We have spoken about the benefits of doing a SWOT analysis to understand your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. We have also discussed how you can use the results of a SWOT analysis to build a TOWS analysis that fleshes out the strategic options available to you.
Now it’s time to bring everything together, so you can get a clear view of what the situation is and decide on the best option for you. Scroll down for a free worksheet you can use for this purpose.
But before you get started, here are some tips to help you with your analysis:
1) Prioritise your SWOT/TOWS factors
Like many other tools out there, a SWOT/TOWS analysis can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. I recommend you start by prioritising. You want to make sure you focus on the big things to avoid magnifying the small stuff.
How to do it? Feel free to elaborate when you fill in your SWOT worksheet. However, before you move on to do your TOWS analysis take the time to pick the two or three most significant factors in each quadrant. Process the information that is most relevant to your business, or your analysis could take a long time and lack sharpness.
2) Be honest with yourself
Just like self-analysis of any kind, be as truthful as you can in your answers. It won’t be easy: you can be sure that there will be factors that are worryingly close to the bone, even hurtful. But believe me, honesty pays when carrying out a SWOT or TOWS analysis.
Honesty is particularly important when looking at your weaknesses and threats. It won’t be easy, but once you’ve identified them you will be in a position to do something about it. On the contrary, if they stay hidden in the depths of your mind, they could hinder your project further down the line.
3) Don’t see SWOT/TOWS as a one-off
A SWOT/TOWS analysis can help your decision-making and inform your strategy. You can also use it for specific issues or projects, so you have a more comprehensive idea of what’s going on. But its real value is in providing you guidance as you grow and develop your business.
Make it a habit to review your SWOT/TOWS every now and then, for example, once a year. You will be able to check how well you’re performing against your goals. It will also help you focus your plans for the future. Above all, don’t do your SWOT/TOWS exercise once, then forget about it. It should be a work in progress of sorts, something you keep building on.
Are you ready to roll? Download the SWOT/TOWS worksheet here. You’ve got this – and remember, don’t hold back. The more candid you are, the more valuable the analysis is going to be.