We have a robust and engaging internship program which provides students with real-world experience and allows them to develop skills and competencies while gaining a better understanding of how to apply academic learning in industry.
As part of the program, we routinely ask our interns to complete and present a SWOT analysis.
SWOT is an acronym that outlines strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats and can be used to explore the pros and cons of a company’s overall performance or narrow in on a specific objective such as analyzing the performance of new service offerings, exploring a potential expansion, or responding to industry trends.
The deceptively simple framework allows you to take advantage of strengths, minimize threats, discover and seize opportunities, and develop business goals and strategies for optimal results.
In short, it helps you learn how to position your company for sustainable growth.
Let’s break it down.
Strengths and weaknesses assess the internal conditions of your company, your people, and your brand. Opportunities and threats evaluate external conditions of the industry and your competition that could help or hurt your business by delving into your company’s limitations.
Strengths describe what the organization excels at and its advantages over its competitors: a strong brand with loyal customers, specialized expertise, healthy balance sheet, etc. For example, a PR firm with a solid history of earned media coverage, strong media connections, and influencer contacts needs to determine how to leverage these results to entice new clients.
Weaknesses are areas where the business needs to improve to remain competitive and operate at its highest level. For example, lack of brand recognition, high employee turnover, or escalating debt are items that need to be remedied for peak performance.
Opportunities are favorable external factors that present an organization with a competitive advantage, while threats point to issues that could potentially harm an organization.
When evaluating external factors that could affect a company, focus on the following:
- Customer/Client Analysis: unmet needs
- Competitive Review: most direct competitors, brand image, culture, cost structure, etc.
- Market Analysis: what are the trends in the market?
- Environment Study: technology, governmental (regulation), economic, demographic scenarios that could have a significant impact on strategy.
A well-designed and thoughtful SWOT analysis allows you to identify and dig into key issues facing your company in a variety of areas. More importantly, it will force you to adjust strategies to minimize or eliminate weaknesses and threats, which in turn will help your business grow more intentionally and sustainably.