SWOT Analysis: Assessing Strengths and Weaknesses

Here’s a look at assessing the first two items when conducting a thorough review of your company’s operations

SWOT Analysis: Assessing Strengths and Weaknesses

In my previous article, I explored the SWOT analysis grid, a widely used business tool that helps entrepreneurs make big decisions in an informed, analytical way.

If you read the first part of this article series, then you know that SWOT is all about taking a careful inventory of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, using these simple data points to view a decision from all angles.

But what does it look like, in actual practice, for a business owner to use the SWOT paradigm? Let’s start off with some guidelines for analyzing strengths and weaknesses. In a follow-up article, we’ll turn our attention to opportunities and threats.

Assessing the strengths of your business

When it comes to the S in your SWOT analysis, the goal is to focus on those things that are positive and internal to your company. These are the good things about your organization, including tangible and intangible strengths. Crucially, the strengths you list should all be things that are within your control. (External factors, or positive forces and trends that are beyond your control, are counted as opportunities.)

When thinking about the strengths of your business, some key questions to ask include:

  • What does your business do well? Where are the areas where your team really excels? In what ways do you meet or exceed all of your competitors?
  • What are the internal resources that your company boasts? These resources may include positive attributes of your employees, such as unique skills, education, training, credentialing, connections and reputation. They may also include tangible assets that your company possesses. Think capital, credit, an existing customer base, technology, equipment, etc.
  • Compare yourself with local competitors. Are there any areas where you see yourself having a distinct advantage?
  • Is there anything about your culture that provides a competitive edge; for example, do you have high team morale, or high customer service standards? 

These are the kinds of questions you can ask to ascertain the strengths of your business — any of which might be leveraged in a new business opportunity or key decision.

Counting your weaknesses 

Taking stock of your weaknesses certainly isn’t as fun; nevertheless, it is an important step toward clear-eyed decision-making. 

Weaknesses are any internal negative factors that impact your business. These are the areas where you need to make some improvements in order to be more competitive within your field.

Some questions to prompt your weakness analysis: 

  • What are some factors that are within your control that make it more challenging for you to compete or to serve customers in an optimal way?
  • What are some of the areas where you or your team could improve in order to reach your business goals?
  • What are some things your business lacks that you wish you had; for example, a certain kind of equipment, or expertise in a particular field.
  • Are there any downsides to your business location?
  • Are there ways in which you feel like your business has constrained resources?

These questions may be a little uncomfortable, but again, they’re crucial for making an honest assessment of where your business stands.

Of course, these questions only tell you part of the story of your business. In the next installment, I’ll provide some insights into analyzing opportunities and threats.

About the author 
Amanda E. Clark is the president and editor-in-chief of Grammar Chic, a full-service professional writing company. She is a published ghostwriter and editor, and she's currently under contract with literary agencies in Malibu, California and Dublin. Since founding Grammar Chic in 2008, Clark, along with her team of skilled professional writers, has offered expertise to clients in the creative, business and academic fields. The company accepts a wide range of projects; often engages in content and social media marketing; and drafts resumes, press releases, web content, marketing materials and ghostwritten creative pieces. Contact Clark at www.grammarchic.net.


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