Creative and intrepid individuals tend to be best-suited for entrepreneurship. Yet, bold and clever ideas are not the only criteria for a successful business. In a practical sense, even the most innovative ideas must be grounded by viability.

In other words, there must be a genuine need for a business like yours. But how can you tell if your business plan is viable? If you’ve already outlined your company objectives and developed marketing, operational, and financial plans, there’s still one more thing you need to do. It’s called a SWOT Analysis.

What is a SWOT Analysis for New Businesses?

A SWOT Analysis is an invaluable tool which can provides a snapshot of your business at any phase of maturity. In fact, I recommend following this practice at least once per year, if not every 6 months, even if your business is well-established.

Yet, this analysis is perhaps most useful for gauging the potential success of any startup. I therefore wholeheartedly recommend incorporating this unique assessment into your initial business plan. Here’s how it works.

SWOT is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

Work thru this exercise with me:

  • Strengths: List 5-10 unique strengths you bring to your business. If you’re an aspiring florist, you might already have connections with local wedding venues, for example. Or, perhaps you’re a budding wedding consultant with a decade of event planning experience.

    List any other characteristics, events, and achievements that serve as advantages for your business. Keep in mind that these are generally factors you have control over. Now, brainstorm ways you might build off those strengths.

  • Weaknesses: Next, list 5-10 weaknesses. What are the characteristics, challenges, and soft spots that could be harmful to your business? Maybe you lack expertise in one key area needed to build a strong business, such as accounting or marketing. Keep in mind, however, that weaknesses can often be strengthened. Think of what you could do to improve any of the shortcomings you’ve identified here, such as taking online courses or reading up on skill development.

  • Opportunities: Unlike strengths, opportunities are generally beyond your control, although they are still positive. They might include a fast-growing niche or a booming local wedding market. For this section, list 5 opportunities you can capitalize on. For example, if there’s a growing destination wedding segment, you might leverage your travel experience to assist local couples looking for getaway nuptials.

  • Threats: Like opportunities, threats themselves are beyond your control. Nonetheless, you can control how you react to them. List 5 external factors that could hinder your business, and adjust your plan accordingly. For example, increasing competition is a threat, but you can refine your unique value proposition and communicate it effectively with a strong marketing plan.

Don’t Be Afraid to Fail

While a SWOT Analysis is an incredibly useful tool, the bottom line is this: your business plan is based on your best assumptions, which may play out differently after you actually launch it. Let this serve as a starting point, and revisit it continuously as your business evolves. You can always polish your analysis, as well as your overall plan. With practice, you’ll better understand the ins and outs of your business to continuously improve.

No one who starts up is an expert. But as long as you keep a pulse on your business and are open to learning constantly without the fear of failure, you can master long-term success.

Learn more about business planning with me here: