Carrying out a SWOT analysis - checklist

Carrying out a SWOT analysis - checklistA SWOT analysis means looking at your business' strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, so that you can capitalise on what you do well and understand where you might be at a disadvantage.

  • Involve employees from all the key areas of your business in your SWOT analysis (SWOT: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats).
  • Consider involving key customers, suppliers or other sympathetic outsiders who know your market and can provide an objective view.
  • Ask participants to collect and review information on internal resources and external factors affecting the business.
  • Arrange a brainstorming session to identify your firm's strengths and weaknesses and the opportunities and threats facing it.
  • Decide whether you have the skills and objectivity to chair the session yourself, or if you should use an external facilitator.
  • Create an open and honest atmosphere; avoid judging or disagreeing with suggestions; try to draw out weaknesses and threats.
  • Review internal operations such as finances, marketing, management and personnel, production to identify strengths and weaknesses.
  • Review external organisations (eg competitors, customers and suppliers) and the business environment and market to identify opportunities and threats.
  • When there are no further suggestions, discuss the ideas that have been raised; agree the key strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
  • Identify any additional information you need to confirm your analysis; if necessary, carry out further market research.
  • Assess the significance of your SWOT analysis; identify areas where you have a competitive advantage (or disadvantage).
  • Create and execute an action plan to tackle weaknesses, capitalise on strengths and opportunities and deal with threats.
  • Use the analysis and action plan as a review tool before important decisions, so that your decisions fit what your analysis suggests.