The thumbnail version:

  • SWOT is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
  • What will a SWOT analysis do for you?

The full version:

A SWOT analysis will provide as clear a picture as you can get of where you stand in your market, what growth opportunities may exist, and what threats may undermine your stability and growth possibilities.

This doesn’t have to be the kind of lengthy and complicated paper-pushing exercise that busy small business owners detest and don’t have time for. All the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats can probably be noted on a few sheets of paper one evening when there’s nothing but junk on the TV. Grab  paper and a pen and jot down what you already know about your shop’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Getting it out of your head and onto paper will give you a clear picture from which to start thinking about an action plan. Use bullet points, use post-it notes, draw circles and arrows—whatever works for you.

To help you put some structure to your SWOT analysis, start by Googling “SWOT analysis” for ideas on the type of things you may want to consider.

It’s an easy but valuable exercise you should revisit regularly.