SWOT, How To Use It Properly

SWOT AnalysisSWOT Analysis

SWOT. Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats. SWOT is one of the most commonly used business models. It is also one of the most mis-used business models.

The following guide is aimed at making SWOT a more useful tool for your business.

We also include a short video if you would rather watch than read. Click to the video here or watch below.

Understand What SWOT Is

SWOT is about bringing out issues, not addressing them. Remember that a successful business will have more weaknesses than strengths. This is because after they have identified weaknesses they start to address them.

Your business does have weaknesses.

SWOT can be used as your business overall, on departmental basis, or even at a staff level. It can be useful to do on all organisation levels, up to you.

How To Use SWOT

Start by listing your strengths and weaknesses. List them only. Do not address, mitigate or try and work around them. If you spend 15 minutes listing your strengths then spend 45 on your weaknesses.

Another approach is to get someone else to list these for you. This takes bravery, but can be an interesting exercise.

One you have your strengths and weaknesses listed then move onto the opportunities and threats. There is a marked difference here.

Again, this is about listing issues not addressing anything.

Take you strengths then think about your opportunities and threats. Take your weaknesses and think about your threats and opportunities.

This can be a challenging process to fully understand. So have a look at this example and see if it helps;

A local independent sandwich shop is doing a SWOT. In their strengths they list ‘loyal customers’ and ‘good product that customers love’. In their weaknesses they list ‘small marketing budget’ and ‘less resources than rivals’.

Bear in mind that they compete with supermarket meal deals, national chains and with people simply eating what they make at home.

From their strengths and weaknesses they listed threats as ‘customers have loads of choice’ and ‘increased marketing from national chains will hit our sales’. From the same they list opportunities as ‘new customer loyalty scheme’ and ‘do more with our customers to get them to recommend us to friends’.

With this they have looked at their strengths and weaknesses then seen what they can do.

After you have your SWOT you can look to build on what you have in your opportunities and threats. This is where your business plan comes in. SWOT should come before your business plan, it is separate, not part of as many planners would have you think.

For this business, their business plan went on to develop the issues in the SWOT. They planned to do –

  • Get staff to ask their customers to recommend them at every sale
  • Introduce a stamped loyalty card
  • Offer deliveries and samples to local offices where their customers work
  • Buy an A-Board to go outside the shop
  • Stop trying to compete on local advertising with the national chains
  • Consider offering a ‘meal’ package

These all came from doing a SWOT. From this you can see where simply getting the issues out generates solutions.

The SWOT Video

This short 90 second guide to SWOT covers some of the above areas in brief, please watch the video. Hope it helps.


Use our SWOT template, download by clicking here – SWOT. If you want any help in getting the solutions in place then get in touch.

Please have a look at the SWOT, then add your comments above, or contact us directly.

By Lime Consultancy

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