Personal SWOT Analysis In A Nutshell

The SWOT analysis is commonly used as a strategic planning tool in business. However, it is also well suited for personal use in addressing a specific goal or problem. A personal SWOT analysis helps individuals identify their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Understanding a personal SWOT analysis

Indeed, individuals can adapt the SWOT analysis to:

  • Assist in personal development and career progression. 
  • Prepare for job interviews.
  • Successfully transition from one industry to another.

Conducting a personal SWOT analysis

When conducting a personal SWOT analysis, the information must be as unbiased as possible. For example, some individuals may overstate their strengths while understating their weaknesses.

Wherever possible, consult friends or colleagues for their opinions. While their opinions can also be biased, this can be counteracted by interviewing as many people as possible and identifying common themes. Independent market research can also be incorporated to further strengthen the integrity of the analysis.

Then, create a SWOT diagram with four boxes. Each box represents:

  • Strengths – what skill set do you bring to the table? Consider your qualifications, experience, achievements, personal skills, and any industry contacts or leads. 
  • Weaknesses – what are your professional bad habits or shortcomings? Do you struggle with public speaking or do you tend to call in sick often? What skills or qualifications are lacking or have expired? In identifying weaknesses, be honest and thorough. Each weakness represents an avenue for potential growth.
  • Opportunities – who are the movers and shakers in your industry and how can you position yourself in front of them? What trends can you foresee? Will these trends create job vacancies?
  • Threats – what are the obstacles you are currently facing? How is your role or broader industry changing? Could automation or increased competition affect your job security? Threats also take the form of ambitious or vocal colleagues who have the potential to outcompete you for promotions.

Determining personal SWOT analysis outcomes

In evaluating the results, there are two popular methods.

The first is matching, where two categories are matched to outline a course of action. Strengths matched with opportunities show you where to seize the moment and be aggressive. Conversely, weaknesses matched with threats identifies vulnerabilities that you should avoid or work on proactively.

The second method involves turning negatives into positives. How can weaknesses be turned into strengths, or threats into opportunities? For example, an extroverted individual who accepts an entry-level position with little human interaction may initially see extroversion as a weakness. However, they identify a sales position within the same company and work aggressively toward being hired for a role where extroversion is a strength.

Key takeaways

  • A personal SWOT analysis identifies areas of growth through the personal reflection of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
  • A personal SWOT analysis relies on unbiased information to be effective. Independent market research and the opinions of friends and colleagues can help offset personal biases.
  • Personal SWOT analysis results can be evaluated by matching two categories to determine where efforts should be directed. Negative attributes can also be turned into positive attributes by considering context and future planning.

Connected Business Frameworks

Porter’s Five Forces

Porter’s Five Forces is a model that helps organizations to gain a better understanding of their industries and competition. Published for the first time by Professor Michael Porter in his book “Competitive Strategy” in the 1980s. The model breaks down industries and markets by analyzing them through five forces.

BCG Matrix

In the 1970s, Bruce D. Henderson, founder of the Boston Consulting Group, came up with The Product Portfolio (aka BCG Matrix, or Growth-share Matrix), which would look at a successful business product portfolio based on potential growth and market shares. It divided products into four main categories: cash cows, pets (dogs), question marks, and stars.

Balanced Scorecard

First proposed by accounting academic Robert Kaplan, the balanced scorecard is a management system that allows an organization to focus on big-picture strategic goals. The four perspectives of the balanced scorecard include financial, customer, business process, and organizational capacity. From there, according to the balanced scorecard, it’s possible to have a holistic view of the business.

Blue Ocean Strategy 

A blue ocean is a strategy where the boundaries of existing markets are redefined, and new uncontested markets are created. At its core, there is value innovation, for which uncontested markets are created, where competition is made irrelevant. And the cost-value trade-off is broken. Thus, companies following a blue ocean strategy offer much more value at a lower cost for the end customers.

Scenario Planning

Businesses use scenario planning to make assumptions on future events and how their respective business environments may change in response to those future events. Therefore, scenario planning identifies specific uncertainties – or different realities and how they might affect future business operations. Scenario planning attempts at better strategic decision making by avoiding two pitfalls: underprediction, and overprediction.

Ansoff Matrix

You can use the Ansoff Matrix as a strategic framework to understand what growth strategy is more suited based on the market context. Developed by mathematician and business manager Igor Ansoff, it assumes a growth strategy can be derived by whether the market is new or existing, and the product is new or existing.

Comparable Analysis Framework

A comparable company analysis is a process that enables the identification of similar organizations to be used as a comparison to understand the business and financial performance of the target company. To find comparables you can look at two key profiles: the business and financial profile. From the comparable company analysis it is possible to understand the competitive landscape of the target organization.

Growth Matrix

In the FourWeekMBA growth matrix, you can apply growth for existing customers by tackling the same problems (gain mode). Or by tackling existing problems, for new customers (expand mode). Or by tackling new problems for existing customers (extend mode). Or perhaps by tackling whole new problems for new customers (reinvent mode).

Revenue Streams Matrix

In the FourWeekMBA Revenue Streams Matrix, revenue streams are classified according to the kind of interactions the business has with its key customers. The first dimension is the “Frequency” of interaction with the key customer. As the second dimension, there is the “Ownership” of the interaction with the key customer.

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