In short, S.W.O.T. (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats). This is an analysis and planning tool used successfully by companies (profit and non-profit), to evaluate productivity. The S.W.O.T. analysis has helped many companies manage their internal and external branding environments. Concerning you as small business entrepreneur, what are the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of your startup business?Consider the following, the S.W.O.T. analysis should be done with all levels of employees in a company. It can be done in one massive group if your company is a small business startup or with different groups (i.e. board, executive staff, managers, coordinators and office support staff).

I recommend doing it in different groups, even as a small business. You would have an upper level employee selected to run the analysis and report the findings back to the top ranking staff or owners. This is best way of doing your analysis because it allows more candidacy for employees. If it is just you and your partner I suggest writing down your S.W.O.T. analysis separately, then sharing it with one another after. Then as a team you would design your S.W.O.T. management plan.

Although S.W.O.T. may sound like it is for a fortune 500 company, it is a great tool for a small business. As a small business owner you should implement a S.W.O.T. plan every couple of years to evaluate your growth. The S.W.O.T. will allow you to re-evaluate your business plan, set new goals and objectives for your business, as well as measure your success rate in a competitive market.

To use the S.W.O.T. analysis you must break it down into two sessions: internal and external analysis. The internal evaluation will measure the strengths and weaknesses of the company from the inside. This is more than just numbers. Employees will provide their view on what they think is good and bad for your team. The external evaluation will measure opportunities and threats. What is available to your company to push it ahead and what are other companies in your niche doing that can harm the success of your business (competitors).

At the end of each session you will make a list under each S.W.O.T. category detailing how you plan to approach each as a team (good and bad). This plan should be evaluated by upper management or business partners to then map out goals for the year and following year. All of the goals should include qualitative measures (numbers). For example, the sales department will bring in 40 new clients by December 31st or the board of directors will raise $10K by June 30th.

Use your S.W.O.T. plan to your advantage. Integrate your business plan and start making moves for another successful year of business!