SWOT Analysis: A simple guide for SMEs and startups

Turn Your Weaknesses Into Strengths

Want to stay ahead of competition and turn your weaknesses into strengths? If yes, then look no further.

SWOT analysis is a powerful and beneficial tool for companies to assess and evaluate a business’s competitive position. Performing a SWOT analysis can help companies identify their main strengths and weaknesses, which can then be used to develop an action plan. It can also provide business owners and managers a better understanding of the company’s current position, while also giving them insights into external factors to better plan for the future.

What is a SWOT Analysis?

A SWOT Analysis stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. It is helpful for startups and SMEs looking to grow or expand globally. It is one way a business can measure how it is currently performing and where it is going. Moreover, it can help a business make critical decisions and determine actionable steps for the future. A SWOT analysis gathers information and data from a range of internal and external sources.

Strengths and weaknesses explore the internal factors of your company. These are the resources and experiences that are readily available to you e.g. financial resources, physical resources and human capital.


Strengths refers to what your startup or business is really good at and what qualities separates your business from other competition in the market. For example, a strong brand image, loyal customers, having the newest technology, unique marketing and so on. These are what set your business apart from other competitors in the market.


Weaknesses reflect the areas where your business can use some improvement in order to remain competitive in the market. It refers to what your organisation lacks and what is stopping your business from performing at its optimum level. Is it a weak brand image, insufficient capital, high workplace turnover, high levels of debt, unclear unique selling proposition, etc?

On the other hand, opportunities and threats are external forces that can influence every company, business and individual. It is important to conduct market research and be up to date on what is happening externally.


Opportunities refer to favorable external factors that could give an organisation a competitive advantage. What are some opportunities your organisation can take advantage of? Is it a lack of competitors in the market or positive press coverage of your company?


Threats are to factors that could potentially harm or negatively affect your business. Common examples are emerging competitors, inflation, recession or changing regulatory environments. These are factors that you don’t have control over but will still need to be aware of in order to best tackle them.

Potential Questions to think about:

Final Thoughts

A SWOT analysis is an excellent, simple way to guide startups and small businesses in identifying not only the opportunities and threats that could potentially influence business operations but also the current strengths and weaknesses within a business. It is a powerful way to start discussions and brainstorm ideas.

Although SWOT analysis is a useful tool and is frequently used by many organizations, it also has limitations. It is good to incorporate a range of other tools within your business plan. Other popular analytic tools such as PESTLE analysis (Political, Economic, Sociological, Technological, Legal and Environmental) or BCG matrix can be used to provide a deeper and well-rounded analysis.

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