Winning tip for successful SWOT!In The Little Book of Big Management Theories, McGrath and Bates note that most SWOT analyses are next to useless because people forget that a strength is only a strength if it provides a competitive advantage, and a weakness is only a weakness if it causes a competitive disadvantage. For example, having a great product is only a strength if it really is better than the competition, and having a newly trained team is only a weakness if it means you are more likely to lose out to your competitor(s).
Questions to help identify your Strengths
- What are our unique strengths? For example, most HR teams are qualified and experienced what is unique about us?
- What makes us stand out against the competition?
- What would our competitors say we are good at?
- What do our customers like best about us/our product?
Questions to help find your Weaknesses
- What does our competition do better?
- Why do we lose against [competitors name]?
- What do our competitors do that we don’t? What do our competitors have that we don’t?
- What do our customers like least about us? What is the biggest complaint?
Examples of Threats
- bad debt
- disruptive competition or technology
- distribution problems
- economic issues
- industrial action
- industrial espionage
- security issues (IT or location)
- key staff leave business
- mergers of competitors
- natural disasters or adverse environmental conditions
- new market entrants
- pricing actions by competitors
- regulations and legislation
- social and demographic factors impact customer tastes or habits
- supply chain issues
- war and civil unrest
Examples of Opportunities
- competitor failure/closure
- divestments (selling subsidiary assets, investments, or divisions)
- new investment
- new markets
- new technologies
- political, economic, regulatory and trade developments
- product upgrades, new products
Download the Excel SWOT template
Excel download - SWOT analysis template (.xlsx)
Excel download - SWOT analysis template (.xls)
OpenDocument Spreadsheet - SWOT analysis template (.ods)
References and further readingJames McGrath and Bob Bates. Second edition, 2017. The Little Book of Big Management Theories: and how to use them. Pearson Business: Harlow.
Jeremy Kourdi. 2015. The Big 100 - The 100 Business tools you need to succeed. John Murray Learning: London.
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