How do I do a SWOT Analysis

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Lesley Batchelor OBE is an expert on international trade and a passionate champion of UK exporters. She is also the Director General of the Institute of Export, the professional membership body representing and supporting the interests of everyone involved in importing, exporting and international trade. In this article she tells you how to assess your export readiness using a SWOT analysis.

A SWOT analysis can be used for many different purposes, from planning your career to entering a new market. For those who don’t know, SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. The exercise of determining each of these within your company is often useful to a business if they rarely take time to plan ahead but spend most of the time looking after their immediate issues.

SWOT Analysis Template

SWOT Template
Using this simple grid system will formalise your thoughts and help you to manage your ideas effectively.

You can complete this on your own but it is often better if you use it in a brainstorming format and allow your team, family or friends to help you think through the issues that you may need to address.

SWOT Analysis Example

Here is an example of what a SWOT might look like for a first-time exporter.

Example of a SWOT Analysis

DO’s & Don’ts in SWOT completion

Do

  • Be analytical and specific
  • Record all thoughts and ideas
  • Be selective in the final evaluation
  • Choose the right people for the exercise
  • Choose a suitable SWOT Leader or facilitator
  • Think outside the box
  • Be open to change

Don’t

  • Try to disguise weaknesses
  • Merely list errors and mistakes
  • Lose sight of external influencer or trends
  • Allow the SWOT to become a blame laying exercise
  • Ignore the outcome of the planning processes

Using a SWOT Analysis for your Export Action Plan

Using the action plan you can work out the following:

  • What needs MUST be addressed immediately
  • What can be handled now
  • Things that should be researched further
  • Things that should be planned for the future.

Taking control of the issues your business faces will help you to grow and to manage your time in terms of the day to day and the actions that will take you into new markets.

Try it for yourself using our SWOT in the Action Planning process where we have given you a template you can fill in.