Strategic Planning for Business Growth: Using SWOT

One of the biggest mistakes with businesses is the lack of strategic planning for business growth. There is nothing worse than not planning when it comes to business. A business plan is one thing, but you need to continuously review the overall company without taking it personal. This goes for big and small companies.

Strategic Planning for Business Growth

Let’s take a look at how anyone can move forward with strategic planning for business growth. One way that I have seen in action is by examining every aspect of a company. Brainstorm with others inside the company, get surveys from your trusted customers who will give you the honest truth and swallow your pride. For entrepreneurs/work at home businesses, this can be crucial.

strategic planning for business growth

SWOT – Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats

When it comes to brainstorming and information gathering, you need to organize it to continue planning. One of the best ways I have seen in action that actually works is SWOT. Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Let’s examine each one and why it’s important to the success of a business.


In life, not just in business, finding our strengths and fully utilizing them is probably the easiest thing to make a list of. Or is it? When it comes to our strengths, they can also be a weakness. Furthermore, giving recognition to only one and not the other needs to be looked at as a potential detriment, a threat. So what are some examples of strengths in a company?

  • Long-term employees means low turnover
  • Well executed training program that looks for continual improvement
  • Experience and background of the leadership
  • Proven product(s)
  • Positive attitudes of personnel

There are many other potential strengths of a given company, but they can be weaknesses too.


Recognizing one’s weaknesses can actually grow us stronger. It means we know we cannot do everything. We need a team to be successful. In addition, seeking input, guidance and additional training can actually lead to better growth and stability in the business. Can personnel be a weakness? Should it be addressed? Yes. If you choose to ignore any weakness and bury your head in the sand, then you have a weak link in your system. But by looking at the weakness (mine is my temperament) and identifying it, you are taking the opportunity to improve it as well. Every weakness has an opportunity to strengthen. Similar to every action has a reaction.


When identifying opportunities, this is where fun can happen. Look at it as though the glass is half full. Is there another product that would be a great fit for what you already do? Perhaps you see that workstations having improvements can benefit the company in the long run. Is there a way to boost morale? Something simple as a company gathering like a picnic, or go bowling? Look for opportunities for improvement. Continuous improvement is crucial. Even the old wheel needs a bit of improvement. Change is a natural occurrence that most people have a hard time accepting. But with the right approach, the benefits are enormous!


Identifying and figuring out how to handle threats is probably the most important step in this process of strategic planning for business growth. Be sure to identify the threats first. Do not start trying to plan to minimize or overcome the threats as you write them down. Save that for a later meeting. Stay on this task of just putting them down in writing. One risk in not staying on task is that you forget one. That can actually lead to bigger issues.

Examine: Strategic Planning for Business Growth

Okay great! You have everything written down and you got input from others, now what? This time we start with the threats and work backwards.

Solutions for Threats

Take one of the threats and see if you can turn it into an opportunity. Let’s say a threat is that a long-term employee is nearing retirement or has given obvious clues to their upcoming exit. (Yes, speaking from experience here.) This said employee actually is very critical in that certain tasks they do, no one else can do. Not even the immediate supervisor. How can we turn this into an opportunity? Perhaps one way is to have that supervisor sit down with that employee and learn it themselves. Cross-training people is integral to the operation of a company.

But, let’s say you are an entrepreneur. One threat could potentially be an illness that then prevents you from working your business. What would you do? Think of ways to overcome it before it happens. Or maybe you are in a direct sales company, a very real threat is one of your product going away. What steps can you take to make sure that doesn’t happen?

Examining Opportunities Deeper

Now take a look at the opportunities. Can you identify the accompanying strengths, weaknesses and threats within it? Make great notes on what you are coming up with. Trust me, it is well worth the effort. By looking for the potentials now and identifying them you will be putting together a plan for the future, making your goals a reality.

Don’t Take Weaknesses Personal

As you start looking at your weaknesses, think of ways you can turn them into your strengths. If one of your weaknesses are based on people such as tempers and emotions, the last thing you want to do is make that person feel bad. Do not make it personal, but rather look at how you can make improvements to guide that person better. Even intervene in circumstances that cause that weakness to rear it’s head in the workplace.

If you are that person with the weakness, do not take it personal. That is very hard for me to write as a former supervisor used to say it daily to me when dealing with a difficult customer – “Don’t take it Personal”. Very aggravating to be told that. However, there is some truth to that which is why it stings when said. Same goes with anything that causes a frustration. So before you lose your temper because the same person think of ways you can intercede.

Weaknesses can also be equipment, training or even the lack of them. This is where you may have to adjust your budget to make the improvement. But at least you have identified where the improvement needs to be. What needs to happen to “fix” it? Come on, think! Write it down.

Strength Training for Success

So you have identified your strengths, but did you know that without identifying them they could easily become a weakness? We are humans, our personal strengths that have gotten us to where we are can actually weaken. It is called Ego and sometimes humble pie is needed to keep our strengths strong, a sort of strength training.

Other strengths are system related and we need to identify when upgrades could or should be necessary.

Prioritizing SWOT for your Strategic Planning for Business Growth

Now that you have identified your SWOT, what is next? Now we prioritize because in reality we simply can not put into action immediately what we have identified. We need to decide what is highest priority. Examine your lists and put 1’s by those of highest priority down to 5 for lowest priority.

Finally, just like setting goals, assign due dates for dates these need to be completed. Some may be completed quickly, others could literally take a year or even longer, depending on what it is. Meanwhile remember this, you are developing an action plan. Now follow it. Periodically, do these steps again to see if priorities have changed or new ones come to attention? Remember life is all about change and we cannot stop it, but we can adapt.

Additional resources

If you are looking for guidance in changing you and your mindset, I invite you to read my page on Preparing Your Mindset for Success.