Yes, you read right, “SWOT” the competition, not “swat” the competition. You don’t want to physically hurt them. You just want to have an advantage over them; who wouldn’t want an advantage? Think about a time when you played a game that required forethought or strategy. Was it easier to play against someone you didn’t know or someone you knew well? I would think the latter. When you play against someone you know, you begin to anticipate how they will play and what their next move will be, based on how they think or even how they played in the past. You cannot do that with an opponent you know nothing about and, if you add to the mix an unfamiliar set of rules, both will put you at a serious disadvantage.
Conducting a SWOT analysis will give you the framework to set your business up for a win. Regardless of the industry, there is a vast pool of businesses that offer similar products, services or programs to your business. So, how can you stand out in your field? How can you begin to differentiate your business from the others? Those are great questions. Strategy is key for positioning the company in the best place to capture the greatest market share possible. Having clear organizational goals, understanding how the competitors are playing and accepting the demands of the marketplace creates a recipe for success. Here is how.
It begins with understanding the internal and external factors that impact whether or not the business will achieve its objectives. That is where a SWOT analysis can be useful. SWOT is an acronym that stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. It is used as a planning tool to determine whether or not a company, product or person will have favorable or unfavorable positioning in the marketplace. Draw a box that has four quadrants. The top two quadrants focus on the internal factors, which are the strengths and weaknesses of the company. The bottom two quadrants focus on the external factors, which are the opportunities and threats of the company.
Now, think about what the company wants to achieve over the next few months. Choose an objective that you would like to explore. As you work through the top two quadrants, consider factors that are relevant to the specific objective, because what might be considered an internal strength for one objective could possibly be a weakness for the others. Examples of internal strengths or weaknesses could be staffing, knowledge, certifications, product, pricing, etc. Below are some thoughts to consider.
- Are there competitive advantages?
- Does the company have viable resources?
- What are the company’s current capabilities?
- What are the company’s vulnerabilities?
- Are there internal processes that need improving?
- Lack of knowledge?
In the lower two quadrants, take a moment to vet opportunities that will allow you to reach the said objective and threats that could impact achieving it. Here are some thoughts to consider.
- What are the customers need?
- Are there untapped niches in the market?
- Where is the competitor weak?
- New entrants into the market?
- Demands in the market?
- Societal or government factors?
Completing a SWOT analysis around specific objectives is the start of an effective strategy to move your organization forward. Like playing a game with a worthy opponent, it is important to consider factors that may impact whether your business will be successful. Ensuring a strong connection between the company’s strengths and opportunities could solidify that the objective may be a viable option for a sustainable strategy. However, if there is a stronger relationship between the weaknesses and the threats, it could be a warning that your business requires more planning and a cautious approach. Set your company up for success. Complete a SWOT analysis and gain a competitive edge over the competition.
Angela Garmon, with ARG Coaching & Consulting Group, works with leaders who are overwhelmed and frustrated with changes in their organizations. These leaders want to bring their teams together and produce results.