Chamber News & Views April 5, 2018

Published on: April 4, 2018

Chamber News & Views

By LYNNE CONLAN

Executive Director, Sun City Center Area Chamber of Commerce

I first heard of SWOT analysis at our chamber planning meeting in February, and to be honest, I’m not sure how I missed this valuable tool throughout my career.

I’ve been to thousands of planning meetings and used just as many tools to help streamline the brainstorming and planning process. But SWOT analysis is one tool I’m truly sorry I missed. It’s an extremely useful tool for helping you in your business and can also help with your personal goals. 

SWOT is the acronym for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The analysis helps you focus on your strengths, identify your weaknesses, minimize any threats and take the best possible advantage of available opportunities. In a business context, it helps you find your niche in the marketplace.

Used in a personal context, it assists you in the development of your career in a way that takes advantage of your abilities, talents and opportunities. 

Created in the 1960s, SWOT analysis is as useful now as it was then. Strengths and weaknesses are usually internal to your organization.  Opportunities and threats generally relate to external factors. When using SWOT analysis, you’re forced to look inside your organization as well as outside factors to determine your best path forward. 

To get started, just take a piece of paper and divide it into the four SWOT components.  Strengths should include advantages your business has and what you do better than anyone else. This is the section of the planning process that should include what’s unique about you and your products or services.  

When looking at your strengths, you must also think about them in relation to your competition. If all your competitors consider low pricing as a strength, then your low price point is not a strength; it’s a necessity and should not be included under this category.

Now we’ve come to your weaknesses. Painful but necessary. You need to include what you could improve and the practices you might avoid. As painful as enumerating your weaknesses can be, it’s better to be realistic now than face any unpleasant truths unexpectedly in the future. 

Opportunities are the brainstorming component of this procedure. This section includes future opportunities or trends you can spot. Take new developments in technology or government policy related to your field into account. For organizations like the chamber, changes in social patterns, population fluctuation and lifestyle changes are important here, as well. Often when looking at opportunities, you should look back at your strengths and ask whether they open any opportunities. 

Threats include what obstacles you face and what your competition is doing. Most importantly, it’s your chance to determine if any of your weaknesses seriously threaten your business model. 

A SWOT analysis helped the chamber plot its strategies for the year. Just one problem I encountered. Spell check kept turning SWOT into SWAT, so I kept waiting for the guys in black to show up at our meeting, guns blazing to find out what we were up to for the year. If they had shown up, they’d have uncovered the poorly kept secret that our Spring Trade Show is next Thursday, April 12, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Sun City Center Community Hall. We’ll see you then… hopefully without any interference from SWAT.

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