How to Conduct a SWOT Analysis in 8 Steps - Custom Scholars
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How to Conduct a SWOT Analysis in 8 Steps

Any SWOT analysis template contains four sections, presented in a two-by-two matrix:

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  • Strengths – your inherent qualities, resources, or skills that set you apart from the rest;
  • Weaknesses – whatever is or may be stopping you or the business from performing well;
  • Opportunities – external factors that you can use to your advantage to become more competitive;
  • Threats – external factors that may harm your performance in the short or long run.

SWOT analyses are simple to do, which is why they are so popular. However, this might be a false initial impression.

A proper SWOT analysis might take many hours and should entail a group brainstorming session. It should also be as objective as possible, which might be more difficult than it appears.


So, how do you use a SWOT analysis – and get a quality result for your strategic decision-making process? Here’s your step-by-step SWOT analysis example that you can use as a guide.

1. Determine Your Goal

Starting a brainstorming session without a purpose means entering the SWOT analysis blind. In the long term, your SWOT matrix will be worthless – or deceptive. Depending on your purpose, the same aspect might be a crucial strength or an inconsequential remark. For example, if your marketing effort aims to attract the 18-25 demographic, your active presence on TikTok will be a huge benefit. However, if you’re looking for a strategy to attract more quality prospects throughout the recruiting process, TikTok’s presence will only benefit you a bit. So, decide what you want to accomplish with this SWOT analysis. This might be a decision you or the firm must make, such as whether to introduce a specific product line. Your purpose might be be to tackle a specific problem or to develop/revise your approach.

2. Do Your Research

If you searched ‘What is a SWOT analysis?’ your research would be incomplete. During your brainstorming session, you’ll require a lot of data. You will avoid guessing your company’s or your own strengths or external risks connected to your aim if you have it.


Your research should consist of two parts:

  • Internal research. You’ll need every piece of information on your or the company’s performance to pinpoint the internal factors in SWOT analysis. That can include financial, sales, marketing, and other reports with key metrics.
  • External research. Gather the data on your competitors, the market, the company’s position and market share, and the industry as a whole. This data will be the basis for assessing your opportunities and threats.

There’s one footnote, though. Depending on the goal, you’ll need different data sets. So, focus on relevant data.

3. Pinpoint Your or Your Organization’s Strengths

It’s now time for some thinking. If you’re doing a SWOT analysis for a company, go ahead and do it: invite the proper individuals to the table, virtual or otherwise. It will assist you in obtaining a more objective, realistic, and full matrix.

Begin with internal elements, namely your internal strengths: these are always easier to pinpoint.

Need a SWOT analysis example of a company’s strengths? Here are five of them:

  • Outstanding customer service with a high satisfaction rate;
  • Strong financial performance;
  • The first-mover advantage;
  • Positive brand attributes;
  • Strong technical expertise in the field.


5 Questions to Ask

Here are five questions to get you started and help you find your company’s – or your individual – strengths:

  • What do you or the company do well?
  • What are your strongest assets?
  • Is there something only you or the company do?
  • What is your competitive edge?
  • What do customers appreciate about the company?

4. Zero in on Your or Your Company’s Weaknesses

It’s now time to move on to the more challenging aspect of evaluating your internal factors: your deficiencies. Examine your or the company’s performance and identify what may be improved. Try not to exaggerate the truth here!

Keep in mind that certain vulnerabilities can be eliminated, while others can only be mitigated.

Looking for weak SWOT analysis examples for students who run their businesses? Here are five of them:

  • Poor brand recognition among the target audience;
  • Suboptimal employee productivity;
  • Limited resources, human or otherwise;
  • Lack of intellectual property for key technologies;
  • Long delivery times.

5 Questions to Ask

To explore your personal or business weaknesses, ask the following five questions:

  • What do your competitors beat you at?
  • What do customers complain about?
  • What is holding back your or the company’s success?
  • What resources do you or the company lack?
  • What are the gaps in your internal business processes?


5. Identify External Opportunities

Before you can capitalize on opportunities, you must first identify them in your SWOT analysis and choose which ones are worth pursuing.

You’ll need to refer back to your external environment for this. Then, examine the data to see which patterns or occurrences you might capitalize on.

Need a SWOT analysis example or two here? Take a look at these three business opportunities:

  • New markets emerging within the industry;
  • New advertising channels rising to prominence;
  • Particular customer needs that remain underserved.

4 Questions to Ask

If you don’t know how to start zeroing in on opportunities, start with these four questions:

  • Are there ways to gain useful resources you don’t have or have little of?
  • Are there any technological advancements that can help you mitigate your weaknesses?
  • Are there any new or overlooked opportunities that you can exploit?
  • How can the current economy or market trends be of use to you?

6. Home in on Potential Threats

It is now time to proceed to the final component of a normal SWOT analysis: threats. These external trends and events may or may not get in your way.

If you’re working on a personal SWOT analysis, threats can include:

  • High competition for the job you’re after;
  • Potential layoffs due to a financial crisis.

If you’re conducting one for a large company or a small business, negative external factors can include:

  • New emerging competitors, direct or indirect;
  • New regulations that can entail considerable additional costs for the business;
  • Unfavorable investment climate.

3 Questions to Ask

If you need a push in the right direction, here are three questions to help you zero in on the threats:

  • Who are your competitors, and what is their market position?
  • What is the state of the economy, industry, and market? Are they in decline?
  • Are there any new regulations that can harm the business?

7. Review Your SWOT Analysis Matrix

Any college essay writer will tell you that conducting a good SWOT analysis immediately following brainstorming is impossible. You must go through each component you’ve included and change the list. Leave just the parts that are actually important – and make them more detailed if necessary.

3 Things to Pay Attention to

There are some common caveats that you can overlook if you need to be more careful during this step. Here are three of them to avoid:

  • Factors that aren’t specific enough – clarify or cross them out;
  • Factors that aren’t evidence-based – find proof or get rid of them;
  • Factors that are over- or underestimated – have a fresh pair of eyes to look at the list.

8. Decide on the Solution

Your job does not end once you have completed and edited your SWOT analysis template. Now you must take your SWOT matrix and use your findings to solve your major issue.

4 Questions to Pose

Here are four questions to guide you in your solution-seeking:

  • How can you maximize your strengths? Which ones should be the top priority to boost?
  • How can you mitigate or eliminate your weaknesses? Which ones should be taken care of first?
  • Which opportunities should you take advantage of? Which ones will pay off the most?
  • Which threats can do the most harm? How can you limit their impact?


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