Jennifer Barber

SWOT Analysis

This is a strategy that is normally applied to products, services, and business structures. But how does a SWOT Analysis apply to us individually?  Everything seems to boil down to being a matter of perspective, and how we perceive each situation.  So, it definitely stands to say that we could incorporate a business strategy to our personal lives as well.

This is an analysis technique I learned while I was in college attending FIDM (the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising) located in Los Angeles. As an Apparel Manufacturing Management major, I learned the groundwork for everything from A to Z in owning your own clothing line or business.  And I quickly learned that this analysis could be applied to so many areas of my life! Not just business solutions, but by applying the same concept- I could effectively offer myself a better outcome through strategic thinking.  To give you a better idea of what this analysis entails see below!

Simply broken down SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

  • Strengths are Internal factors:
    • These are items that you excel at. It can be something you are consistent with, or even something your industry wide recognized for!
  • Weaknesses are also Internal factors:
    • This would be an area that you could use the most improvement on. Maybe something you wish you performed better at, or was more consistent at in performing.
  • Opportunities are External factors:
    • A good opportunity will help you create and effective game plan for improving your product/brand. The goal is to look for areas maybe affecting your situation from the outside, and change how those are personally affecting you.  This will help you change the “status quo” into your favor.
  • Threats are External factors as well:
    • A threat isn’t necessarily something that “threatens” you. This would be something that could just simply affect you or your mindset.  Such as: Being around negative people, would affect your mindset and mood.  It can also be something that is causing you to look at changing the core of your foundation or business.

The idea is that you can apply this concept to any situation or problem.  It’s a way to analyze where you stand, where the opportunities are, and how you can overcome them through implementing small, strategic changes.

So, let’s start at the beginning- Choosing what you would like to analyze!

What would you like to improve? Is it an aspect of your business? An opportunity in your personal life?  Whatever it may be, we can apply this analysis strategy to it!

Next, we will start with Strengths- Here are some great questions to ask yourself:  What made this business successful in the first place?  What advantage does the company have?  What does the company do better than its competitors?  What unique selling propositions are associated with the brand?  Answering these questions will help you gain a good understanding of your top strengths!

Then, we move to Weaknesses- Again, these are not things to be taken as a negative, but items that will become opportunities for you and your company!  Consider these questions to help:  What aspects of the business could the company improve on?  What should the company avoid?  What factors are causing the company to lose money?  Once you have been able to answer these questions, you will have a good understanding of the direction you would like to head.

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Once you have completed the Internal factors section, we can then move forward to the External factors that are affecting your business or brand.

Opportunities are favorable situations and factors that can strengthen the competitive advantage and help provide new sources of competitive advantage for the business.  This is where you’re able to get creative with what can grow. Here are a few good questions to ask: What interesting trends are in the market that could be explored?  What are the demographic and social changes that present new opportunities?  Are there any opportunities outside of the industry?

The last section to asses will be Threats and this is THE most important aspect.  They are broken down into two groups: company specific and industry & economy, both of which will help you solve for any potential threats to your brand or company.  Some questions to ask that will help you identify these: What are the main obstacles faced by the company? What are the latest developments in the industry regarding your competitors?  Does the company have a substantial amount of bad debt or cash flow problems?  Asking these hard questions will allow you to take a real look at what the best opportunities are moving forward.

After going through each of these steps, you will have a good understanding of what you will need to create a healthy strategy that will gain the rewards you are seeking.  The idea of this analysis is to allow you to hone in on the main components that will help you create a marketing strategy to implement. 

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