A few weeks ago we let you know what a SWOT analysis was in general and why it’s important. Last week we talked about the first half of your SWOT, the internals. This week we’re going to tackle the externals of your analysis; opportunities and threats.
The reason these are considered external is because they’re things that are beyond the control of you and your business. They’re most affected by current events in politics and economics. As well as by spending patterns that have to do with trends. Externals are real things you have to take as they come because we rarely know what will happen next in the world and how it’ll affect people’s spending. Your externals are just as important as your internals but in a different way.
What may represent opportunities with respect to one objective may be threats (outside influences) for another objective so it’s important to know you’re objective before you set out to do your analysis.
Your opportunities are the things going on in your market that just happen to give you a competitive edge. For example, maybe you’ve been doing workshops since your business’s inception but were looking for a way to scale. COVID hitting is an opportunity because now workshops in person aren’t so feasible. It’s the best time to record and start online workshops instead. Here are some questions you can ask yourself:
- What changes are going on in the world today ?
- What are the current ongoing trends ?
- Will these trends affect me in a positive manner ?
- Can I take advantage of the local market ?
- Can I provide a missing link for customers ?
- Can anything about the weather give me a competitive edge ?
Your threats, to reiterate, are totally out of your control. These are things that are going to prevent you from making the most use out of your assets or resources. To keep with the same example, if you don’t have the ability to record yourself to make the online workshops and you don’t have the funds to hire it out, COVID would be a threat to you instead of an opportunity. Here are a few more questions to ask yourself about that too:
- What are the negative aspects of the current market ?
- Are there obstacles facing my current mission ?
- Are any new government regulations going to affect me ?
- What are the chances of a natural disaster affecting my product ?
- Is there any instability in my nation right now ?
What’s after externals ?
Now that you have the tools to complete an entire analysis you can reassess what you’re doing and better figure out where you want to go. For example, should you turn your weaknesses into strengths or should you switch gears to play off your strengths in a more efficient way ? Can any opportunities I see easily turn into a threat ?
The more clear and honest you are about the tough questions, the more reliable and valuable your analysis will be. Don’t forget that things change. Make it a rule to assess your business in this way at least twice a year.
But wait ! there’s more
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