1. Put a team together
When conducting a company-wide SWOT analysis, you'll need a diverse team from different areas of the business for a comprehensive overview of the business. For example, you'll need a representative from HR, operations, marketing, and so on. Every department should have a voice in the SWOT to give you a clear picture of your business.
2. Set a goal for your SWOT analysis
Every SWOT analysis needs a clear goal. Why are you conducting a SWOT in the first place? For example, you can aim to learn more about your business or decide if you should merge with another business. Remember, SWOTs should be done before you make any major decisions regarding your business, so any opportunity you have may require a thorough analysis.
3. Make a list of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats
Internal factors are the company's strengths and weaknesses. Identifying those will be easiest. When identifying strengths, consider what you're doing well, including your strongest assets and areas where you excel. For example, a marketing agency might excel at branding. For your weaknesses, you'll need to consider the aspects of the business where you fall short. For example, you can list products that don't sell well or areas of the business that detract from your goals, such as high employee turnover.
Your opportunities and threats may be more difficult to distinguish because you don't think about them daily. Consider things happening outside your company that are just as important as your strengths and weaknesses because they affect you. For example, changes to customer demand, access to materials, and your competitors getting more funding could affect your business even though they're not happening directly to you or as a result of something you've done.
When considering your opportunities, you'll need to think about things that can help improve your business. For example, if you have access to an investor, an opportunity could be to secure more funding. When considering your threats, you should look at your competition and factors beyond your control. For example, a threat to a Christmas tree business would be seasonality.
4. Refine, organize, and prioritize the ideas in each category
Once you've identified the internal and external factors of your SWOT analysis, you can start refining and organizing the ideas in each category on your template. Prioritize what's most important to you, the items on your list that you'd want to tackle first. However, you should also consider items that can be done easily instead of putting them off to form an action plan for more important business initiatives.
5. Create an action plan to address SWOT analysis priorities
After prioritizing your SWOT findings, you can start to brainstorm action plans to align your business goals with your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Take each item out of the SWOT and begin creating strategies.
For example, if you're trying to decide whether you need to hire more employees, you can look at weaknesses, such as high employee turnover, and try to find a way to reduce your turnover rate through effective HR strategies.
When you're done with your SWOT analysis and have a strategy in place to address priorities, you can revisit your analysis on a quarterly, monthly, or bi-annual basis to determine whether or not you're hitting your goals.
SWOT analysis template
Need help creating your SWOT analysis? We've created this template to help you identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Simply fill in the blanks, and you'll have a complete analysis in no time.