One way to work out what needs the most attention is through a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis. Strengths and weaknesses apply to the business itself. Opportunities and threats come from the environment.


A SWOT analysis isn't a one-off task. As the environment and the business changes, a SWOT analysis will suggest different areas needing action. Just because you're done a SWOT analysis doesn't mean you never need to do it again.


The covid-19 pandemic has been a disaster around the world, but it reminds us of the need to re-analyse our business model periodically. In normal times, performing a SWOT analysis too often (several times a year) could distract from the business at hand. But when an event like this upends everything, we need to question every aspect of our business.


The examples here are prompters - it's not a question of simply box-ticking - you need to be clear about what is around and in your business.


SWOT example

{slider Strengths}

competitive edge (lower cost structure, clearly differentiated offering)

industry experience

personal connections


{slider Weaknesses}

health of key shareholders / managers

preparation for owner / key person exit

How will green issues affect the industry

impending tax changes

{slider Opportunities}

to gain market share

growth rates

gross margins

how attractive are other market / customer segments

{slider Threats}

level of competition

pricing influenced by customers' expectations

bargaining power with suppliers

likelihood of new competitors

alternative products

impact of technology

cost of keeping up with technology

long term trends

changes in consumer preferences

major customer segment growing or contracting

financial strength of other shareholders / family members

stability of other shareholders / family members (shareholders' agreement)

impending legal or regulatory changes

is the economy growing/?