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We’ve determined your story and your core values, we’re now going to move onto a full SWOT Analysis of your business.

For reference, SWOT refers to strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats. It’s four lists analyzing those four categories. So once again, using your preferred medium, write down your answers in each category.

You can start in any category you like and you’ll likely move in between them as you brainstorm. Having your owners or management team participate in this process will help to give you a wider and likely more encompassing SWOT Analysis than doing it on your own.

You may have items that cross categories and that’s okay. You having the best cook in the city can be a strength in that you have a value asset that helps ensure new business by supplying amazing entrees. It could also be a threat, as your business could be in jeopardy if your chef were to ever leave. Further, this could be complicated by a weakness of not having a strong backup staff around your chef to lessen the blow; and translate to an opportunity of hiring skilled, newly-graduated culinary students that can enhance and develop their skills with your talented in-house chef. As you can see you’ll move through the categories as you work through your analysis.

We’ll take a look at what should be in each category.

Strengths should be things you are currently doing well or assets you currently possess. Some examples may include things such as:

  • Central location downtown
  • No other Italian restaurants within 5 miles
  • Cohesive staff that works across department lines
  • Bartenders that can pour properly with little waste
  • A large dining area
  • Efficient cooks that make few mistakes
  • A comprehensive POS system
  • Creative and effective marketing
  • Nicest bathrooms in the city
  • A solid group of consistent regulars

Weakness are areas that you are currently poor in, or assets that are quickly deteriorating. These may include things such as:

  • Our location is hidden inside a hotel so we get less visibility
  • Our hosts frequently misquote wait times both over and under
  • We have a high number of over-priced drinks
  • We have kitchen staff that can’t cook a steak to the right temperature
  • Our bar is physically too large, even when there are 60 people in it, it feels very empty
  • Our marketing is poor, I feel like no one knows we exist
  • Our ambiance is poor, this place feels cold and lifeless
  • We have a poor social reputation on Yelp and Trip Advisor

Opportunities include possible fixes to weakness, unexplored niches, political influences in your favor, and other positive factors not currently being taken advantage of. Opportunities include things such as:

  • Indoor smoking was banned, we could expand our outdoor patio to accommodate smoking guests
  • There is no one else offering gyros in this area, it is something we could focus more marketing on
  • There’s a large number of office buildings in this area, we could offer delivery to increase lunch sales
  • With new paint and lighting, we could drastically improve our ambiance
  • There are a large amount of culinary students that are graduating next month that will be looking for jobs
  • There is a bar closing in a great location out by the airport. It may make a great second location
  • We could look at adding some higher end entrees and wines for our growing higher income customer base
  • Happy hour specials could bring in a larger office crowd after work

Threats are outside factors that cause a risk to profitability or the overall success of your business. Threats may include:

  • Food-borne illness
  • A competing restaurant opening nearby
  • A large shopping mall opening off of the freeway limiting shoppers downtown
  • Food shortages from your distributor
  • Rising beef prices
  • Road construction
  • Lawsuits
  • The loss of a high level employee to a competitor

There are many factors that can be included across these SWOT categories. By performing this analysis it should give you a good idea of where your brand stands on its own. It should give you greater focus on where you excel and where you don’t as well as alerting you to minimize possible threats and give you the foreshadow of future opportunities.

This analysis should be revisited as needed. I recommend at least quarterly to make sure your business is progressing as desired.

Next, we’ll compare your business to the others in the community with a full competition analysis.