Want to grow your small business, but not sure how?
A SWOT analysis can help you choose the right direction for your company.
SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats; examining these four elements will provide an overview of the health of your business. Your strengths and opportunities offer avenues for growth, while your weaknesses and threats present warning signs meant not to deter you, but to inspire improvement.
You probably completed a SWOT analysis as a part of your initial business plan, to help determine your place in the market and focus your ideal customers and offerings. Now that your business is established, it’s time to do a new SWOT analysis to determine growth opportunities.
How SWOT analysis can illuminate paths for business growth
The SCORE SWOT analysis worksheet is a free download to help you think about strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in six categories: product/service offering; brand/marketing; staff/HR; finance; operation/management; and market.
Your responses in each category can help you refine short- and long-term goals for your growing business and determine the action steps to help you reach those goals.
Growth opportunities may not always make themselves known as a grand change such as launching a new product line or expanding your number of locations. Growth for your business might mean hiring a part-time staffer to help with marketing tasks, or purchasing a new piece of equipment that will help you fill orders faster. In many cases, simply refining trouble spots may offer the greatest opportunity to growth. If you see an opportunity to streamline the way you create or deliver your products or services, doing so won’t just make your life easier -- it’ll make your customers happy, too.
Don’t think of your SWOT analysis like a re-brand or a remodel for your business. Think of it as checking the route on a map.
Cross-check your SWOT results with external circumstances
You’ll also be able to compare the results of your SWOT analysis with external factors that could affect your business. If you need capital to grow, what is the lending environment like? Could other economic factors, like the housing market, inflation, or interest rates hinder or help your growth?
You might feel excited about your goals and want to work toward them immediately, but in some cases, waiting a few months or years to implement parts of your growth plan can offer stability. Your SCORE mentor can help you determine the best approach.
To learn more about how a SWOT analysis can help your business grow, join our webinar on October 8. John Harmon, a mentor with the Fairfield, Connecticut SCORE chapter, will discuss how to perform a SWOT analysis and how doing so can benefit your business. Click here to register.