Welcome to Day 3 of our 5 Day SWOT Analysis Challenge!

Invite others to take the challenge! Share this article on Facebook or Twitter and use the #SWOT hashtag. Look here for Day 1, Day 2, Day 4 and Day 5 of the challenge.

5 Day SWOT Challenge - StrengthsA good entrepreneur is always on the hunt for new opportunities. One of the best ways to identify opportunities within your business is to complete a SWOT analysis. The acronym SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Click here to download our free SWOT Analysis template

We’re helping entrepreneurs just like you pencil in some time to conduct a thorough SWOT analysis. During our 5 Day SWOT Analysis Challenge, entrepreneurs are setting aside a little time each day to complete one piece of the report.

Day one, we conquered business strengths. On day two, we worked through business weaknesses, and now we’re ready to take on the opportunities portion.

The best time to conduct a SWOT analysis

Before we walk through today’s SWOT brainstorming exercise, we thought we’d take a second and talk about when an analysis like this should be done.

A SWOT analysis is meant to arm you with valuable information about your company. This information gives you a comprehensive view of your company as a whole, which will guide you in your decision-making process.

A business professor will tell you it’s always a good time to conduct a SWOT analysis. Any time you can take to critically look at your business and see how it’s performing is a good thing. However, there are strategic times when a SWOT analysis is most beneficial.

Ideal times to conduct a SWOT analysis:

  • At the beginning of the year. It’s no coincidence that we’re running the SWOT Challenge at the beginning of the year. As a new year begins, it’s a natural time to review the past year and look ahead. By conducting an analysis at the beginning of a new year, you’ll be ready to make decisions in the coming months.
  • Do an annual check up. Just like you should visit the doctor annually, your SWOT analysis should get a check up at least once a year too. You’ll be amazed how much can change within a year. You might not need to conduct the analysis from top to bottom again, but you should at least set aside a day to review it and make updates.
  • Do a SWOT analysis when a shift occurs. If something big is changing in your business, it’s time to do a new SWOT report. Maybe you just took on a big client and plan to increase your revenue, or maybe the political support that you once had is shifting. When a noticeable change like this happens, it’s always a good idea to re-evaluate where your business stands.
  • A SWOT analysis is vital for potential businesses. If you’re planning a business, conducting a SWOT report is a great way to check the viability of your idea.

How to define your company’s opportunities

Ok, it’s time to pull out your SWOT template. Let’s talk opportunities. Opportunities, as you might guess, are factors that can contribute to your growing success. These factors are typically outside of your control, which is why they are consider external factors.

Here are a few categories to consider when looking for business opportunities:

  • Economic trends. Look at the economy in your area.
  • Market trends. Your target market could be driving new trends that could open doors for your business.
  • Funding changes. Think of donations, grants, or other sifting revenue streams that aren’t within your control.
  • Political support. Consider changes in political ties.
  • Government regulations. Think of regulations that are changing that might afford you new opportunities.
  • Changing relationships. Consider shifting relationships with vendors, partners, or suppliers.
  • Target audience shift. Your target market might be expanding, aging, or shifting.

Questions to ask to find opportunities

To help you brainstorm possibly opportunities, we’ve created a list of questions to help. The questions are broken up by the categories that we just went over. If a question doesn’t apply to your business, simply move on to the next.

Economic trends:

  • Is the economy in your area looking up?
  • Will the economy enable your audience to make more purchases?
  • Are economic shifts happening that impact your target audience?

Market trends:

  • How is your market changing?
  • What new trends could your company take advantage of?
  • What kind of timeframe surrounds these new trends? Could it be a long-term opportunity?

Funding changes:

  • Do you expect an increase in grant funding or donations this year?
  • How will funding changes help your business?

Political support:

  • Do you anticipate a shift in political support this year?
  • What opportunities could be created with new political partnerships?

Government regulations

  • Are any regulations shifting that could lead to a positive change?

Changing relationships:

  • Are there positive changes happening within any of your outside business relationships?
  • Are vendors changing or expanding?
  • Has your partner decided to move on, creating an opportunity to work with someone new?

Target audience shift:

  • How is your demographic shifting?
  • What opportunities can you think of that can move with these changing demographics?
  • Is your audience expanding? If so, how can you capitalize on this increase?

Tips to list your opportunities

  1. Do your research. Finding answers to some of these questions might require some digging. Don’t be afraid to make some calls, set up meetings, and do some market research to gauge upcoming changes.
  2. Be creative. To find an opportunity where your competitors cannot will take skill and creativity. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box when you’re listing possible opportunities.
  3. Keep your list of opportunities handy. We’ll add to your SWOT analysis tomorrow, so keep your list of opportunities in a safe spot.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s SWOT analysis task: listing your threats. We’ll have a similar guide ready to go to walk you through the process.

What opportunities did you come up with for your business? Share your findings in the comments!

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Lisa Furgison
Lisa Furgison

Lisa Furgison is a journalist with a decade of experience in all facets of media.