A SWOT analysis is an assessment of theStrengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats facing a new or established business. It should always be conducted prior to the compilation of a detailed business plan. A realistic and unbiased SWOT analysis could form the basis for the strategies to be followed throughout the plan. A failure to determine SWOTs could result in a plan which is unclear, misguided and lacking focus and direction.

Strengths and weaknesses are essentially internal to the organization and relate to matters concerning resources, programs and organization in key areas.The objective is to build up a picture of the outstanding good and bad points, achievements and failures and other critical features within the company. If a startup is being planned, the strengths and weaknesses are related mainly to the promoter - their experience, expertise and management abilities - rather than to the project.

The threats and opportunities are external to the company and relate to the industry and marketplace in which the business operates; changes or trends in competition, technologies and so on.

Once the SWOT review is complete, the future strategy may be readily apparent or, as is more likely the case, a series of strategies or combinations of tactics will suggest themselves.

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