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First of all, what is a SWOT analysis?
A SWOT analysis identifies internal STRENGTHS and WEAKNESSES and external OPPORTUNITIES and THREATS.
Essentially, this makes a SWOT analysis a glorified pros and cons list, but for your business.
Whether you own your own business or simply work in a business setting, it is important to know how to identify areas of improvement and areas that have been mastered. By narrowing your focus you allow possible problems to come to the surface and recognize the tools the business already has to solve them.
A SWOT analysis is a important part of creating an integrated marketing plan, or any decent business plan for that matter. The best part about creating a SWOT analysis is that it can be fine tuned to meet the needs of the business. This means it can be as broad or narrow as needed.
Being able to bring a SWOT analysis alive by getting it on paper can be a daunting task, especially for large or very complex businesses. A SWOT analysis can be completed in these four simple steps:
1. Create four boxes to brainstorm SWOT data.
This can be done on paper or on the computer, it is up to the creator which they prefer to use in these early stages. You will want to label these sections as strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Keep in mind that these four variables can apply to the business practices, the employees, the brand, the companies placement in the marketplace, it could even be narrowed to cover only a certain department or sector of business. From here, you brainstorm as many things as you can. Typically the verbiage used in a SWOT analysis are one or two word adjectives (For example: debt, customer loyalty, popularity, stagnant income), but it can truly be anything. In a SWOT analysis, there are no wrong answers!
2. Elaborate on all four sections.
For this step you will need to do a bit more detailed writing rather than just brainstorming adjectives. You will want to write one to two paragraphs on each of the four sections. Essentially, it is to provide more detail and potentially measurable data to back up the one-word list you created before. For example, say that one of your listed strengths is "high profits." In this section, you would want to elaborate on the profits with details. How much have profits increased over time? How high are your profits in comparison to other businesses in the same market? In what ways can available funds be used to help improve business functions? Elaborating on strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats can be as broad and detailed as you make it.
3. Write a thesis on how to properly address weaknesses and threats.
Now that you have highlighted the basics of the business and where there are areas of needed improvement, you can now brainstorm on how to actually address these issues. Due to the fact that each business is going to have a unique set of weaknesses and threats, this section can be truly anything, so long as it provides a probable solution to the problem. You want to answer the question of, "What can be done about the weaknesses and threats?"
4. Edit and finalize.
This step essentially just takes all you have created up to this point and puts it on the computer or finalized on paper. Symmetry is key to a good looking SWOT analysis, you can create a box with four sections easily with Microsoft Word or even with the simple Paint application found on all computers. If you are in need of assistance on how to make a chart in Microsoft Word, you may follow this link for further instruction.
Now that you have created your SWOT analysis, you can bring the idea to life for your own business or present it to the company you work for and allow them to put it into action!
By organizing areas of strength and opportunity and areas of improvement, it allows one to create a full-fledged marketing plan that addresses all potential issues that serve as a roadblock to company goals.