The more you know, the better decisions you can make—this is critical for small businesses. Using your company’s strengths and weaknesses to evaluate opportunities and threats (otherwise known as a SWOT analysis) paves the way for true strategic decision making.

We know. It sounds boring and complicated. It’s neither. A SWOT analysis acts very much like a health check-up that diagnoses the internal and external positive and negative factors affecting your company. The process can be as formal or informal as you like, but the key is to take an honest approach (and it might hurt a little) and include all aspects of your business.

A quick online search will provide hundreds of examples and approaches, but keep the following things in mind:

  • You may not be the nonbiased lead this process needs; consider a manager, a trusted non-company representative or a paid outside facilitator.
  • Involve all employees. Start with a company brainstorm to go through strengths (e.g., cash flow, employees or location) and weaknesses (e.g., mediocre online presence, languishing customer base or lack of capital)—be sure to empower an open and honest discussion. Otherwise, what’s the point?
  • This isn’t a one-time deal. Plan to revisit on a regular basis to account for internal and external changes.

Awareness is great, but it won’t do you any good without action. Complement each SWOT analysis with a comprehensive action plan that lays out how to exploit your company’s strengths and curtail weaknesses.

Lloyd Priddle
Lloyd has had a very successful career as an accountant, director and author for almost 40 years. Holding post-graduate qualifications in Business, Lloyd has specialised in Business Development, and worked with the Queensland Government and local councils on numerous occasions through association with AusIndustry and the SBAS Natural Disaster Assistance Program. He is also board member of a number of commercial and not-for-profit entities.