By Lisa Pustelak, NWIRC, Strategic Planning & Culture Development Specialist
Whether you do formal strategic planning or not, it is time to re-visit the SWOT. A SWOT Analysis is a review of your company’s Strengths and Weaknesses (these are internal things you can control) and the Opportunities and Threats (these are external things you can’t control). If you have done a SWOT in the past, say before the pandemic started, chances are many of those items have changed since the last time you looked at it. Most of us would never have had COVID-19 or a pandemic listed as a threat to our business, yet it has wreaked havoc for most businesses and some have emerged even stronger. If you have never done a SWOT, now is the time. There are many benefits to this exercise and I highly recommend you engage your entire team. Now, more than ever, we need to look at things from all perspectives. This also gives your team a voice and helps them be part of a solution regardless of where your business stands at any point, including challenging times.
To conduct a SWOT, brainstorm and write down everything you can think of for each category, one at a time. Then ask yourself questions such as: How can we best utilize our strengths? What is the biggest weakness holding us back and what can we do about it right now? What opportunities exist that we can pursue? What are the immediate threats we need to address? Another benefit is taking a good look at where you are right now. Strengths you had last year may not be the same now. You have new strengths that have appeared during the pandemic. The same applies to all the categories. Taking an in-depth look at where you stand right now will help you look at your business differently, and help you make decisions on how to move forward.
The SWOT Analysis can be used as a tool to get you out of survival mode and back on track to reaching your goals for the company. Chances are that track has changed significantly, however; it does not mean your goal has to change. Journalist Po Bronson said, “Allow for many paths to your goal. Do not fixate on one path, because then you are likely to give up when that path is blocked.” While many of our paths have been blocked during the past couple years, there are other ways to get there, a SWOT Analysis can help you find the next path.
Side Note: Lisa Pustelak will facilitate ‘Pancakes & Planning’, a fun and engaging morning workshop to get started on a new (or enhanced) strategic plan. These workshops are scheduled throughout the region next month: Erie (Aug 9), Clark (Aug 17), and DuBois (Aug 23). The program will strengthen your understanding and underscore the value of strategic planning and explore the framework and tools for
the planning process. Find more info at www.nwirc.org/events.