Grow Your Business: Identifying its Strengths, Weaknesses Opportunities and Threats (SWOT)

Running a business is hard, but SWOT can help you find where it can grow. Opportunity Fund Director of Small Business Marketing Anna Suarez shares her expertise on marketing your business and how small business owners like you can optimize your business operations.

What is a SWOT analysis and why is it important?

SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. By looking at these aspects of your business, you can see a comprehensive view of your business and where it can grow. As a small business owner, you probably already have a general idea about your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, but putting them down on paper and seeing it all laid out allows you see where you can take action.

This helps you come up with how to develop more relevant marketing messages, how you can compensate for weak spots, how you can take advantage of open niches in the marketplace, how to define or refine your products or services to sell better, and how to most effectively deliver those products or services to your customers.

How to find your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats?

Developing your business’ SWOT is easy, but it takes some honest reflection and dedicated research.

Finding your strengths is the easiest one. What makes your product or service unique? What are you good at and in what areas does your business make the most profit? Why do your customers love your company? Ask them! Talking with your customers builds relationships that will foster loyalty, and they will give you an outside perspective on what they like about your business.

Talking with your customers can also be a harsh, but necessary, reality check when it comes to your weaknesses. It’s often said that the people who leave reviews are the ones with something to complain about. Read those reviews and analyze how you can address those issues in the future. Are you understaffed or underfunded? What areas are you making the least profit? Does your location hinder foot traffic? Is your niche market too small? Are you a new immigrant and do not have business credit? Some things are out of your control, but identifying these interior and exterior weaknesses can help you compensate and work around them.

Your opportunities are where an action plan begins. Research on the internet or by talking with customers and industry experts to find out where your market is going. Food trucks are gaining popularity all over California; if you own a restaurant, can you open a food truck as well? Social media is the key to reaching younger customers; do you have and maintain a social media presence for your business? Knowing what opportunities are available to your small business makes it easier to go after them.

Lastly, knowing your threats is important. Figure out who your competitors are, what they do better than you, and how you can differentiate yourself from them to keep your customers. Are competitors offering lower prices? Is their service faster? Is your neighborhood being gentrified and filled with big chains and a different customer base? Knowing any threats to your business’ success is important for preventing potential roadblocks and standing out from the crowd.

Even if you are too busy running your business to do a SWOT yourself, you can hire a consultant to do the time-consuming research and analysis. You will be happy when you do, because knowing your SWOT can really help you identify how your small business can grow.

For information about Opportunity Fund’s small business loans, please contact us at 866-299-8173 or  For questions about your existing loan or other customer service questions, please contact us at 866-299-8173 or

Opportunity Fund is California’s largest and fastest-growing nonprofit lender to small businesses. In FY16, we made $60M in loans to help more than 2,200 small business owners invest in their businesses.  Opportunity Fund invests in small business owners who do not have access to traditional financing. As a founding member and signatory to the Borrower’s Bill of Rights, we believe in the important role small businesses play in our community and the economy, and we aim to help owners financially succeed.

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