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When Is The Best Time to Perform a SWOT Analysis?

by Michael O'Mara, on May 12, 2022 2:39:54 PM

You want to own and grow a successful business. In order to do that, you need to be efficient and see both the big picture and the finer details with an objective eye. There’s plenty of ways to do that, but arguably one of the most effective tools strategists can use is the SWOT analysis. 

A SWOT analysis is an informed, research-driven process that helps you grow your business smarter. It’s an acronym for Strengths. Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Think of it as a compass. A SWOT can be your true north as you decide the next steps for expansion, optimization, or pivoting. 

That idea sounds pretty simple. But depending on the scope of your SWOT, it can become a rather daunting strategic planning process for the most important parts of your company, like marketing, sales, service, and operations. 

 Informed, objective insight. That’s what a SWOT can give you. In this blog, we’ll break down each section of a SWOT analysis, discuss the best time to conduct one, and how Sauce Marketing uses the SWOT in our proprietary strategy service for clients, the Recipe for Success.

Strengths 

The strengths section of your SWOT is all about what’s good right now. What’s happening within your business that not only makes you stand out from the competition but is good for your customers? 

This can be a subjective process, but it’s best to be as objective as possible. When Sauce conducts a SWOT analysis, we audit our client’s digital and physical presence using a templatized, agile checklist. Even if the strategist is different, that detailed checklist ensures our clients can expect an objective and clear point of view in their strategy work. 

Let’s break down an example of strength in a SWOT. Say your social media channels are performing really well. Customers like interacting with your content and you’re capturing warm leads from that organic content. First off, go you! That’s harder than it seems. Second, while a productive social media presence is a strength, knowing why it’s productive is the true strength behind it. Is it because of your design work? Is your content relatable? Do you have a dedicated staff member who is responsible for creating content and engaging with audiences? Any one of those is a strength of social media that uncovers the root of why it’s going well. 

Weaknesses

This one can be tough, but it’s necessary to assess your weaknesses. This is where a strategic partner can really come in handy. We know how hard it is to be objective about your company’s weaknesses, especially when you’re already working so hard to improve. It’s easy to gloss over glaring issues that are causing problems for your team or costing you revenue. 

This isn’t about being negative or critical. It’s about forming a constructive perspective on what you can do better. 

Take a good, hard look at the state of your business. What products, services, processes—or people—don’t make the cut? This is the same exact process as identifying strengths, just less fun. Once you’ve identified a weakness, it’s up to you or your strategist to uncover the root cause so that you can develop a solution.

Opportunities 

Whether it’s “go big or go home” or “slow and steady wins the race,” the opportunity section of your SWOT is focused on growth. Opportunities SWOT are identified in four key ways:

  1. What are your competitors doing well? Can you do it better?
  2. What data-driven metrics do you hope to achieve? How will your current strengths help you get there?
  3. Is there a completely new and exciting opportunity uncovered as you strategize? 
  4. Is there a small but productive tweak that can change the business in a big way?

 The opportunity section of a SWOT is dependent on an objective assessment of your strengths, a constructive breakdown of your weakness, and a comprehensive overview of your competitors. That’s how you uncover engaging and productive opportunities and reduce the weaknesses affecting your business.

Whether it’s “go big or go home” or “slow and steady wins the race,” the opportunity section of your SWOT is focused on growth. Opportunities SWOT are identified in four key ways:

Threats

Worriers unite. As a business owner, you have a lot to think about. Sometimes, the threats to the growth and success of your business can really affect you! Even if you’re successful, you likely have a strong list of threats in your head. After all, few know your business better than  you.

Objectivity is important across the entire SWOT, but this is where it can get even murkier. Is what you perceive as a threat actually a threat at all? It’s a difficult question to ask, and it’s why this section is so important. 

A great way to uncover threats is to ask your team in a safe, productive way. For some, that’s closed and open-ended anonymous surveys. For others, it’s a collaborative meeting. At Sauce, we ask our clients about the threats they perceive and cross-reference them with the threats both data and our own internal process uncover. Some examples of threats include: 

  • Changes to industry best practices 
  • Shifts in customer expectations and values 
  • Direct competitors impacting foot traffic and leads 
  • New, emerging technology that diminishes your product or service value 
  • Economic impact 

Once you have identified threats, it’s time to divide and conquer one by one. That process can be quite challenging, but truly knowing what threatens the success of your business is far more valuable and useful than assuming you know those threats. Or worse, actively ignoring them.

When is the best time to perform a SWOT analysis?

A SWOT analysis is a big task. So, if your company is planning something big, make a SWOT analysis part of that planning process. It’s the right tool for the job.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking you know best or everything there is to know about your business. You know more than most, but that still leaves room for personal and business growth you might not see. A SWOT analysis covers those blind spots. Instead of seeing part of the picture in front of you, a SWOT helps you see the entirety of it. 

Key tip: when done right, a SWOT is a collaborative, team-oriented process. Gathering as much feedback and perspectives different from your own is as essential as turning a profit.

Analyze with Sauce Marketing!

We mentioned it a few times in this blog: SWOTs are what we do. Part of every onboarding and strategy process with our new clients is a dedicated SWOT analysis. This is the information that you need to get back on track and Grow Smarter. Our dedicated strategy team is here to help you understand what you’ve done right, what you can do better, what’s on the horizon, and how you’ll get there. 


Schedule a call with a certified Growth Guide today to learn more about the Recipe for Success.

Topics:Strategy