Start-Up Company:

Venture Management

SWOT Analysis for Start-ups

Strengths - Weaknesses - Opportunities - Threats (SWOT) Analysis for Start-Up Ventures

Adapted from "S-O-F-T Analysis", by Blue Rock Capital

"Problem-solving" is not planning

"Planning" is not the same as "problem-solving"

Effective planning can not be done without addressing the problems that are critical.

Not all problems deserve attention. Some just go away.


SWOT Analysis is the Key Component of Strategic Development.

It can prompt actions and responses



Build on strengths

Exploit opportunities

Revolve weaknesses

Avoid threats


Successful businesses build on their strengths, correct their weaknesses and protect against internal vulnerabilities and external threats. They also keep an eye on their overall business environment and spot and exploit new opportunities faster than competitors. Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis is a tool that helps many businesses in this process.


"SWOT" is an acronym which represents "Strengths", "Weaknesses", "Opportunities", and "Threats". To undertake a SWOT analysis, ideally, the first step is to make a long list of every factor that defines the company's situation. If you have a detailed one-sentence description of the company, this is a great place to start. If the company already has a business plan, page through and start "circling" the various factors that are descriptors of the company and its situation.

The next move is to triage this long list in order to sort the entries into legitimate "planning issues" (List A) and true "problems" (List B).

Take List B and determine which of the "problems" are likely to "just go away". Put the issues that are likely "just to go away" off to the side and focus on List A (true "planning" issues) plus the balance of list B (problems that are not likely just to go away).

Then assign the issues to the specific categories of the SWOT analysis - which ones are "Strengths", which ones are "Weaknesses", which ones are "Opportunities", and which ones are "Threats?"

Note that a company's "Strengths" and its "Weaknesses" (its "flaws") are obviously internal considerations. In "Strengths", list your company's internal strengths that make it competitive in the marketplace. In "Weaknesses", list any weaknesses along the value chain of your venture that must be strengthened to ensure success.

Note that a company's "Opportunities" and "Threats" in a company's operating environment are clearly external considerations. In "Opportunities", list the opportunities in the market your venture is going to capitalize on. In "Threats", list the external threats that your venture must be aware of problems that it has to solve.

Equally obvious is the fact that "Strengths" and "Opportunities" are both positive considerations. "Weaknesses" and "Threats" are both negative considerations. To express these relationships, it can be helpful to think of these factors in a 2 2 matrix (see below).

In order to do effective strategic planning, there are specific ways that this information can be used by the company. In general, it is clear that the company should attempt

  • to build its Strengths

  • to reverse (or disguise) its Weaknesses

  • to maximize the response to its Opportunities, and

  • to overcome its Threats.

Using the matrix below, try this exercise for your company.



potentially positive internal factors


potentially negative internal factors




potentially positive external factors


potentially negative external factors






SWOT Analysis: Questions To Answer

  • What is your strongest business asset?

  • What do you offer that makes you stand out from the rest?

  • Do you have any specific marketing expertise?

Leadership and Management

  • Leaders seize opportunities; Managers avert threats. Both together progress more.

  • Leaders amplify strengths; Managers reduce weaknesses. Both together develop more.



Sun Tzu: The Art of War

When you form your strategy, know the strengths and weaknesses of your plan.


Sun Tzu

The Art of War

Steve Jobs advice quotes

As soon as you join/start a company, make a list of strengths and weaknesses of yourself and your company.  >>>

Steve Jobs



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