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SWOT Analysis

Provided by the International Finance Corporation

For your business to thrive, it is important to have a clear strategy in place, but sometimes it is hard to know where to start. Conducting an analysis of your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats may be a very helpful tool to get your business on track. This is called a SWOT analysis.

SWOT analysis is a simple, yet a very valuable technique developed to help companies look at their internal and external issues, and identify available opportunities or overcome existing obstacles to achieve a certain objective.

Conducting your SWOT analysis may be time-consuming. You should take a good look at each of the four parts of the analysis and ask realistic and demanding questions to get a good grasp of where you stand in relation to them. You will realize that your strengths and weaknesses are internal to your organization, whereas opportunities and threats are related to external forces. This is why SWOT analysis is often referred to as Internal-External analysis.



Strengths are usually all the positive qualities within your organization that may be related to either the resources available to you or, in general, all the things that make you strategically advantageous. Start looking at your strengths by asking some relevant questions, such as: How does your company stand out among its competitors? What do you do better than others? What strengths do others see in your company? Do the people who work for you add to your strength (education, expertise, etc.)?


Your weaknesses may often be things you can turn around and improve in order to become competitive. Your physical location may be a disadvantage to your business, as well as limited resources, lack of expertise or technology. Think about what you can do to improve your situation. Look for answers to questions like: What makes your sales struggle? What do others consider your weakness? What areas of your business can you improve to reach your strategic goals? With the right approach, you can turn your weaknesses into your strengths.


As mentioned above, opportunities are the external elements that could potentially provide possibilities to advance your business. Take time to carefully consider what opportunities are available to you. These may be emerging trends in your market, a grant you can apply for, advances in technology or lifestyle changes, etc. Evaluate the changes in the marketplace systematically to identify new opportunities for your business. Be vigilant and take action when an opportunity presents itself before your competitor does.


Threats are generally above your control and may cause instability in your business. For example, your competitors and how they maneuver in the marketplace may be a potential threat to your company. Other factors like bad weather, changes in government regulations, economy, or your clients buying behavior could also pose threats to your business. Ask yourself, do your weaknesses reveal you to any threats? Is your competition doing anything that should worry you?

It often seems that there is not much you can do to prevent these external factors from harming your business, but being proactive and watching for potential threats can prepare you to tackle them as they arise.  

Maximizing your strengths and opportunities and minimizing the weaknesses and threats that your organization is faced with will allow your business to become more competitive. Additionally, as you complete conducting your SWOT analysis, you will have a solid foundation for crafting your company’s strategic plan.


SWOT Analysis Template

To create your company’s SWOT analysis, have a look at the questions in our SWOT Analysis Template. Simply answer the questions for each of the areas outlined in the template. Feel free to adopt the questions as they apply to your business circumstances. 

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Anthony Taylor  |  January 25, 2017
Thanks for sharing. The SWOT is a great first step in your strategic planning process. We cover our favorite strategic planning frameworks at:
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SWOT analysis  |  October 26, 2016
Nice article. You can also collaborate online with a whole team on a SWOT Analysis. is a tool for that.