Anyone, who is directly responsible for the situation can carry out the SWOT analysis. The timing is not of a huge importance, as carrying it out can be helpful at any stage. Usually, it is good to conduct the SWOT analysis before you launch your product to explore the possibilities and identify solutions to likely problems. Carrying it out on time can also help you make a decision about which path to take in order to guarantee yourself successful outcomes.  Moreover, the SWOT analysis will help you determine if and where a change is possible and necessary, and will help you identify your priorities and weak aspects. You can also conduct the analysis mid-way in order to adjust your product to the current situation and market. This is especially helpful if a new opportunity arises unexpectedly or a threat suddenly closes paths you considered available.

Therefore, SWOT analysis is a key step, related to the planning and the successful outcome of your product. Before you launch your product or start your business venture, the SWOT analysis can lead you towards the best way to achieve your goals and meet your objectives. By combining the information from the analysis of the business environment, the SWOT analysis will show your business’ weaknesses and strengths. Knowing your weaknesses, for instance, can be incredibly helpful and provide your company with valuable insight. It can also help you improve your future operations and avoid certain mistakes or threats.  Most importantly, the SWOT analysis help you discover new opportunities. Seeking these out is an essential part of every successful business and it’s closely related to business growth. Carrying out a SWOT analysis on your new product can, for instance, help you find new potential customer groups or expand your product distribution, as well as help you caret new product categories.

Finally, SWOT analysis can also be carried out on your competitors. This is especially helpful, if you’re a startup or if you’re launching your first product. Performing the SWOT analysis on your key competitors will help you decide on how to position yourself in your industry. You can also use it to attack your competition’s weaknesses and improve your business’ strengths.

In summary, carrying out a SWOT analysis is simple to do and very practical. The information can be gathered easily and the results are clear and easy to understand. You need to focus on the important external and internal factors that will determine the success of your product and use them to identify your future goals. By identifying your weaknesses, you can be prepared to deal with any potential threats or misfortunes. This analysis leads to business awareness and is key to any successful business plan. If you have set your eyes on success, especially with a new or innovative product, the SWOT analysis can provide you with essential information on how to improve yourself. Evaluate your business from every angle in the most straightforward way you could possibly think of and embrace the SWOT analysis in order to succeed.

 

Photo credit: Simon Cunningham

One comment

  • You have shared many relevant and informative points. I was knowing about most of them but there are some points which are new for me and have helped me to grab some great information.
    Thanks for sharing.

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