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2 Common Uses for SWOT Analysis

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SWOT analysis is a highly effective strategic tool. It’s useful to businesses, stakeholders, and individuals.

Did you know you can use it to stand out or better yourself? These are two common (and interesting) ways to use SWOT analysis to your advantage.

1. Identifying your competitive advantage

It’s not optional: You must have and know your advantage.

A competitive advantage sets businesses apart from the competition. It’s (one of) the reasons competitors buy from them instead of others. It’s conveyed in mission statements, marketing, and operations.

Some companies have it easier when it comes to identifying their competitive advantage. Perhaps they built the company because the competition didn’t offer what they want. Their business solves a problem and how they solve it is their advantage.

Other companies aren’t as lucky. They may build a product to jump on the bandwagon of a growing industry. They know what they want to do, but their product is virtually the same as any other. If they’re smart, they’ll sit down and discover their uniqueness. And if they’re smarter, they’ll use SWOT analysis to do it.

The first half of SWOT analysis is especially critical. You’d use it to determine what your company does well (strengths) and what they don’t (weaknesses). Obviously, weaknesses won’t contribute to a competitive edge, so it makes it easy to weed out what you don’t do well.

Making a list of strengths can help you see what your advantage is. Or more so, you can see what you’re doing well to transform it into a competitive advantage. Once you narrow down the list and make a selection, you can do the second half of the analysis to identify opportunities and threats that could negatively affect the businesses success.

2. To learn more about yourself

Often, we discuss the benefits of SWOT analysis for businesses, but that’s not its only use. You apply the analysis to yourself. First, decide on the goal. What is it about yourself that you’re trying to identify? Do you want to be a better…

  • Employee?
  • Student?
  • Partner?
  • Friend?

Identifying what you want to know greatly affects how you do the analysis and the results. For example, what makes you a better employee doesn’t necessarily make you a better friend. There may be overlapping qualities though.

If you’re trying to learn how to be better, identifying your weaknesses is essential. The weaknesses hold you back from achieving your goal. So they need to be acknowledged and eliminated.

Knowing what you do well is important too. You’ll want to be enhancing those traits. But it’s easy to stick to your strengths and ignore weaknesses. Or, on the flip side, it may be much easier for you to realize your limitations compared to your strengths.

Opportunities and threats sort of shift when doing a SWOT analysis of yourself. Opportunities will allow you to improve, such as taking initiative during a project.

Threats may be more external. For example, if you have to travel two hours for work each day, that eats up time with your partner, which could put a strain on the relationship. Or if had a falling out with a coworker, feelings may get in the way of collaborative project success.

When you have threats identified, you can begin planning how to prevent them from hurting yourself.

In conclusion…

SWOT analysis is typically aligned with business, because it’s a strategic planning tool. It allows you to do identify what makes a business stand out. But it’s also simplistic enough to better yourself, as a person. The uses for SWOT analysis are endless, so long as you put in the work.

Photo by 广博 郝 on Unsplash