The SWOT analysis is a structured planning method that evaluates the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats in a project or business venture. View a sample SWOT analysis: OAR's SWOT analysis document (DOC, 24 KB)

A SWOT analysis involves specifying the objective of the business venture or project, and identifying the internal and external factors that are favorable and unfavorable to achieving that objective.

Strengths are the positive attributes, tangible and intangible, that are internal to your organization and within your control. When examining association strengths, consider the following:

  • What advantages does your organization have?
  • What do you do better than anyone else?
  • What unique or lowest-cost resources can you draw upon that others can't?
  • What do people in your market area see as your strengths?
  • What is your organization's unique selling position?

Weaknesses are within your control but detract from your competitive edge. When examining association weaknesses, consider the following:

  • What could you improve?
  • What should you avoid?
  • What are people in your market area likely to see as weaknesses?
  • What factors lose you sales (or members)?

Opportunities: Consider the external attractive factors that represent the reason for your business to exist and prosper. When examining association opportunities, consider the following:

  • What good opportunities can you spot?
  • What interesting trends are you aware of?

Useful opportunities can come from changes in:

  • technology
  • markets
  • government policy
  • social patterns
  • population profiles
  • lifestyles

Threats: What factors are a potential threat to your organization? When examining association threats, consider the following:

  • What obstacles do you face?
  • What are your competitors doing?
  • Are quality standards or specifications for your job, products, or services changing?
  • Is changing technology threatening your position?
  • Do you have bad debt or cash-flow problems?
  • Could any of your weaknesses seriously threaten your business?

By identifying each significant factor and assigning it to one of the four categories, you can take an objective look at your organization. The SWOT analysis will be a useful tool in developing and confirming your goals and your marketing strategy.