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The Importance of a Good SWOT!

‘Tis the season not only for holiday shopping, and gathering with family and friends, but it is also a good time to engage in a SWOT analysis for your business.

The end of the year is a great time to check in with important aspects of your business. By doing a SWOT analysis with your partner, team and/or leaders, you can both better gauge where your business is currently at, as well as have it inform your planning for 2022.

Not familiar with SWOT, or think it’s just for bigger businesses? Think again. A SWOT analysis is great for any size business. Let’s dive into what it is and then discuss why it matters.

S- stands for STRENGTHS- This is about identifying both your personal and professional strengths along with the collective strengths of your leadership and /or staff. Answer these questions: What as an organization are we doing well? What strengths can we identify in our processes and systems? Our policies? Our culture? What strengths do we see collectively in our people? Do we have a plan in place to build on those individual and collective strengths?

W- Stands for WEAKNESSES- Since we all have them both personally and professionally, better that we identify them so that we can learn to manage them. What are the weaknesses of leadership? Of performance? Of policies, procedures and systems? Of the culture? Also, take the time to identify your weaknesses as a leader/ owner. Now is a great time to ask for a 360 review of all staff who interact with you. What do you need to know about how they experience you? If you have kept the environment psychologically safe, they will tell you. If all you get back are glowing reviews of who you are and how you show up, ask your people to rate you again, only this time honestly.

O- Stands for OPPORTUNITIES – These are opportunities that your business is either already considering, as well as opportunities that you can see further down the road. Is there an opportunity to increase sales by adding new products or services? Is there increased opportunity by adding “go the extra mile” customer service? This is a great time to meet with leaders and / or frontline staff and brainstorm based on what they see the opportunities are in your company to capture more market share, improve your company culture or become more sustainable and /or profitable. Be sure to record / write all ideas and comments down.

T- stands for THREATS - Every company has them so best to identify yours. Are there whispers of a competitor moving into your neighborhood? Is your second in line disgruntled and looking to take your proprietary information elsewhere? Threats are an inherent reality for business owners, so rather than taking the head in the sand approach, brainstorm your real and perceived threats, and pick the brains of those in your organization to glean their perspectives as well. What should we be concerned and talking about?

Looking at your company or organization through a SWOT lens is a smart way to identify strengths you can build on, manage weaknesses before they hurt your business, consider possibilities of real opportunities that you can capitalize on, and get ahead of anything that could be a threat to your sustainability or profitability.

Many companies I’ve coached have moved away from the annual SWOT analysis into a quarterly one. That way you are dealing with this information in real time rather than thinking the circumstances and conditions from 6 months ago still apply now.

Additionally, find ways to make a SWOT analysis both fun and meaningful by incorporating it into an all staff meeting or a leadership retreat. Find balance and play by offering other activities, team building opportunities, as well as creating a safe environment for healthy debates during the SWOT analysis. Combining work and play makes for a better more engaging company culture. Doing a SWOT analysis ought to be fun, not something that feels like a dreaded root canal.

Need some help in conducting your first SWOT and /or not sure how to incorporate it into a retreat? Reach out to a competent business coach or consultant who can help you navigate the SWOT analysis waters so you can make the most out of this opportunity.

And now you have your first entry under the “opportunities” category. Let that propel you into a continuation of an important exercise that also serves to engage your people. A SWOT analysis also informs your strategic planning so that your business can hum along with an eye towards helping both people and your business thrive in the coming year.

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