Knowing what's SWOT - a Simple Introduction to SWOT Analysis



Conducting a SWOT analysis of your business is a practical means of obtaining baseline information regarding the factors both internal and external which may either hinder or facilitate prosperity. The beauty of SWOT as an analytical tool is that it is very simple in concept and use, yet provides extremely valuable insights which can be used as the basis for a robust business strategy.


Business owners, leaders and managers wishing to learn more about the benefits of SWOT and its partner analytical tool PESTLE are well advised to attend 'Strategic Analysis using SWOT and PESTLE' from business skills training experts Maguire Training. This practical course will explain in-depth how SWOT and PESTLE analyses work, their application and how delegates can effectively apply these methodologies to their own businesses.


For those new to the concept, here Maguire Training provides a simple introduction to SWOT analysis, its uses and benefits.


What does SWOT stand for?

The acronym SWOT is derived from the four key factors which can affect the operation and success of any business. They are:

S trengths

W eaknesses

O pportunities and

T hreats


An organisation's Strengths and Weaknesses are classed as 'internal' factors and within the control of the business.


Strengths are those aspects which might be considered to give a business competitive advantage within its industry sector and might include, for example, a trusted brand, a strong reputation among customers, high-quality proprietary products or services and global presence.


Weaknesses, meanwhile, might include a limited distribution network, high operational costs, restricted production capabilities or high staff turnover.

Opportunities and Threats are categorised as 'external' factors e.g. changes in the business environment which have not been influenced by the organisation.

Opportunities for a business might include the emergence of more cost-effective production methods, the discovery of an untapped market, or the relaxation of previously restrictive legislation.

Threats encompass such aspects as the establishment of a new competitor, the unforeseeable loss or closure of a key supplier, a non-beneficial change in legislation or a general decline in consumer demand for a particular type of product.


Who benefits from SWOT analysis?

Both start-ups and established businesses can benefit from SWOT analysis. As mentioned, a brand new company can build an informed business strategy upon the findings of its analysis, whilst existing businesses can use the methodology periodically to monitor and maintain their position in an ever-changing marketplace.


How is SWOT analysis conducted?

Whilst there are accepted formats for performing SWOT analysis a rudimentary application of the methodology can be undertaken simply by canvassing people most closely associated with the business on their opinions of its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and by listing and categorising the responses.

A good cross-section of people should be questioned including customers, suppliers, employees, directors and senior management, investors and partners as each will have their own views and perspective.


What should I do with the results?

Once the internal and external factors which impact your business have be identified and documented, the factors in each category should be prioritised in order of importance and addressed 'in simple terms' as follows:

Strengths should be enhanced, promoted and built upon, weaknesses should be addressed and either improved or eliminated where possible. Opportunities should be seized and capitalised upon where practicable, whilst contingencies to deal with emerging threats should be formulated.


I'd like to use SWOT analysis with my business. How do I learn more?

Everything you need to know about performing SWOT and PESTLE analysis for business is provided by Maguire Training's comprehensive 'Strategic Analysis using SWOT and PESTLE' course which, for the convenience of delegates, is offered both as a classroom-based session and as online training easily accessed via Maguire Training's versatile mobile and E-learning platform.

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