Articles for Retailers - by Tom Shay

Call in the S.W.O.T. Team

Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats
by Tom Shay

By the title of this article, you would think we were making a new movie; one of those action films where our hero destroys the enemy. After all the bad guys have been captured or killed, our hero will walk off into the sunset - somewhat worn and beaten. But, still the winner in this exciting combat.

Our hero would be the strong, combative type with special talents, courage, drive and, figuratively speaking, with eyes in the back of their head. These are characteristics we all wish we had.

Recently, I heard a speaker discuss the four challenges facing a small business. He said that, internally, the small business owner needs to know their strengths and weaknesses while, externally, they need to recognize the opportunities and threats. 

Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats - SWOT. 

A small business needs to see itself as a SWOT team.

Strengths and weaknesses. To develop your SWOT team, create a list of what you do well and our customers find of greatest value. The bigger the list the more competive you are. Engage your staff in developing this list. It’s important that you are frank and honest in your analysis. Creating a list of your weaknesses can be an eye opening-experience but also a great opportunity for improvement. How do you compare to your competition? How strong are your employees? Is your store location good? Do your hours of operation meet your customers needs? 

Opportunities and threats. Look at your product lines. Visit your competitors stores and websites. Talk to your customers about their needs. Visit NAMTA’s annual Art Materials World trade show to see the latest products and network with other small art material store owners. Ask them what new opportunities they have found and implemented To examine the threats, create a list of services and products you would like add to your business. Ask yourself what changes you would make to your business if a new competitor was going to open a store in your market in one year.

Every business needs a SWOT team. It may be a committee of one, but most often you will benefit from having the input of several of your employees. You may even want to invite your accountant, and a couple of your customers to help you in this ongoing project.

SWOT -- Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.

Create your SWOT team and give your company one more competitive advantage.


Tom Shay is a fourth generation small business owner, author, columnist, coach and speaker who has authored several training manuals for retailers that can be found in the Resources section of the NAMTA website – namta.org. His knowledge of small business marketing, business strategy, staffing, and financial management have provided small business owners with the help necessary to increase their profits plus build their business for the future. You can learn more here - www.profitsplus.org.