SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats) analysis is an amazing strategic planning tool for businesses that are looking to get insights into their current situation and make better long-term decisions. Out of all 4 sections, Opportunities can often be the most difficult to identify and assess.
For this reason, in this article we will focus on some effective ways to identify opportunities in SWOT analysis.
But before that, if you need more information about what a SWOT analysis is and how you can conduct it without making some of the most common mistakes, you can check the following articles:
- 3 Great SWOT Analysis Examples with Real Companies
- 10 Common SWOT Analysis Mistakes in 2022 & How to Fix Them
And now, let’s see how we can identify opportunities in SWOT analysis:
9 ways to find opportunities in SWOT analysis
When conducting a SWOT analysis for your company or project, you will often find out that some sections are easier to fill out – for example, strengths and weaknesses. After all, you know more about the company that you work at than you know about competitors or factors that are external to you.
How ever, identifying opportunities can be a more challenging task – they can and will be different for every organization, and they can come from multiple places as well. Sometimes, they exist but we are just not able to see them. Here are some ways in which you can spot them before your competitors:
1. Identify the current trends in technology
While most of us are already tired of listening about digital transformation, we can’t ignore the fact that we are living in the Information Age, and technology is shaping every industry.
It is enough to take a quick look around – fast food restaurants are implementing digital screens for self-ordering, ecommerce already accounts for 18% of retail sales worldwide, Digital Marketing is rapidly overshadowing traditional Marketing, and the list goes on.
For this reason, if you really want to find opportunities in SWOT analysis and scale your business the right way, look around and try to identify the current and upcoming trends in technology and innovation. Here are some ways in which you can do that:
- Follow the biggest companies in your industry in Twitter and LinkedIn;
- Subscribe to leading newspapers and magazines online;
- Follow important figures within your industry;
- Always try to stay up to date with the latest innovations;
- Pay attention to megatrends that are arising worldwide.
This way, you will be able to spot opportunities much faster and apply them to your organization as soon as possible.
2. Look at your competitors
Another great way to identify opportunities in SWOT analysis is to pay close attention to your competition, especially the leading companies within your industry. Apart from knowing who are your biggest competitors and how are they standing out from the rest, try to answer some of the following questions:
- What are the newest features that they have released?
- What are the latest innovations that they are implementing?
- Is every competitor doing something you aren’t doing yet?
- Are they hiring specialists with very particular skills?
Quite often, competitors may find opportunities and even implement them faster than you, so you should always be up to date with what they are doing. You don’t want to be the last one to jump on an important trend – think about Nokia who weren’t able to adapt to the changes fast enough.
Image source: startuptalky.com
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should jump on every single trend, but it is important to always keep your eyes open. As for the last point, it may sound weird but it can deliver valuable insights.
For example, seeing big companies hiring Blockchain specialist can be a good indicator that they are planning to enter the Blockchain industry in one way or another.
3. Ask your existing customers
Another great way to identify opportunities in SWOT analysis is to get feedback from your existing customers. You can read through reviews on Google My Business, Amazon and other third-party platforms, or even better – ask them directly:
- What do they wish you offered? Could be an additional feature that you are missing;
- What are the biggest areas of improvement that they are able to identify?
- Are they thinking of switching to a competitor because of something in particular?
Speaking with them will help you get valuable insights on where your business can improve, and turn them into the perfect opportunities for long-term growth. In fact, their feedback may help you fill out both the Weaknesses section and the Opportunities section of your SWOT analysis.
4. Make use of Google Trends
Another strategy that can help you find opportunities in SWOT analysis is to deep dive and explore insights with Google Trends. Google Trends is a 100% free tool that you can use to see what people are currently searching for the most, and how these trends evolve over time.
Are they increasing or decreasing? Are people searching more or less than before?
Think of possible search terms related to your industry, and start analyzing the possibilities. Alternatively, you can also use the free Keyword Planner tool that Google Ads offers to determine search volume and see what else you could be missing.
5. Ask your potential customers
Your customers can give you valuable feedback, but at the end of the day – they are already your customers and probably satisfied with your product or service. So, they could be biased or simply missing the full picture of how your product or service should look like.
For this reason, another great way in which you can identify opportunities in SWOT analysis is to try and get feedback from your leads and potential customers. Try to understand things like:
- What is preventing them from becoming your customer?
- What does your product/service lack to convince them?
- Are they inclined to go with a competitor because of something important?
The answers you get to questions like these can be a golden mine of business growth opportunities to explore. You need to have a very good understanding of the obstacles that these people are facing that’s preventing them from actually becoming your customer.
6. Follow economic trends
Of course, in order to identify opportunities in SWOT analysis, you should also be looking at economic trends – in other words, pay attention to the bigger picture in your country, and how what’s happening might affect your business. Some examples of economic trends that you can watch include:
- Unemployment rate;
- Consumer Confidence index;
- Gross Domestic Product (GDP);
- Interest Rates;
- Climate Change;
- Supply & Demand for certain commodities;
And of course, let’s not forget about things that we didn’t expect at all – such as the global pandemic. A thorough analysis of global and local economic trends will not only help you fill out the Opportunities section of your SWOT analysis, but the Threats section as well.
7. Pay attention to government regulations
Government regulations are constantly changing the game for businesses across all industries. Pay close attention to new regulations, restrictions and conditions that the government might be imposing within your industry.
For example, some countries require an energy efficiency certificate for real estate, a regulation which not only affects buyers and sellers, but also real estate agencies and even home insurance companies.
Other countries don’t require this yet, but might do it very soon – which can be a great opportunity for those real estate agencies that are able to detect this change early.
8. Consider changes in consumer behavior
Another type of trends that can help you find opportunities in SWOT analysis is the constantly changing consumer behavior. This means that your target audience may change and evolve with time – and it probably will.
Think about McDonald’s – the company noticed that their target audience was aging and rebranded accordingly. According to chef and restaurant consultant Mark Moeller:
“The original thought with restaurants like McDonald’s was to aim at a family audience, so you could get customers for life.  They try to make it comfortable so older adults from 30 to 60 can go in and feel comfortable enjoying the fast food they grew up on but in a more welcoming environment.”
Identify opportunities in SWOT analysis: McDonald’s Rebranding examples
For this reason, when you are trying to identify opportunities in your SWOT analysis, it’s very important to take into account how consumers are changing and what exactly this means for you.
9. Conduct a PESTLE analysis
Conducting a comprehensive PESTLE analysis is a great exercise in preparation for your SWOT analysis, and especially for identifying opportunities for growth. It will also assist you in some of the previous points that we discussed in this article because it allows you to study the following key external factors:
In other words, understanding external factors that might have an impact on your organization now or in the future is one of the first steps to do if you want to identify opportunities in SWOT analysis.
And that was all from me for today! Thank you for reading my article on how to find opportunities in SWOT analysis, and I hope to see you in the next one! In the meantime, if you have any questions, do not hesitate to let me know in the comments below.