To create strategy with SWOT analysis there are only four steps which need to be done:
ANALYSIS: Think and identify features, group them into four categories: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats.
SELECTION: Select the most valuable and important features from each category.
EVALUATION: Prioritize features, by assigning importance factor to each of them.
RELATION: Identify existing relations between categories to identify impact of each feature to final strategy.
Today we will focus on first step - Analysis.
This step is essential to the success of whole analysis. Here we need to be honest, open, creative, but also realistic. If it is possible, try to involve additional people in analysis for a brainstorming session (e.g. drawn from across the business or friends that know you well). Consider each of the four SWOT areas in turn, and write down all ideas, suggestions and comments. Here are some example questions which might help you fill out categories:
- In which areas you do well?
- What are positive factors that make you different from your competitors?
- What advantages do you have over your competitors?
- What distinguishes your company from others?
- What kind of assets do you have, which are helpful?
- What kind of processes you execute well?
- Do you have products, which build your competitive advantage?
- What positive things others, customers says about your business?
- High income and positive cash flow (high ROI)
- Prepaid model paying for products, no expenses for vindication
- Good relationship with customers, loyal clients
- Small company can change and adapt quickly
- Can you do anything better?
- What should be avoided?
- What areas of your business need to be improved?
- If you could change one thing about your business, what would it be?
- What causes problems or complaints?
- Are there some financial limitations, which can stop you?
- Bad internal communications
- Lack of willing for change in organization
- Lack of connections that might help at the beginning
- Lack of experience in running company
- Where are the good opportunities in front of you?
- What are the interesting trends you are aware of?
- What alternatives are available to you?
- Is there a customer base for you to target?
- Is your business environment friendly?
- Possibility to expand on external markets
- Possible new distribution areas (less costs, more available clients)
- Changes in government policy or regulations / legislation
- Lack of this kind of product in market
- What obstacles face your business?
- What are your competitors doing, which may become a threat?
- Are there any changes in products, services or technology which could threaten your business?
- Are there potential legal acts ahead, which may harm your business?
- Do you have any financial problems such as bad debt or cash-flow difficulties?
- Client would reverse from company, because of slow improve the quality of service
- Existing product becoming unfashionable or unpopular
- Existing competition
- Downturn in economy may mean people are spending less
Take your time and work methodically through the process – this approach will produce the best results in the end. Use SWOT analysis as a guide, but remember that it can be very subjective. Be aware that two different viewpoints may result in different perceptions of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. You can always come back to your SWOT and modify it as environment and external factors changes. And the last but not least, facilitate whole process with intuitive tool, that guides you through analysis: CayenneApps Tool.