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Writing a SWOT analysis can be quite challenging. Not only does it involve critical thinking and analysis, but it also requires a great deal of research. And because a SWOT analysis is a formal document, it has to be written in an organized way. A SWOT analysis paper typically follows the structure of a research paper or essay in that the main discussion is framed by an introduction and conclusion. It also often features an abstract or executive summary which, as the term suggests, presents the most salient points of the analysis. Hence, a SWOT analysis combines writing, researching, analytical, and critical thinking skills.
As this project is often challenging, it is not unusual for students to study a SWOT analysis example or use a SWOT analysis template. Indeed, some even walk the extra mile by seeking the help of a SWOT analysis writer. So what exactly is a SWOT analysis and what can students do to complete this project? In this post, we briefly discuss the uses and contents of a SWOT analysis as well as the steps to writing one.
What is SWOT Analysis?
A SWOT analysis is a technique businesses and organizations often use in strategic management. Its main purpose is to evaluate the factors that can affect their performance. SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. The first two, strengths and weaknesses, refer to factors that are internal to the company. Therefore, a company usually has control over such factors. Examples of internal factors include financial resources, human resources, physical and intellectual assets, organizational culture, and reputation among others. The latter two, opportunities and threats, pertain to factors that exist in the external environment. Hence, a company usually has no control over these factors and can only respond to them. Examples of external factors are industry competition, societal culture, legislation, political climate, and forces of nature.
How Effective is a SWOT Analysis?
For the most part, a SWOT analysis is an effective tool for evaluating a company’s performance. This technique is useful due to its ability to give companies valuable insight when it comes to its performance. In other words, a SWOT analysis tells a company what it is doing right, what it is doing wrong, and what factors it should respond to. When done right, this technique can be a rich source of actionable knowledge for a company.
While this technique is useful, it is important to note that a SWOT should be performed prudently. The main pitfall of this technique is that the list of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats could go on and on. This is especially true for very large businesses and organizations. Hence, it is crucial to focus only on the most important factors. Otherwise, conducting this analysis could lead to wasting inordinate amounts of time, energy, and resources. It also helps to define the scope of the analysis. For instance, this sample SWOT analysis of Toyota narrows down the analysis to the context of environmental sustainability.
Where and When is the SWOT Analysis Utilized?
One of the advantages of the SWOT analysis is its scalability. While this method is most commonly associated with business, it can be used for a variety of purposes in both micro and macro levels. Some uses of this technique are provided below.
- Personal. This technique can be used in assessing personal development. By conducting a personal SWOT analysis, a person can identify which competencies give them an edge and which competencies need further development. For example, nursing students are often asked to conduct a personal SWOT analysis and write a reflection paper or journal entry about the findings. In this case, the output is a SWOT analysis of a person.
- Businesses. Businesses regardless of size can benefit a lot from performing this evaluation. It helps a business leverage its advantages, addresses its inadequacies, and capture new markets. For instance, a SWOT analysis can be conducted by someone who wants to learn how a small business can increase its clientele . Meanwhile, big businesses can use this method to understand better their position within a dynamic and competitive business environment. For instance, this sample SWOT analysis of Zara looks into the current issues that the clothing company should avoid or prepare for. In this case, the product is a SWOT analysis of a company.
- Projects. Even projects can benefit from a SWOT analysis. For example, conducting this analysis before starting a project increases the chances of success since it allows the project managers to identify resources at their disposal as well as respond to barriers and challenges. It can be a small personal project to something large and multinational.
These are just some of the many contexts and situations in which SWOT analysis is useful. Its simplicity and straightforwardness can be applied to something as small as a personal assessment of competencies to something as large as an international project. Its principles do not change, making it a superbly reliable tool regardless of need.
The Four Areas of a SWOT Analysis
As mentioned earlier, SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. These four are the major areas that the analysis examines. The sections below take a closer look at each of the four areas and discuss the value that they provide to those conducting the analysis.
Strengths refer to positive internal factors. Positive means that the factor gives the organization an advantage while internal means that the factor can be controlled or influenced by the organization. Strengths come in many different forms. They may be concrete and tangible such as financial resources and physical assets. They may also be abstract and intangible such as a good reputation, an effective way of doing things, or a solid reputation. Strengths also vary from one business. For example, a strategic location can be considered as a strength for a brick-and-mortar store while a robust research and development department gives a tech company an advantage. The ideal response to strengths is to maintain them, further enhance them if necessary, and leverage them to optimize their value.
Weaknesses are negative internal factors. This means that they are factors that disadvantage an organization. Again, they can be controlled or influenced by the organization; they can also be tangible and intangible. For instance, a poor reputation can be considered as a weakness, since it can cause a company to not only lose existing customers but also fail to win over prospective ones. Another example of a weakness is an organizational culture that does not value innovation. This is because a culture that stifles progress can lead to the organization becoming outdated and irrelevant. An organization must respond to weaknesses by eliminating or strengthening them.
Opportunities are external factors that the organization can take advantage of in order to gain benefits. External means that they are beyond the organization’s control or influence; rather, what an organization can merely do is respond to their existence by taking advantage of their potential to bring value. Opportunities vary and may include private and governmental policies, new markets, and changing trends among consumers. For example, the easing of requirements for foreign investors in one country can be considered as an opportunity by a company seeking new markets.
Threats refer to external factors that may adversely affect an organization in the foreseeable future. Like opportunities, they are mostly beyond the control or influence of an organization. Thus, the organization’s response should center around mitigating them or preparing for their occurrence. Examples of threats include the emergence of new technologies that could be game changers, policies that could make conducting business harder, and changes in supply and demand. For instance, companies that rely on fossil fuels face the threat of dwindling supplies and growing demands for use of clean energy from consumers.
As the discussion above shows, strengths and weaknesses are internal whereas opportunities and threats are external. Furthermore, strengths and opportunities bring value to an organization whereas weaknesses and threats pose challenges. Each can be further understood by studying a SWOT analysis example.
How to Write a SWOT Analysis
The process of writing a SWOT analysis follows the same basic writing process in that it should begin with coming up with a topic and end with proofreading the final copy. What goes into the middle, however, slightly differs given the unique needs of this project. Below are the basic steps to writing this paper:
- Choosing the topic. The first step is choosing the topic. More often than not, the professor will assign the topic to the students or make them choose from a pre-approved list. It is also common for professors to allow students to choose their own topic as long as they secure approval.
- Conducting research. Once the topic has been identified, the next step is to gather crucial information about the organization. This involves a lot of researching and reading. It is also important to consider the quality of sources.
- Reading and analyzing. The next step is reading and analyzing the information from the sources. Remember that a SWOT analysis should go beyond merely reiterating content from sources; as the term itself indicates, it needs to involve analyzing information in order to draw out conclusions. It is also extremely useful to write down notes during this step.
- Drafting. Once you have enough material for a substantial discussion, organize the notes into a logical and cohesive outline and then write the draft of the paper. One way to ease the process of writing is by expanding the outline while following the prescribed format for a body paragraph. This involves writing the topic sentence first, followed by quality evidence, and then analyzing the evidence and connecting it to the topic sentence and the thesis of the paper.
- Revising. Drafts are rarely perfect. Even the most experienced writer will need to revise the draft a few times in order to ensure that the content is comprehensible, logical, cohesive, and smooth-flowing. Devote some time to editing the paper. Remove unnecessary parts, enhance clarity, and improve upon any aspect that requires more work.
- Proofreading. The final stage is proofreading, and this is the part where you focus on technical aspects like grammar, spelling, punctuation, and citation.
Writing a SWOT analysis is no easy feat. It requires you to devote a lot of time and effort. But if you are a beginner, using a SWOT analysis template such as those available on the internet can help ease the process for you.
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As this discussion has made abundantly clear, a SWOT analysis can be quite a challenge because of the amount of researching, reading, analyzing, writing, and revising that goes into it. Furthermore, this project rarely comes on its own. Aside from a SWOT analysis, business students can also expect to complete other projects like PESTLE analysis, Porter’s Five Forces analysis, marketing plan, and business plan . If you feel that you need help in doing these projects, by all means, enlist the help of a professional writer from CustomEssayMeister. Our expert writers have the knowledge, skills, and acumen to create comprehensive business papers that meet your needs.
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