How to Use a SWOT Analysis for Your Business

When companies want to develop a mission statement, refocus their efforts, or set strategic plans, one of the greatest tools they can use is the SWOT analysis. SWOT is an acronym for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. By examining those four big-picture aspects of your business, you will paint an honest and cohesive picture of where your company stands and have a great jumping-off point for the next steps to grow. If the leadership team of your workplace does this together, they can craft simple motivating goals and targets to share with the full staff, presenting a unified vision and strategy.

Recognize Your Strengths

Begin on a positive note. Grab a whiteboard or large paper easel and brainstorm what your company is good at. For industry leaders, the list may be quite large. For companies lagging behind the competition, it may take a while, but the goal of the SWOT analysis is, to be honest. It only takes two or three strengths to build a strategy. You have them; find and recognize them!

Acknowledge Your Weaknesses

Depending on the state of your company, this may be the most painful part of the swot analysis, or it may be the most fruitful. Honestly, pinpoint areas where you could improve, but always steer the conversation back to positivity, reminding contributors that the reason behind the exercise is to grow. Be careful not to let it devolve into an open airing of complaints. If it does, however, you can slide into the next step quite easily.

Identify Opportunities

There are two ways to look at opportunities. The most obvious is to look at your industry and identify if there is something you could be doing that none of your competitors are. That sounds great, but innovation is rarely easy. On the other hand, you could take your weaknesses and challenge the team to see them all as opportunities for growth. This is where the brainstorming portion of a SWOT analysis can really take off!

Address Threats

Look at your strengths and opportunities. Evaluate your position; if a competitor wanted to muscle into either of them, could they do it easily? If so, that’s a threat that needs to be noted. If not, pat yourself on the back; you’re on solid ground.


After you’ve honestly evaluated these elements, only your leadership team can decide what the next step will be. With the information you’ve examined and discussed, you will be much better equipped to develop or refine your strategy.

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