What is a SWOT analysis?

What is a SWOT analysis? SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats and this analysis is a review undertaken by management or the owner of how these factors impact upon the business. A SWOT analysis is a standard management exercise that should be undertaken in all firms when planning their business activities. An export SWOT analysis simply applies the SWOT analysis to the firm’s export endeavours and looks at the firm in the context of its internal and external environments. In other words, as the export manager you will consider and write down what you believe your firm’s strengths and weaknesses to be and what opportunities and threats your firm faces from an exporting perspective (presumably your export SWOT analysis will closely relate to your general business SWOT analysis, but will extend the analysis to the international market).

SWOT: an internal and external view of the firm

It is very important to understand that strengths and weaknesses are internal to the firm, while opportunities and threats are external to the firm. Strengths, for example, might be that your firm has a unique product or staff that speak several foreign languages, or that your company has a very low-cost production system. Weaknesses, on the other hand, might be that you have little understanding of exports, that your products are designed specifically for the local market or that you have very little spare production capacity.

Turning to opportunities, these might include, for example, that the world market is experiencing a major growth in and shortage of the product that you produce, or that some major global producer has stopped producing the product that you manufacture or that the

The purpose of the export SWOT analysis

The purpose of the SWOT analysis is simply to get you to think about the factors, both internal and external, that are likely to have an impact upon your business, either positively (strengths and opportunities) or negatively (weaknesses and threats). Once you have identified these factors, you can begin to plan to either take advantage of the positive factors or to defend against the negative factors.

How to do your SWOT analysis

We have provided you with an export SWOT checklist that you can download and complete. This is essentially a long list of factors both internal and external that may or may not impact upon your business. Your task is to work through this list and to decide for each factor what the impact is like to be on your business (whether positive, negative or neutral), as well as the likely extent of the impact (significant or minor). Clearly, once you have completed this task, the next step is to concentrate on the positives and negatives – especially those that will have a significant influence on business performance – and then to take appropriate action in terms of how you plan your marketing strategy to deal with these issues.

Download the export SWOT checklist

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