When was the last time you did a SWOT Analysis?

SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Wikipedia defines it as: "…specifying the objective of the business venture or project
and identifying the internal and external factors that are favorable
and unfavorable to achieving that objective."

I've facilitated a lot of SWOT Analyses for both corporations and associations in my 24 years of consulting, but almost all were done as part of a bigger strategic planning process.

This is all well and good if you regularly go through such an exercise, but most organizations don't. Like most strategic plans, the SWOT was a "good exercise to go through," but tends to be quickly forgotten and even discarded.

If you ask me (and since you're reading this blog, I assume you are), I think it's a very good idea to go through a SWOT Analysis, or at the very least an Asset Evaluation (AE), at least once a year. And with the economy the way it is right now, this is the perfect time to go through the exercise. Consider:

  • It allows you to see exactly what your big pluses (and minuses) are. Sometimes we forget we have certain assets ("We start answering the phone at 7:30 am.") that may help separate us from the competition in difficult times.
  • It shows you exactly and honestly how you compare to the competition. Got too much in common? Now's the time to find out.
  • Getting a clear picture of your assets can also stimulate creative thinking. Are there new services you can spin off? Are there sub-niches within your industry you could be serving? Are there entirely different markets that could use your products or services?
  • If you include customers in a SWOT discussion, they can lead you in directions you may not have considered. They may even see areas where you can help each other, creating stronger partnerships.

If it's been more than a year since your organization went through a SWOT or AE, now is a good time to do one. Yes, it takes some time, but in fighting through this downturn you need all the assets you can find.