S.W.O.T. is short for “Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats”. A S.W.O.T. analysis is designed to help a business see if they are truly aligned with the world around it. If completed correctly, the analysis should provide you with information that will help in making decisions.
Additionally, when beginning your lists, be sure that your strengths and weaknesses are confined to the internal operation of your business only, and that the opportunities and threats are externally focused.
Steps for conducting a S.W.O.T. analysis:
1. Brainstorm lists of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
2. Take each category laundry-list and reduce them to the top 5 to 10 in each category.
3. Review each category separately and discuss each of these ideas and the potential implications to the organization.
4. Look at the internal strengths and weaknesses of your business and see how they relate to the opportunities and threats external to your organization.
5. Finally, look at:
Those factors that represent both strengths of the organization and opportunities in the external environment. This represents a potential area for growth.
Those factors that represent weaknesses of the organization and threats in the external environment. This represents an area that needs to be addressed.
Although this approach may prove difficult to get a handle on in the beginning, once mastered, it provides great insight and benefit to your organization in making decisions about its future.