SWOT analysis has long been used by businesses and organizations to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats related to business competition or project planning. Its purpose is to specify the objectives of the business venture or project and identify the internal and external factors that are favorable and unfavorable to achieving those objectives.
A personal SWOT analysis is very similar to one for business, except that you focus on yourself and your goals. It’s a framework for analyzing your strengths and weaknesses, as well as the opportunities and threats that you face. This helps you focus on your strengths, minimize your weaknesses, and take the greatest possible advantage of opportunities available to you.
When conducting a personal SWOT analysis, think about what you want out of it. Do you want a new achievement in your current position? Are you looking for personal or professional growth, or want to try something new?
What is SWOT?
A SWOT analysis is focused on the 4 elements in its acronym. SWOT stands for:
S = Strengths: characteristics of the goal or project that give it an advantage over others.
W = Weaknesses: characteristics of the goal or project that place the business or project at a disadvantage relative to others.
O = Opportunities: elements in the environment that the project or goal could exploit to its advantage.
T = Threats: elements in the environment that could cause trouble for the goal or project.
SWOT analysis aims to identify the key internal and external factors seen as important to achieving an objective.
SWOT analysis groups key pieces of information into two main categories:
Internal factors — the strengths and weaknesses internal of the project or objective
External factors — the opportunities and threats presented by the environment that can affect the project or objective.
- What advantages do you have that others don’t have (for example, skills, certifications, education, or connections)?
- Which knowledge and skills have you developed over the years and are good at?
- What are your positive personality traits?
- What do you do better than anyone else?
- What personal resources can you access?
- What do other people see as your strengths?
- Which of your achievements are you most proud of?
- What values do you have that you see are lacking in other people?
- Are you part of a network that no one else is involved in? If so, what connections do you have with influential people?
- What contributed the most to your past victories?
- What tasks do you usually avoid because you don’t feel confident doing them?
- What do the people around you see as your weaknesses?
- Are you completely confident in your education and skills training?
- If not, where are you weakest? What are your negative work habits (for example, are you often late, are you disorganized, do you have a short temper, or are you poor at handling stress)?
- Where in life have you struggled the most?
- Do you have personality traits that hold you back in your field? For instance, if you have to conduct meetings regularly, a fear of public speaking would be a major weakness.
- What training have you not had that would be useful for you?
- Is your industry growing? If so, how can you take advantage of the current market?
- Where do you see the biggest favorable circumstances for achieving your objectives?
- Do you know people who can help you achieve your objectives?
- Do you have a network of strategic contacts to help you, or offer good advice?
- What trends do you see in your industry, and how can you take advantage of them?
- Are any of your competitors failing to do something important? If so, can you take advantage of their mistakes?
- Is there a need in your industry that no one is filling?
- Is there any new technology that could help you advance?
- Which obstacles are you facing at the moment and why?
- Which is the biggest external danger to your goals? Which factors beyond your control can prevent you from achieving your goals?
- Is your job (or the demand for the things you do) changing?
- Does changing technology threaten your position?
- Could any of your weaknesses lead to threats?
How To Do A Swot Analysis
Carrying out a SWOT Analysis is relatively simple. The best way is to take out a pen and paper and write four columns: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. From there, you can begin to fill out each one and apply it to whatever situation you find yourself in.
If you are considering expanding your enterprise, you might want to write the current strengths and weaknesses of your business, as well as the opportunities that you could move into and the threats that you might need to minimize.
If you are an individual looking to improve yourself, you can carry out a SWOT Analysis either on the micro or macro level. A micro example would be focusing on one specific area of life. For example, you could write your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats when it comes to dating, productivity, or changing your job.
You can also take it to the macro level. You might simply write your current strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats across all areas of life — or simply the areas that you want to focus on for now.
Matching & Converting
One way of using SWOT is matching and converting. Matching is used to find a competitive advantage by matching your strengths to opportunities. This can help you choose career or business opportunities or matches, build on and outline your strength.
On the other hand, matching your weaknesses to threats can show your biggest vulnerabilities. You’re always only strong in a specific context, and you have to be aware of that context and which situations cause you to step out of it.
Another tactic is to convert weaknesses or threats into strengths or opportunities. For instance, you can convert your weakness for public speaking into a strength by taking a course in public speaking.
Like any personal development process, a SWOT analysis is not something you want to do every day. But if you are finding a particular problem very intractable, or struggling to know where to start with a goal, it may be a useful way of ordering your thinking and giving you a different perspective on the problem.