Applying SWOT analysis to your startup

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SWOT analysis is possibly one of the most well-known strategic analyses – allowing you to systematically consider the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats likely to impact your organization.

Strengths

Strength factors are things that you are particularly strong at – above and beyond other competitors or potential entrants. Ideally, you will have certain factors that make you and your company uniquely suited to be targeting the market that you are going after.

Examples of strengths include:

  • Your insight into the market: Are you able to identify new opportunities or improved ways of meeting the needs of the customer?
  • Your employees: Does your startup have particularly experienced and skilled employees?
  • The culture: Potentially your ‘entrepreneurial culture’ may make innovation easier than is feasible at larger organizations.
  • Location: Are you particularly well located to meet the needs of your market?
  • Brand and reputation: Have you established yourself as a leader within your market space?
  • Relationships with other stakeholders: Are there other stakeholders – for example, suppliers – that you have developed positive relationships?
  • Equipment and machinery: As you grow, are you starting to build more tangible machinery that would now be hard for new firms to match?
  • Funding: Are you one of few firms that have succeeded in getting funding? If you have access to financing, this can be a significant strength over new firms to the market.

Weaknesses

Weaknesses are factors that you are not as strong on as other companies. These are areas that you need to be aware of – either to further develop so as to neutralize the weakness, or to identify ways such that they are not as critical to your strategy.

It can be useful to consider weaknesses relative to different categories of competitors and potential competitors: in addition to your existing competitors, what would be the strengths that incumbents in connected markets would have if they decided to pivot into your market.

Opportunities

Opportunities connect directly with your strengths – are there ways of taking advantage of your strengths to pursue new directions. For example, are the new products, customers, or locations that you can target that would expand upon your original basis – potentially allowing you to be successful in areas that your competitors would have a hard time entering.

Threats

Threats are also important to consider – beyond the immediate issues that you have, are there additional potential problems that your company could face. These are potential dangers – that have not happened (and may not happen), that can significantly impact your organization.

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