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SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats)

Philip Selznick (1957) introduced the idea of matching the organization’s internal factors with external environmental circumstances. This core idea was developed into what we now call SWOT analysis.   The diagram provides a SWOT analysis template.

The SWOT analysis contains the following sections. 

  • Strengths are typically internal characteristics of your business that give it an advantage over your competitors.  These are typically things like your assets, your people, your value proposition, and your competitive advantages.  Any of these examples could potentially be weaknesses for your particular business rather than strengths.
  • Weaknesses are typically internal characteristics of your business that place you at a disadvantage to your competitors.  These are typically things like financial aspects, credibility/reputation, your people, IT systems, or business processes. Any of these examples could potentially be strengths for your particular business rather than weaknesses.
  • Opportunities are external market dynamics that present the opportunity to increase sales, profits, and/or take market share.  This could include entering a market where there is weak competition, high growth, creating new partnerships, developing new products, or enhancing marketing plans.
  • Threats are are external market dynamics that may present risk to the existing or future business.  These risks may be outside of your control.  Mitigation plans should be created for these threats.   Examples of these threats may include legal, economic conditions, competitive pricing or new competitors, or loss of key partners or contracts.

The SWOT analysis is easily conducted with brainstorming sessions with key leadership and personnel.  The SWOT analysis should be revisited as you go through developing the Business Strategy to ensure that as you are thinking about the future of your business you leverage strengths, capitalize on opportunities, address weaknesses, and to the extent you can, safeguard against threats.

The SWOT template above and others can be found in standard PowerPoint templates or there are many other available templates and samples available at locations like: 

Business Strategy Sample

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